March 18, 2012

New Gardening Tip - DIY Gardening with Mr. C.

Because there are so many things to do when the weather breaks in spring, I want to offer a few brief tips you may find helpful.

Planning: Review last years garden layout and notes to try to rotate your planting. Do you have left-over seeds? My rule for seeds (kept in my outdoor shed) is to expect a 10% loss of germination per year. (seeds kept in ideal conditions like the Egyptian tombs germinated after 3000 years)

Indoor seed starting: For seeds to sprout, they need moisture, a medium (like potting soil), warmth, and  light (after seedlings emerge). A sunny window or fluorescent light is ideal. Use new (or sanitized) pots and potting soil (to avoid fungus). Don't over-water. For more info, click here.

Garlic growers: Remove protective leaf  cover and spread a layer of finished compost. Raw leaves are not beneficial on or in the soil.

Soil preparation: Remove any weeds that appeared over the winter (you did clean them up and loosen the soil in the fall didn't you?). If you grow in raised beds, you will have better drainage and soil can be worked earlier. You also won't have to bend over as far (even a few inches less gets more important to me as I age). My beds sides are 4" but I boost them up with 2" of flat rocks (surprisingly not much dirt leaks out under the sides into the sides of the path). The tops of the two sides are connected with slats, but since the beds are 25 ft long, the bottoms of the 2x4's were pushing out. I drove stakes, straightened the sides, and screwed them to the stakes. In the process, I am also widening my paths from 12" to 14". I realized that it was worth giving up some bed width to allow me to maneuver easier.

What to plant in the ground now? As soon as the soil is workable (typically by St. Pat's day), I put up 24" fences (where I grew corn last year) for support and plant Little Marvel peas (on both sides). I had taken the fences down after the peas died off to clean up and make room for bush beans. Note: Both peas and beans benefit if treated with inoculant during planting(available at Agway). I also plant Sugar-snap, Wando, and Early-frosty next to my 8 ft permanent fences. Also immune to frost are lettuce, radishes, spinach, and onions/shallots.

Dried beans: If you have beans (like I do) that dried before they froze last fall, pick them off before they split open. Plant them after mid May.

Raspberries: If you didn't prune the old canes and dead tops from last year's new ones, do it now.

Winter tree wrap: Remove now to prevent fungus growth.

Clean up flower beds: Remove weeds, dead remains of last year's growth and tree leaves.

Lawns: Roll or tamp down the eruptions that appear in the spring.

Gardening exercise: Keep in mind that you will be using muscles that may not have used since fall. When raking, work in front of you, not to the side.

Get outside and start taking advantage of the early spring - Mr. C..


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