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Getting Ready for Spring Planting

March 9, 2013

After a kind of rough last year (tornado, my inexperience, water issues, etc), I’m setting off on an early start this year.  Over the winter I have done some reading and online research.  Today, I went to a presentation at the Strange’s Nursery on N. Gayton Road.  The event was titled “Getting Started with Early Spring Cool Weather Vegetables.”  Fortunately for me the presentation was as much geared to “getting started” basics as it was on early vegetables.  Presentation was by Sunny.  Below are my notes:

  • Containers are excellent choices for beginners.  Many things actually grow better in containers.  Always use “potting mix” for containers.  If it’s not labeled as potting mix it should not be used.
  • Plant root vegetables in March.
  • Bare root starters are best approach.  You can alternatively plant from seed in the fall, but never good idea to do seed in spring.  You want seeds germinated already by spring.
  • Always allow plants to dry between waterings.  Over-watering is most common mistake.  Plants need time to dry a bit.
  • Always water in morning to avoid rot.  Evening and overnight waterings invite rot growth.  Fungus grows at night.
  • Rotate positions/containers of crops every 3 years.  This allows new plants to ‘pull out’ bad items in soil that developed to attack previous plants.
  • Beans in particular are great soil ‘cleaners’.  All types of beans.
  • Keep plants separate or companioned based on water needs.  Example, tomatoes are water hogs while peppers like it drier.
  • Common pest for this area at this time of year (March) is the Cabbage Moth.  Small white moths that lay eggs on plants – especially ‘head’ plants like cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.  The eggs produce a small, green worm-like larvae that will destroy plants.  Need to treat plants at first sign of moths since it will be too late once larvae hatch.  Sunny recommended Dipet Dust.  (There is also a more expensive liquid form of Dipet that lasts longer.)
  • Mentioned plants that fight pests.  (Need to research this more.) Often these can be aromatic plants like herbs that keep away pests by their odor, yet are great for cooking.  Also mentioned Marigolds.  Chives were said to be a good pest chaser.
  • Recommend use of bird-netting, resting it right on top of the plants.  Especially good for strawberries.  Will keep away land pests like rabbits and deer as well as birds.
  • Mentioned a product called a ‘potato bag’.  This apparently telescopes up to allow adding more soil over time so potatoes (maybe other root vegetables, too) can continue to grow.  Flaps on sides allow you to reach in an harvest potatoes.  One of the other Strange’s employees mentioned “pallet gardening” for potatoes.  Stacking pallets as potatoes grow and removing lower pallets for harvest.  Not sure how that would work.
  • Sunny’s recommended fertilizer was Garden Tone Organic.  Good even if you are not actually using organic gardening approach.
  • Composting was discussed but I would consider that well beyond my scope this year.
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