Friday, May 7, 2010

It's Warming UP!

I love reading all the home garden blogs. Seeing the creative ways people across the world grow their gardens. Some of the bloggers are telling of their early vegetable gardens and others will wax on about their gorgeous borders and unique plants. It is a joy to share a passion with others.

Like you all know, there is no vegetable garden here this year. We couldn’t prepare the soil if we tried. It has rained so much this spring; the ground is like soup at times. This weekend is supposed to be lovely with temps in the high 60’s to low 70’s! Oh, we are looking forward to some real sun!

I am sure local gardeners are chomping at the bit to get some veggies in the ground. But wait; check out the texture of the soil first, please. If your garden soil is still wet and sticky, refrain from tilling until the soil has time to drain out. Working the soil before it is dry enough can damage it and it will take years to restore your tilth. Best to watch when the local farmers are plowing their fields and time your tilling to coincide with them.

About 30 years ago we lived out in Perrydale. It was a great old farmhouse with a great-sized garden. Our landlords lived next door and plowed up extra garden space for us. We planted our garden a bit at a time; watching the air and soil temperatures to make sure we got the optimum seed germination. While the landlords replanted beans and corn several times, the spring was cold and wet like this one, we only planted once.

Back then, we watched The Victory Garden every week, gleaning what we could. Of course, we subscribed to Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening. We read Ruth Stout, Square Foot Gardening, Rodale's Organic Gardeningand many more.

We’ve tried some strange garden items; like kohlrabi before anyone we knew were eating it, turban squash that were not seen in the stores (Hubbard was the only squash most stores carried), seedless watermelons that astonished everyone, luffa that rotted before it dried enough to make a scrubber, etc.

We fell in love with the idea of growing plants in beds rather than rows. With beds about 3’x6’ we had less ground going into aisles and more going into production. We just cast seed out into the bed, keeping the plants at the right spacing when we thinned the crop. I think the root crops were easier to harvest since the ground around them was never walked on. Because corn is wind pollinated; if you plant a long row you won’t get many ears. Planted in a square or rectangle you will get more ears.

The message here is simple: Do your homework before getting out to play in the dirt. Pay attention to the details of soil and temperature so you don’t waste money on ruining your soil or paying for more seed than you need to.

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