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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cool Weather Crops


March is the start of the spring gardening season. Many cool weather crops can be planted outside now as seeds or vegetable starts. What we plant from late March into April?
We can plant many cool weather vegetable seeds directly in the ground. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, peas, spinach, turnips like the cooler spring temperatures and can be planted from seed now.
You can also plant vegetable starts now, just be sure you harden them off before you plant them.
Onions and garlic can also be planted now.
Onions are planted from
seed, sets and plants.
Garlic is planted from individual cloves.
Potatoes should be planted later in April. Egg-sized seed potatoes can be planted whole. Larger seed potatoes can be cut in half or quartered and then planted. Make sure you have at least one set of "eyes" on each piece you plant. Always select certified seed potatoes. Supermarket potatoes are often treated to prevent them from sprouting. This is the time to plant perennial vegetables, including rhubarb and asparagus.
Rhubarb
is available as bare root crowns or as rooted starts. Asparagus is available now as bare-root crowns.  Don't harvest rhubarb or asparagus during their first season. This will allow the plant to establish. Rhubarb and asparagus can produce for 10 years or more, so pick a spot in the garden where they won't be disturbed for many seasons.
Before planting your seeds, starts or crowns, amend your soil with compost and peat moss. Take the bags home, dump into a pile, mix it all together and  add to your vegetable garden.
Add some
vegetable fertilizer to your soil while you're planting. Place  some in the bottom of each row or planting hole, so the roots of your new plants can grow into it. While you're at it, plant some pansies and violas for color. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Your best garden starts now


 

Amending your garden soil in early spring is key to having a healthy, productive tomato and vegetable crop this season. A good soil amendment will make your existing soil healthier and more fertile by improving soil texture, helping to  lower pH (make your soil more acidic) and encouraging worms and microbes to flourish. Healthy soil encourages deeper root systems and makes nutrients more available to your vegetables.
An easy way to improve your soil is with packaged products such as Earth Essentials Sheep, Peat & Compost.  
In this example, we're working on improving a 10 square foot (5' X 2') section which will be used to grow heirloom tomatoes this season.
After opening the bag of Earth Essentials Sheep, Peat & Compost and spreading the contents evenly across our bed, you can see that 1 cubic foot bag of Sheep, Peat & Compost organic compost will cover 10 square feet (5X2) 2" deep. You can use this as a basis for calculating how much you'll need to buy to amend your current bed or start a new vegetable bed.
Other choices for bagged soil amendments include Canadian Peat Moss,
Earth Essentials Cow and Compost, 
Nature's Yield Organic Compost and
Sunleaves Coconut Coir.  At this point, you can add some Peat Moss or Coconut Coir to the mix to help acidify the bed even more. Tomatoes and most plants do best when the pH is acidic, somewhere around 6.8. Your best bet to lower your soil's pH is with organic material such as compost, peat moss and coconut coir. 
It's also a good idea to incorporate a granular fertilizer such as Fertilome's Gardener's Special or Fox Farm Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer. This will help feed your tomato and vegetable starts when you plant them.
The next step is to your incorporate your compost, peat and fertilizer into the existing soil to a depth of 4" to 6". 2/3rds soil to 1/3rd compost is a good rule of thumb when you're adding amendments to your soil. Finish the project by raking the bed out evenly.
Now you are ready to set up your Wall O' Water plant protectors. Wall O' Water plant protectors act like mini greenhouses and extend your growing season by six to eight weeks. Set them up a couple of weeks before your plant your tomatoes. This will help warm up the soil and reduce transplant shock. Hot Kaps are another way to protect young plants from Spring's cooler weather. Happy gardening!