Category Archives: Soil

Late Start in a New Garden – Late Spring Early Summer

This post is for gardening fans that move to new quarters in late spring or early summer but want to have some GARDEN FUN this year. If you move into a place where the previous tenant had a garden then…..  BUT if you move to a place with a virgin lawn what are your options?

  You are in luck if you live in a region with a nearby farmers market and/or a number of local CSA’s ( Community Supported Agriculture) to purchase a supply of seedlings for the garden late in the season. And have access to some expertise to ask a few questions as the season goes on.

If you do get a late start what ar your food options? The most popular summer plants are: tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplants. These are all great options for a new soil planting or straw bale gardens that are started in May or June.

What are these options:

NEW SOIL PLANTING-       Image

  1. Purchase Top Soil/Garden Soil- 40# bags at garden center
  2. Place several sheets of newspaper/or a sheet of cardboard on grass and wet thoroughly
  3. Cut an x in back of bag place on paper/board
  4. Cut large hole or several smaller hole on the top side of soil bag and plant 
    Image

    Veggies planted directly in Soil bag

  5. END OF SEASON- Prep for next year
  6. Lift bag and leave soil in place and add compost, manure, leaves cut grass to season in the winter for use next spring

HINTS/TIPS-        Some plants may need deeper roots – so using a box cutter or spade to puncture the paper or cardboard may be necessary.

STRAW BALE GARDEN –

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  1. Purchase several bales of straw and a few bags of garden soil or composted manure.
  2. Place in garden area on side(with open straw-string is usually along the other edges)
  3.  For 3 days wet the bales thoroughly
  4. Days 4-10 add a mixture of water/liquid organic fertilizer(High Nitrogen)
  5. Days 11-14 add water and finally soil/manure     
    Image

    Straw bales seasoned with water/fert- and soil READY to PLANT

  6. Make holes and plant seedlings with appropriate spacing [i.e. a standard bale  could support 4- 6 tomatoes/peppers….etc..  
    Image

    Just Planted Straw Bales

BAG OR SACK GARDENING –

This can be with commercially available planting sacks or “socks” or burlap bags commonly available from coffee roasters and other food processors.   

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Burlap bags filled with growing medium and providing a bountiful harvest

Natural material bags are filed with planting medium – soil/compost/manure and are placed in garden area- wet thoroughly and plant. The prevent weeds and are easy to water and maintain.  

####                        LONG TERM CONCERNS and PLANS  ( next year and after)

*** Testing the soil, Drainage, Tilth, Smell, Soil Life

  1. Soil Test- Can buy a kit or submit to local extension agent
  2. Drainage- dig a 1’ x1’ hole- Fill with water and time the drainage time  .4-6 hours is too slow and needs organic matter to speed  up and make it softer and ,2 hours it is too thin and needs more organic matter.
  3. Tilth – how firm is the soil- will it hold in a ball when wet, but break apart easily, or crumble with no resistance?
  4. Smell- Is your soil fresh, earthy or rotten and putrid?  ( may need to learn THIS ONE)
  5. Soil Life- Shovel full of soil-  How many worms and other visible organisms?

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Building Good garden Soil

The key to delicious garden grown food is healthy and strong soil.
The key to healthy /strong soil is building it up with mulch, compost and recruiting worms and other useful organisms.

1) Minimize tilling and digging. [keeps good soil structure-and weeds]
2) Use compost, grass clippings,leaves/leaf mold and organic mulches (will help and improve the soil structure and texture)
3) Always keep the soil covered with crops* or organic mulch.

*Whenever you are not growing a crop, sow a cover crop to keep the soil active and fed or cover with good compost and mulch.

Build and rebuild the soil- The best way to do this is composting and worms. Invite the worms to your soil with good amendments and plenty of “food” (decomposing food scraps and vegetation)

GREEN Manure (cover crop)- Grow in empty spaces- between seasons- during a down year to rest/recharge the soil or to overwinter; after cut back and work into the soil before the plants go to seed. Cut back with mower, clippers or scythe, leave on ground or remove and top the area with compost or leaf mold and prepare for planting. Cut material can be added to compost pile.

As the garden is being developed you will need to add a source of phosphorus. Crops with enough phosphorus show steady strong growth. This means more and vigorous production of crops. Strong mature are less susceptible to drought,disease and frost. Rock Phosphate is also rich in other needed elements such as boron, zinc, nickel and iodine. It is also a slow-releasing long-term food and it is bio-available to the plants and soil.

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