Inspiring gardeners for more than 70 years!

Category: Vegetables

Customize Garden Fertilizer To Grow Vegetables

Customize Garden Fertilizer To Grow VegetablesIt is easier and better to use organic stuff to make fertilizer. You should buy all the ingredients separately so it is easy to customize. Things you might require to customize the fertilizer include canola seed meal, bone meal, kelp meal, and lime and one cubic yard of steer manure.

All these items along with your home compost should provide all the nutrition for vegetables to grow in your garden. If you follow the procedure everything will grow just fine with about one gallon of the mix on a bed three meters by three meters.

Fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, or NPK, which are expressed numerically on labels, such as 5-15-1. Each number represents the percentage of the total mix by weight.

The individual items procured by you would have the following composition for a customized fertilizer for your garden;

Canola meal -Slow release nitrogen and phosphorus with a trace of potassium, roughly 6-2-1.

Bone meal -Moderately slow release nitrogen and phosphorus for root development with the bonus of calcium, roughly 3-15-0.

Kelp meal: Relatively quick to release nitrogen but higher in potassium than seed meals and contains lots of trace minerals, about 1-1-2.

Compost: Improves aeration and moisture retention, about 1-1-1.

Blood meal: I don’t put it in my general purpose mix, but it can provide a  quick hit of nitrogen when slow-release isn’t doing the job, 14-0-0.

Basic customized garden fertilizer to grow vegetables will be mixed up in the combination and specified quantity of 10 parts canola seed meal +1 part lime + 1 part bone meal + 1 part kelp meal.

It is good to keep all the above the components of your fertilizer separate so that you can mix on the fly for each bed of vegetables you plant.

If you are growing potatoes in your garden remember not to include lime in your customized fertilizer. Similarly, tomatoes like phosphorus for fruit growth but prefer slow-release nitrogen.

(Adapted from Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon)

Growing Vegetables With Raised Beds in Your Garden

Growing Vegetables With Raised Beds in Your GardenRaised bed gardening is gaining popularity among the gardeners across the globe. Even the first time gardeners and homeowners with smaller yards, senior citizens, and novice gardeners are now understanding the importance of compact and easy-to-maintain gardens.

The gardening times are now changing and now you have raised beds in various sizes available in garden centers, catalogs and online. Interlocking corners make it possible to build one in a short period of time. Price varies with materials — plastic or cedar.

A 3-foot-by-6-foot, 10-inch deep bed will hold a variety of vegetables, both above ground and root plants such as tomatoes, herbs, onions, and carrots.

In case the raised bed is only 10 inches deep then you need to ensure that the soil on which it rests is cleared of all debris, grass removed and soil tilled to allow roots to extend into the soil beneath the bed. Fill the space with a mixture of hummus and garden soil. Fill the area to the top edge, dampen the soil and let the bed rest for a day or two, as the soil will settle. Add more soil if necessary.

When using a soaker hose or customized soaker system, lay it in a circular or serpentine pattern before planting. Both systems deliver water directly to the roots without wasting water. After planting, add a layer of mulch to trap moisture and to keep weeds at a minimum.

With raised beds in your garden, you may select any particular theme. Edible plants that are required for a type of food. One garden bed can grow enough produce provided you follow a little research before selecting the plants.

You can easily grow varieties of tomatoes and peppers. Herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and garlic may also be grown with raised beds. Onion sets may be planted two-inches apart around the edge.

Experienced gardeners suggest that a maintenance schedule involving weeding, watering, insect inspection, and harvesting is required.

Flowers grow well in raised beds. Plan a layout with taller plants in the center and graduate the plant sizes to the edge where cascading flowers provide an attractive border. Flower beds also should have the same maintenance schedule, but substitute deadheading for harvesting.

Growing Vegetables Outdoors All Winter Long

Hoop FrameIt is indeed possible if the plants are kept properly warm. It would be good to cover the plants during winters, tucking them in and letting the natural light do all the work. Learning this to do with a little skill would enable you to harvest fresh homegrown vegetables any time of year.

Gardeners know it well that planting vegetables normally wouldn’t grow well in winter. Every generation seems to have a better idea and sometimes these ideas give birth to new ideas.

An innovative idea would be to extend the growing season by at least a month on either end with the raised bed hoop house.  The wooden raised bed with required dimensions needs to be installed with flexibility for removable hoops that could be draped heavy with clear plastic. The bed could be as long as we wanted. The plastic should be used to keep out the cold air but let the sunlight in.

The beds should be no wider than four feet. This is because a person’s arm reach usually averages around two feet and this made it possible to pull weeds from either side without straining or having to walk onto the garden bed. Staying out of the garden bed avoided tamping down the soil.

It would be good to plant and seeds more than a month earlier than usual by keeping the plastic tucked around the hoops and the ends of the bed. You may take the plastic off the hoops for the summer, but at the end of the season, you should manage to keep cold tender plants going for a month longer than usual, even after a few good frosts.

Many vegetables including few varieties of lettuce and spinach and other greens can be harvested all winter long with a similar setup. Instead of using clear plastic you may also use floating row cover that keeps plants warm. Floating row cover also ensures keeping insects off the seedlings. The cover enables sunlight and water to permeate its fabric. Different types of row covers with varying strengths are available which would offer even more protection.

It is possible making the hoop houses portable so they can be moved from one garden bed to the other offering a chance to rotate the crops each season. It is extremely important to tuck the cover completely around the bed including both ends and secure it to the ground by either laying boards or pinning it tightly. You can lift off the plastic to harvest your lettuce or spinach, but cover it back up immediately and don’t lift it again until the next harvest.