Category Archives: Uncategorized

Protect your crops from the next frigid snap

 Buon Anno, Ortolani,

I hope your cold frames survived last week’s frigid blast; now it’s time to brace up for the next round, which should arrive tonight.  All my five cold frames fared well so far. Some of the more tender vegetation was a little limb one morning, but after the sun came up and warmed the chambers, they perked up and now are back to normal.

Since our next cold snap will be dipping to sub-zero, it’s wise to protect your frames by covering the tops with a heavy insulation (discarded carped underlay) and inserting a spotlight with a 100 watt clear incandescent bulb to make sure it stays above freezing inside the frame.

All this information is in my book, THE COMPLETE ORGANIC GARDEN, which is available from me, or through


Ci  risentiamo,


Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian





Maintain Your Stone Fruit Trees

Cari Ortolani,
Since today’s temperature reached 50º F. and the trunk of one of my apricot trees had been infected with bacterial canker, I took the liberty of removing the malignancy to keep my plant healthy and produce another bumper crop next summer.
Canker is no stranger to stone fruits (apricot, cherry, peach, plum), and if left untreated, the infection can spread and destroy the whole plant.
First I needed to remove the gummy substance with a sharp chisel and a small pointed knife, then I painted the wound with a mixture (40% white latex paint and 60% water) to seal the injury and prevent it from spreading.
This process should be part of your yearly winter inspection/maintenance to ensure health and productivity for years to come.
Don’t wait until spring when the sap starts to flow, during the dormant season is the opportune time.

The whole procedure, and more, is in my book, THE COMPLETE ORGANIC GARDEN

Buon Anno,

Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian

Are you still harvesting products this time of the year?

Cari ortolani del mondo,

Even though last night I wasn’t able to protect my cold frames with remnant rug under layers, and this morning my lettuce had suffered some damage, I managed to remedy the situation by shining a spotlight with a 100 watt clear bulb in all my 5 cold frames.
During super cold nights, such as in the low teens or single digits, some additional protection is needed to keep the more tender vegetation from perishing – beets, parsnips, radishes and carrots excluded.
When your more tender vegetation suffers a slight frost, and the same goes for seedlings during early spring when hardening off or planted in the garden, shine a spotlight (in the absence of sunlight) with either a reflector bulb or 100 watt clear bulb to help it regain its vitality.
Water afterwards and you’re in business again.

Ci risentiamo,

Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian
P. S. My new book, THE COMPLETE ORGANIC GARDEN is flying off the shelves

First Fall Freeze

Cari Ortolani,

We had the first killing frost last night, and today, I need to cut down my asparagus plants. Sever stems to about six inches from the ground and mulch with 4-5 inches of pine needles. Before discarding the vegetation into the compost pile, check for praying mantis cocoons; this beneficial insect tends to attach its egg masses on side shoots. Remove the cocoon without disturbing the casing and store under a overhang or protected area away from possible predators.
For artichoke plants – cut limp vegetation a couple of inches from the ground, heap a good amount of pine needles against the base of the stems and place a netting or branches to keep the mulch from blowing away.
Another way is to eradicate the plant, place in a container filled with damp sand and store in the basement or garage until spring.

Ci risentiamo,

Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian

Protect your fig trees

Cari Ortolani,
As you already know, fig trees are subtropical and need winter protection in cold climates. Some cultivars like Brown Turkey and Celeste are more winter hardy, however, they do not produce high quality fruit like the more delicate types found in California and temperate zones of Europe.
Yesterday, with the help of two colleague Master Gardeners, we bunched and tied the branches of my Latterula, erected a house like structure with 2×4’s and covered it with 1 inch Styrofoam insulation.
Afterwards, we wrapped it with a tarp, and now is fully protected from the cold/wind and waiting for spring to arrive.
If you have a fig sapling, don’t plant outdoors in the fall, wait until spring and after the frost date in your area has passed. For more details, refer to my book: THE COMPLETE ORGANIC GARDEN
Ci risentiamo,
Nick Mancini, The Organ Italian

Get your cold frame ready

Cari Ortolani,

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about using your cold frame. Last week, with the help of my students, we assembled my larger cold frame by placing it on top of an existing raised bed. The 4’x 8’ structure is covered with double plated glass, and insulated with 2” Styrofoam, which protects my tender vegetation even when the temperature dips into the single digits. Be cautious not to use old windows with lead paint.
My other 3 smaller cold frames are against the foundation on the south facing wall and covered with heavy, clear glass or Plexiglas.

Protect your crops; don’t wait too long,
Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian

P. S. Had a successful book signing this past Saturday with over 80 friends and colleagues on hand.

Surf grub you saffron patch

Cari Ortolani,

Sorry for the long absence. I needed to finish my organic book entitled THE COMPLETE ORGANIC GARDEN (ISBN # 978-0-9897749-0-1), which has 397 pages, over 1,300 photos/illustrations and will be out at the middle of October.

Two weeks ago I removed the banana melon vines from the saffron patch, surf grubbed it, which means to work the top couple of inches of soil with a cultivator, and applied an organic fertilizer comprised of Soybean Meal, Rock Phosphate and Greensand.

After the substantial rainfall of couple of nights ago, the little corms have sprouted and within weeks I’ll be harvesting saffron from my roughly fifteen hundred plants.

Ci risentiamo,

Nick Mancini, The Organic Italian