Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Planting for Mid April

Sprout Robot is a neat little website that tells you when to plant things for your area. So what do they say you should be planting if you are in the Red Hill General Store area? (SW Virginia)

Green Onions
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Chinese Cabbage
Leaf Lettuce
Summer Squash
Head Lettuce
Asian Greens

Start Indoors: Eggplant, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes.

So grab your gardening tools and get to it! And take a second to tell us what you are planting this year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What is Lasagna Gardening?

The term lasagna gardening seems to floating around some of the gardening communities lately. But what is it?

Lasagna Gardening is a garden that is created by layering several different materials, one right after the other, with no need for mixing or tilling. The materials go through natural decomposition that does the work of mixing for you. Another name for this method of gardening is "sheet composting".

You can do a lasagna garden in a container or just right on top of the soil. You will first need to decide which you are doing and where. Then you will need to work on your layers. For your layers you will need some "ingredients". The ingredients that you will need for your lasagna garden are similar to what you would put into a compost pile. Some examples: grass clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee and tea grounds, weeds (be sure they have not gone to seed), manure, compost, seaweed, shredded paper, pine needles, garden trimmings, peat moss, etc.

You will begin by laying out a layer of cardboard or several water soaked newspapers over the area that will container your lasagna garden. Then you will create a layer of green (materials that are high in nitrogen such as, peat moss, manure, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, etc.) Next is your brown layer (materials that are high in carbon such as leaves, hay, straw, shredded newspaper, egg shells, saw dust, wood ashes). You will continue to alternate layers until your "lasagna" is 2 feet tall. Your final layer on your garden will be compost or manure. (If you keep a compost tumbler or heap this is a great time to use the compost you've been building up in there)

If you are starting your lasagna garden in the fall, it will be ready to plant by spring. However, if you are beginning in the spring, there are a few things you can do to help it be ready to plant almost immediately. While you are creating your lasagna garden add more soil-like amendments when layering, such as, finished compost, peat moss, or topsoil in between each layer. Finish off the entire bed with three or four inches of finished compost or topsoil, and plant. The bed will settle some over the season as the layers underneath decompose.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Patio or Balcony Gardening

For those who want to garden, but are limited on time or space, a great method to use is container gardening. With the containers on your patio, porch, or balcony they are close by for tending. Growing your own vegetables this way can provide you with fresh produce right at your fingertips while also saving some money on your grocery bill. Another great benefit of this type of gardening is that issues with soilborne diseases, nematodes, or bad soil conditions are remedied.

Beginnings of a container garden in a round washtub.
There are many types of vegetable crops that can be grown in a container:
  • Broccoli (1 plant per 2 gallons)
  • Carrot (2-3 plants per 1 gallon, need containers 2 inches deeper than the carrot length)
  • Cucumber (1 plant per 1 gallon)
  • Eggplant (1 plant per 5 gallons)
  • Green Bean (Space plants 3 inches apart, a 2 gallon minimum)
  • Green Onion ( 3-5 plants per 1 gallon)
  • Leaf Lettuce (2 plants per 1 gallon)
  • Parsley (3 plants per 1 gallon)
  • Pepper (1-2 plants per 5 gallons)
  • Radish (3 plants per 1 gallon)
  • Spinach (2 plants per 1 gallon)
  • Squash (1 plant per 5 gallons)
  • Tomato (1 plant per 5 gallons)
  • Turnip (2 plants per 2 gallons)
The containers that you can use vary, as long as it drains well then it can be used. If you have buckets you want to use, be sure to punch drain holes in the bottom and fill the bottom inch of the bucket with gravel so the holes aren't easily plugged by the dirt.

When thinking about what seeds to start for your container garden, you will want to go with plants that are easily transplanted as they do best in containers. Some items you can germinate your seeds in: backing pans, plastic trays, pots, or even a cardboard milk carton. Your seeds should be started in a warm area about 4 to 8 weeks before you transplant them into their final container. Also you will want to germinate them in an area that receives plenty of sunlight.

There are some plants that will need cages or other means of support, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans.

Maintaining your container garden:
Inspect your plants each day and water, trim, train, remove pests, weeds, treat diseases, and/or prune them when it is needed. Continue your gardening education by talking with experienced gardeners in your area. They will know the best about what plants fare well in your region.

If you have plenty of yard space, but are dreading the time it takes to plant it, you might want to check out the Earthway Garden Seeder. It can save a lot of time and hassle.

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