Yard to Fork
We have all heard of the farm to fork movement which focuses on providing transparency regarding where our food comes from and how it is grown. Sacramento is the farm to fork capital of America and we have no shortage of restaurants serving farm fresh ingredients. Growers are now shipping from the farm to your door and ranchers are becoming a common site at farmer’s markets.
There is, however, one downside to this movement: the cost of food is rising. While most people love knowing where their food comes from, that doesn’t make it any easier to afford.
So how do you get fresh, organic, high quality produce without paying an arm and a leg for it? Simple, you grow it yourself!
The Sacramento Valley climate is perfect for growing fruits and vegetable in your yard, patio, or balcony. Right now, late April/early May is the perfect time to plant your own micro-farm.
Tomatoes: Tomato plants can be put in the ground, a tub, a large pot, even a 5-gallon bucket! Plant them now with a trellis, add a bit of fertilizer made for consumable plants or compost, and by Independence Day you will be enjoying tomatoes.
A few tips for tomatoes:
- Plant them low in the soil and clip lower leaves. You only want the top leaves and branches out of the soil.
- If you are planting in a pot, or 5-gallon bucket, line it with several layers of newspaper to help retain moisture.
- Don’t skip the trellis! Make sure your plants are growing up, not out, so you don’t end up with rotten tomatoes on the ground.
- My grandma told me to gently squeeze the flowers together with your thumb and index finger. She says this helps pollinate the plant and produces better fruit.
Melons: Most melons love the hot, dry Sacramento climate. While it might seem like a plant that needs a lot of space (melons can spread 16-20 feet), you can grow melons on a trellis, just like tomatoes. Well, not JUST like tomatoes. Melons, due to their weight, need a steel or concrete trellis system.
A few tips for melons:
- Make sure your trellis system is anchored to the melons don’t cause it to fall over
- Create cradles for melons. The stem of a melon isn’t strong enough to hold the fruit, so you need to help it a little. Stockings, dish towels, or old scraps of fabric work well!
- Don’t over water your melons. Water 2 times per week with low flow for about 15-20 minutes. Watering too frequently will result in undersized fruit.
Peppers: Add a little spice to your life this summer with homegrown peppers. Due to their size, peppers are a perfect plant for containers, but you can put them in the soil if you prefer. From bell peppers, to jalapenos, to fiery habaneros, peppers love the hot Sacramento sun!
A few tips for peppers:
- Peppers need nitrogen to protect them while they are developing.
- Place fertilizer with nitrogen about 3-4 inches from the stem of the plant.
- Fertilize once a month until August, then fertilize every two weeks.
- Make sure to pick the pods when they are the color you want to eat – unlike other fruits, peppers won’t continue to ripen once removed from the stem.
Make sure to send us pictures of your garden – we love to hear from you!
If you need a new garden, give me a call! I can help you find the perfect place for your family to eat Yard to Fork!
Kristen Trexler 916.247.4957