Holbrook gardening seminar:

Additional Information

First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of you who attended our first round of seminars this spring. We had tremendous feedback and are glad to be a resource for gardeners in the area. As I mentioned in the class, I have additional information available for you. You will receive an email with attached Microsoft Office documents, but I also wanted to post them online in case you cannot access the files. During the last seminar, I also mentioned that I will be trying my very hardest to update you on our own planting schedule here on the farm, whether it be daily or weekly. As you may have guessed, I have been extremely busy with planting so updating you may take some getting used to. Please feel free to email me if you feel you would like an update. I need constant reminders for everything since I am pulled in a zillion directions. The following is the additional information I promised and following will be an update on what I've planted so far:


Too small is better than too big. Start small and work your way up! The last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself. We'd like this to be an incorporation to your life style and not a fleeting hobby. (Don't frustrate yourself! This should be fun and exciting!) 


Many of you had questions about best methods to protect your garden. As we discussed, there are many different ways you can protect your garden and it all depends on how much money you want to spend and how much physical work you want to put into it. Besides the fencing methods we talked about, it seemed pretty clear to me that the most invasive pests seem to be small varmints: groundhogs, voles, chipmunks, and squirrels. Although we may not have the perfect solution for everyone and everyone’s needs, I personally find that the best and easiest solution is to figure out how nature handles these pesky creatures. Natural predators are the best solution. For example, we have a farm cat. Not all of you want a cat, so I did some research and found that screech owls are fantastic hunters. Creating an environment to allow owls to hunt near your garden may help tremendously (making a nest or owl house).

Also, squirrels often like to munch on seeds from bird feeders. If you have a bird feeder near your garden, perhaps moving it further away will deter squirrels and other seed loving animals. Evaluate your garden, determine if you have anything attracting the specific pest you’re trying to avoid and go from there!

If your pests are bugs and insects, prevention is the best method. This is why crop rotation is crucial and squashing eggs are very important. If you are having slug problems, place bait slightly away from problem area. Drowning techniques may work (i.e. beer), but have not had great success personally. Natural predators are always the best and most effective approaches. As John mentioned, create a space for toads!


I can’t stress enough how much soil health is the basis for your garden’s success.  Your soil is alive, teeming with microorganisms that make nutrients available for your plants to absorb. Without healthy living soil, your plants will have a much more difficult time getting what it needs. When plants lack in nutrients, they are weak and are more prone to disease and pest attacks. They will also lack the essential nutrients when consumed by you!

I highly recommend a soil test to start off every season so that you can make the necessary amendments before your garden is planted. The soil test will let you know about any heavy metals that may or may not be present in your soil and it will also provide you with the basic N-P-K amount.: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.  These are not the only nutrients your plants need. Micronutrients are equally as critical. When applying fertilizers, less is more. You can always add more later. Too much fertilizer can burn or damage roots, which is often the case when using hot manure (besides the obvious contamination concern).



First week of April- As soon as you can work the soil, you can start to plant peas and FAVA beans and spinach- DIRECT SEED

3rd week-end of April-  beets, carrots, radishes, parsnips, arugula, Asian greens (bok choy, mizuna, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage, etc.), broccoli raab, mustard greens-DIRECT SEED

***These seeds come up quick, except for carrots. We cover these crops with a row cover (a light blanket for plants). It will only protect the plants by a few degrees, but this may be enough to keep from frost. *** Also, this information is based on best growing times in Bethel. If you are further South, you may be able to start earlier.


Early- Mid May- Broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, kale, collards, Swiss Chard, Celery, cabbage, brussel sprouts, (SEEDLINGS) Lettuce (DIRECT SEED and/or SEEDLING) ***If you are expecting frost, these need to be covered***

HERBS- PLANT SEEDLINGS (Germinating is a pain) EXCEPT- Cilantro and Dill- Easy, but can spread seeds like crazy if you let it go to flower.

PERRENIAL HERBS- Chives, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, Mint

ANNUAL HERBS- Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Dill

End of May- first week June- Hot weather plants are ready to go in: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants SEEDLINGS

Beans, cucumbers, summer squash , winter squash (Direct seed or seedlings) Very temperamental roots, ONLY KEEP IN POT FOR MAX 3 weeks before planting outside, but DIRECT seeding is best.

Read your seed packets to see which plants perform better in Spring/Fall vs. plants that need summer heat. Succession plant throughout the season (about every 3-4 weeks) 

As Of April 9th, 2015

This week has been a wildly busy planting week. On April 2nd, we planted our first planting of peas (English shelling, snaps, and snows) and Fava Beans. We will replant every 4-5 weeks in different locations to ensure a continuous crop. These crops do not tolerate very hot weather. We pause planting in mid summer until early fall. Once the summer heat has died down, we resume planting peas. 

We also planted lots of spinach. They are extremely hardy to cold weather. Since our last frost date here in Bethel is the last week of May, there is a chance of late frost from now until then. To make sure our cold crops do not succumb to frost damage (or too much frost damage), we cover it with a lightweight material called reemay, agribon, or row cover. WE HAVE THIS AVAILABLE FOR SALE. 

Also planted this week: carrots, radishes, lettuce mix, Asian greens, scallions, leeks, arugula, pea shoots, pea tendrils, mustard greens, broccoli raab, and beets. ALL DIRECT SEEDED.

Kale and collards will follow in a day or two (SEEDLINGS). These need to be covered immediately. 



Our cold crop seedling will be available for sale starting FRIDAY, APRIL 10th. ***Seminar participants have vouchers for free plants. Compost will also be available.

Available for sale APRIL 10th:

  • lettuce mix
  • kale- curly, Red Russian, Tuscano (Lacitano or dinosaur kale)
  • collards
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • mustard greens
  • spinach
  • scallions
  • leeks
  • organic potato seeds
  • onion starts: Spanish White, Copra, Red River, Red Zepplin, Candy
  • asparagus roots: Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant