Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dianne Shows Us How - Part II

Continuing our recap of Dianne's demonstration to a group of friends about how she gardens.  Find Part I here.  Part III to come...

I heard about Square Foot Gardening and thought I'd try it.  I use twine to mark off squares of one foot in the beds.

Note the twine
I sort of like the measurements, but a lot of time the twine just gets in the way. I'm leaving it there though, as it may be deterring the squirrels. I guess I could try not putting twine on the new one and see if it matters.

I made up this grid that I use for planning and recording what I do in each bed.  I note what I planted and when and then try to keep notes about production and problems.  This one is titled "Spring," but you can make up your own for each season.

You should follow directions on the seed packet (or research on the Web) about how to plant your seeds.  Or if you're planting starter plants, in general plant them at the same depth as they are in the cell pack.  The exception would be tomatoes, which you plant deeper so that part of the stem is underground.  If you've followed the instructions about how to set up your raised bed, there's no need to add additional fertilizers at this time.  Having said that, it's always a good idea to do a soil test, just in case.  It's easy to do.  There are kits at local garden stores, or you can send a sample to the UT Agricultural Extension Office.  Instructions for the latter are here.

After planting, just wait and watch.  When you have a garden, it's good to check it every day.  That way you can nip problems in the bud, so to speak(!), before they have a chance to take over.  Things are going to happen that you have no idea what they are or how to treat them. Believe me.  So go to your trusty computer and do some research.  Take a picture and post it on the MAMG Facebook page and ask for help.  Call the MAMG hotline at 901-752-1207 and ask a Master Gardener for help.

Here's my recipe for an organic insect/disease killer:

     1 Tablespoon Neem
     1 Tablespoon bt (the brand I use is Thuricide by Hi-Yield)
     1 Tablespoon liquid seaweed

Mix above in one gallon of water and spray on plants.  You'll want to spray again after a rain.

This brings up a salient point:  watering.  It's best to have a drip irrigation system that delivers water to the base of the plants.  Wetting the foliage just brings on lots of problems.  How often do you water?  Great question!  You have to weigh a lot of factors.  Temperature, amount and timing of sunlight, rainfall - these all must be taken into consideration when deciding on your watering schedule.  It's more art than science and you'll have to experiment.

A great book
I don't think I mentioned before that I have found this book to be a great resource.  The Tennessee Fruit and Vegetable Book by Felder Rushing and Walter Reeves is out of print now, but you can probably find it at Amazon or eBay.  Suzanne found a copy on the Barnes and Noble site for about $13.  I got mine at a garage sale (for much less!)


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