Thursday, March 25, 2010

Simple Raised Bed Crop Rotation

Simple Raised Bed Crop Rotation

Remember as you plant this season to rotate your crops. One of the keys to organic pest control and healthy growth is to rotate crops.

I always keep a garden journal of where I planted each year and the results, that way the next year I can see what works and make sure I rotate crops. Now if you didn't do this, that's ok, just make your best guess and then make sure you keep track this year.

So here's some easy bed rotations: You can rotate in 1/2's , 1/4's or Sideways. With 1/2's you just flip flop sides each year with your crops (good for just a few crops). With 1/4's you just rotate from 1 corner to the next, etc... (good for 4 or more crops) And with sideways rotations you just rotate from right to left in sections (good for multiple crops-base number of sections on number of crops).

Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Monday, March 22, 2010

A Simple Raised Bed Garden Plan (part 2)

Fiber-rich root vegetables, such as beets, rut...Image via Wikipedia
A Simple Raised Bed Garden Plan (part 2)

Now for part 2 ...

2 Weeks After Last Frost

Set out:
Tomatoes - 4 plants
Bell Peppers - 4 plants
Sweet Basil - 1 plant
Cucumbers - 4 plants
Zinnias - 3 plants

Plant:
Pumpkins - 2 seeds
Zucchini - 2 seeds

6-8 Weeks After Last Frost

As first crops come out, plant:
Early Corn - 24 seeds
Bush Limas - 36 seeds
Cosmos - 1 seed

14 Weeks After Last Frost

As potatoes come out, plant:
Corn - 32 seeds
Bush Green Beans - 25 seeds

8-12 Weeks Before First Frost

Start seedlings:
Leaf Lettuce - 16 seeds
Head Lettuce - 10 seeds
Broccoli - 7 seeds
Calendulas - 5 seeds

4-8 Weeks Before First Frost

As early corn comes out, set out:
Leaf Lettuce - 8 plants
Head Lettuce - 5 plants
Broccoli - 5 plants
Calendulas - 5 plants

Plant:
Carrots - 96 seeds
Peas - 218 seeds
Chard - 2 seeds
Radishes - 43 seeds

Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Simple Raised Bed Garden Plan (part 1)

A Simple Raised Bed Garden Plan (part 1)

Now there are ways to extend your season (see past posts), but for now here's a basic plan for 3 raised beds.

This plan is based on 3 4x8 beds (adapt for more). Again 4x8 beds are best because they are made from standard size 8ft lumber which keeps costs down and 4ft wide means that its 2ft to center from each side, which makes easier access. (adjust vegetable choices to your preferences)



 6 Weeks Before Last Frost of Spring

Start seedlings:
Cabbage - 8 seeds
Broccoli - 4 seeds
Leaf Lettuce - 10 seeds
Head Lettuce - 6 seeds

2 Weeks Before Last Frost of Spring

Set out:
Cabbage - 4 plants
Broccoli - 2 plants
Leaf Lettuce - 5 plants
Head Lettuce - 3 plants

Plant:
Bush Peas - 218 seeds
Carrots - 96 seeds
Beets - 17 seeds
Onions - 60 sets
Radishes - 43 seeds

Start seedlings:
Tomatoes - 8 seeds
Peppers - 8 seeds
Sweet Basil - 2 seeds
Zinnias - 6 seeds
Cucumbers - 8 seeds

On Last Frost Day

Plant:
Potatoes - 35 starts

That should get you started for now, my next post will cover part 2.

Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Greenhouse Gardening

A Greenhouse Will Get You Growing!

For people who want an early start or would like to do more gardening but live in a short growing season area, a hobby greenhouse is the answer. A hobby greenhouse is not large enough to produce vegetables or flowers on a commercial basis. It will, however, give you a place for a tomato plant or two and some fresh greens even if you live in the northern regions.

Greenhouse enthusiasts even have their own association, called the Hobby Greenhouse Association, which publishes a quarterly magazine. The organization also sponsers events and helps individuals connect to get help with whatever aspect of gardening that they are interested in, whether it's growing cacti or saving seeds.

If you are in the market for a hobby greenhouse, there are several types on the market. The smallest type is not large enough to walk into and must be accessed from the outside. It resembles an old-fashioned phone booth made all of glass and outfitted with shelves. This type is designed to fit as many plants as possible in as small a place as possible. The shelves are made of glass to allow as much light as possible to reach plants on the lower shelves.

Another inexpensive version of this sort of hobby greenhouse is shelving covered with a zippered tent of clear plastic. This sort of arrangement is great for the small-scale hobby gardener wanting a place to keep flowers or plant starts.

There are a variety of greenhouse designs that are large enough to walk into but made entirely of clear glass or plastic. They are often about the same size as a small storage building. Some independent builders have started making these to sell locally.

Among national brands, one of the nicest is called the "Solar Prism." It is called this because of it's unique construction. This greenhouse is made of a single piece of durable clear plastic which is designed to work like tiny prisms side by side. They trap the rays of the sun and shoot them back into the greenhouse at all angles. For this reason, these little greenhouses are said to glow when the weather is cloudy.

Better hobby greenhouses are equipped with automatic sensors that open vents which allow ventilation and keep the interior temperatures from getting too high. These are a great labor saver, but can get expensive. Another benefit sometimes found in nicer greenhouses is a built in irrigation or misting system. Members of the Hobby Greenhouse Association, or HGA, have invented many interesting designs of greenhouses.

If gardening is your hobby, greenhouse growing will interest you. With a greenhouse, you can have the earliest tomatoes, along with salad greens all year. You can also start seedlings for the main garden early in the spring when outdoor temperatures would otherwise kill them. A hobby greenhouse can be a good investment.

Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gardening Gifts for Valentines Day

Gardening Gifts for Valentines Day

Forget the candy. There is nothing nicer than receiving a gift relating to one's passion. If your loved one's passion is gardening, then show your thoughtfulness by giving a gift that will be truly appreciated. There are so many great gardening gifts that the only constraint is your own budget.

If your budget is small, go for things like gardening gloves, kneepads or even a shady hat. A pretty pot (or a watering-can) filled with a small bag of potting mix, a packet of bulbs, some gloves and a small trowel or other tool will be received with delight by most gardeners. There are many hand tools at hardware stores that are reasonably priced.

If you feel that is too ordinary, how about a subscription to a gardening magazine? A tiny bit more expensive perhaps, but it will give twelve full months of delight. A book on gardening is another idea, but make sure your recipient does not already have the one you choose.

On the other hand, a pot that contains a flowering plant is usually a welcomed gift. Be sure to choose a plant that is suited to your climate. Sometimes plants are sent from tropical to temperate zones and kept in artificial conditions in the store. These plants will not do well once taken from their environment. Shrub roses are hardy and attractive and grow in many climates. Tulips do best in the cooler climate.

If your budget is strong, a more expensive tool may be appropriate. A pull-trolley is easier to use than a wheelbarrow and, like some electric tools, is still not terribly expensive. Small electric tools such as whipper-snippers can retail for as little as $20.00. Or if your friend has a hose but not a hose reel, then that would be a more useful gift that they would truly appreciate.

Automatic lawn mowers, electric cultivators, hedge trimmers and brush cutters are in the more expensive price range and you are the only one who can decide whether that is an appropriate gift. However, when the recipient realizes you have given a gift that complements their passion, expensive or not, it will certainly become the best gift your friend has ever received.

Happy gardening,
--Greg

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