Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Garden Update April 8th, 2008

Hi, everyone! Hope you are enjoying the spring's return. Over the past two weeks our landscape has transformed. All the plants are bursting out. You may be thinking it's a bit early for vegetable gardening. Actually,this is the busiest time of the year.

The most important lesson I learned in Master Gardening classes is that you need to do things at the right time. Sometimes that window is really narrow, like the application of pre-emergence to control crabgrass or the application of certain pesticides to control a pest at its most vulnerable state. The window could be as narrow as just a week or so. Fortunately for gardening, most timing is not that critical.

But lots need to be done in these first few weeks. We've cleared some of the garden as it is drying. Then last week I tested the soil. I'm not sure why, but the last couple of years the soil is quite deficient in Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Based on a book's recommendations, I scattered 40 lbs of 12/12/12 on the small garden. It seems like a lot! The back plot needs the same treatment. I made the same mistake this year that I did last. It's not so good to apply all this fertilizer right before you plant seeds. A seed doesn't require fertilizer to germinate; the seed itself has all the nutrients the new plant needs until it develop its first true leaves. Adding fertilizer, which is a salt, only makes germination more difficult. I should have added the fertilizer weeks earlier, but I didn't because I hadn't tested the soil - because the ground had been FROZEN and not easily sampled. That's why you do this is the fall - in the right time. Oh, well.

Stan has once again started lots of plants indoors. Also, he purchased some fairly mature tomatoes (Better Boy, Sweet 100's, Early Girl) and I took them to the Freescale greenhouse in Kokomo. I also planted some lettuces, beets, parsley, coriander, etc indoors. Some of these we've always planted directly in the garden, so we are experimenting a bit.(This might be a way a couple of you could help. Some gardeners plant most of their crops indoors and transplant as needed. This could be away to ensure successive plantings of lettuce, for example.)

Today I took advantage of one of the timing "windows". The soil in the small garden was dry enough to plant peas, 3 types of lettuce and 3 types of beets. Stan and I also planted some cabbage on Sunday, "so we got that going for us" (Bill Murray quote).

What's next? We have a few things. First, our composting is not going very well. The pile never gets hot like it's supposed to. If someone wanted to become the Queen or King of Compost, do a little research and straighten us out, that would be great.

Second, we need a plan of attack for the cucurbit family members(cucumbers, squash, pumpkins). The crops last year were destroyed by the squash vine borer and the cucumber beetle, which spreads a disease that thickens the fluids in the plant's vascular system and chokes the plant. Any takers wanting military experience without going to Iraq?

Third, someone could take on the task of growing seedlings, as I mentioned above. Don't know enough to do any of these things? Sorry, with 10 zillion webs pages and fantastic search engines, pleading ignorance doesn't cut it anymore.

FINALLY, some of you want to be more involved this year. Here's how you do it: Every week Kim thinks that things are best done in their time. So, I usually start on Saturday morning to ensure the necessary things get done that week. So, I suggest that you call on Saturday or even Sunday to see what's going on - or just drop by. There's almost always something going on.

Next week I'll tell you how we've changed our strategy this year. And, I'll try to mention the "Temple of Awesome". Bet you can't wait.



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