Vegetable Gardening

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Starting a Garden

Some brief tips about preparing your garden:

Digging
the soil and turning it well to loosen it up is the first step. This
can be done with a digging fork or a rototiller but careful not to over
rototill as that can cause problems with drainage. The most important
thing you can add to your garden is compost. Spreading a 1″ layer of a
good compost will add microorganisms and nutrients to your garden along
with earthworms and good bacteria. They will do most of the work in
your garden to break down the minerals and natural chemicals in your
soil and allow the plants to take them up through their roots.

 


Planning
a layout before you plant can help you discover problems before they
happen such as shading and crowding. Check out our Garden Plans page for plant sizes and sun requirements to help you get organized.
Always keep the lowest plants toward the South side and taller ones to
the North. Don’t overcrowd but if you live in an area with lots of dry
summer heat you can plant a bit closer together than normal to help
shade the ground and protect against drying out the soil.


Mulching
after you plant is very necessary for hot dry parts of the country and
wet moist places also. Mulches keep moisture in the soil, keep it
cooler, and prevent fungus spores from splashing up onto your plants’
leaves which causes diseases. Some great mulches are pine needles, dead
leaves, hay straw, and even newspaper strips. These will also break
down in the soil and add organic material to your soil for next year.


Fertilizing
should be done as naturally as possible. Compost generally has some
grass clippings in it which provide enough nitrogen for the whole
season. If yours does not, you can add manures, or worm castings, (also
available in our catalog) which make a wonderful fertilizer or you can
use a store bought organic type fertilizer which has low numbers on the
bag such as 6-4-2. Higher numbers on a bag of fertilizer do not mean
that it is better for your plant. They can burn your plants and
overfeed them and you will have no vegetables at all in your garden. We
do not recommend Miracle Gro because of the the short term benefits to
your garden. Miracle Gro washes away in a few days and leaves behind
salty soil. You have to keep using it every week all summer which makes
it expensive and it is really easy to overfeed and burn your plants.


The
same situation goes for insect control. There are some really good mild
organic treatments for pest control but before you use anything,
know what you have and the best way to treat it. Sometimes this is as
easy as clearing away a few weeds or adding a mulch. Many store bought
pest controls can be very toxic to your plants, good bugs and you.
Always read the package very carefully, organic doesn’t always mean
safe! Some products I recommend are Safer soap, Bacillius Thurengiensis
or BT, Neem spray and good old handpicking. Click on Insect Information
for more help.


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