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Tis the Seedson…

To be planting seeds in your garden or getting your garden ready for the season.

Things to be doing if you already have a garden

1) Get rid of any debris left from last year– Ideally this should have been done in the fall, because many pests survive the winter in last year’s plant stems and other plant remains. However, if you didn’t, then it should be removed now and put in your compost bin/pile (you have one of these, right?).

2) Add compost– Compost is the lifeblood of a healthy vegetable garden. Compost should be added every year (~ 1/2″) or every other year (~1″). It adds nutrients; beneficial bacteria, fungi, and insects; adds and helps retain moisture; and reduces your trash removal bill.


Garlic- planted last fall

3) Planting seeds in your garden– At this point the seeds that can be safely planted directly in the ground (even if normal spring temperatures return) include Beets and Swiss chard, Peas (need to be planted now because they hate hot weather), carrots, anything in the cabbage family (Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Mustard, Turnips, Radishes, Turnips- though Brussels sprouts do better in fall plantings), anything in the onion family (Onions, Leeks, Scallions- leeks have to be planted now because they take a long time to mature), and most leafy greens (Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach).

Cold Frame

Cold Frame

4) Starting seeds in your basement/greenhouse/cold frame– Many plants need enough time to mature and so need to be started now, but can’t be planted outdoors yet because they can’t survive freezing temperatures (and yes, we will get more nights below freezing this season). These include, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and loofas. They can be started under lights inside, in greenhouses, or in cold frames (sort of a mini-greenhouse). You can learn how to do this at my Seed Starting class next Saturday.

Garden Pathways

Garden pathways mean never having to till.

5) Don’t till– Tilling is turning over the soil, usually with a shovel, pitchfork or rototiller. For those of you have gardened for a long time not tilling may sound like heresy, but tilling does more harm than good. It breaks up the natural structure of soil, bring weed seeds to the surface were they will germinate (sprout), and is a lot of work. The only reason to till is if you’ve compacted the soil in your garden by walking on it. To avoid compacting your soil, your planting areas should be no more than 4′ wide with pathways between them. This way you never walk on your soil and you never need to till again. If you did walk on your planting areas last year you should rearrange your garden as above and make this the last year you till.

Spinach the Survived the Winter

Spinach- survived the winter without protection

6) Install a Drip Irrigation System– This will save you many hours of standing in front of your garden with a hose, hundreds of gallons of water, help prevent many diseases, and will reduce your weeding. It does all of this by delivering water only to the plants you want to grow (not the weeds), delivers it at ground level (so leaves don’t get and stay wet), and keeps all the water in your garden. Drip irrigation may seem intimidating to install but it’s really fairly straight-forward. There are lost of places you can get the equipment, but I like Dripworks. Their website is clear and they will actually help you design your system.

Things to be doing if you don’t have a garden

What do you mean you don’t have a garden? Well, then you should be taking one of my upcoming Organic Gardening classes, of course!! Hope to see you there.

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