Vegetable gardening in the Northwest is always an adventure. Our ever-changing weather patterns have sent the urban farmer back to the drawing board, looking to utilize that unpredictability to our benefit.
Leading the way is the use of raised beds, containers and straw bales which help to warm the soil faster and allow earlier planting of seeds and starts.
In addition, raised beds, etc. give you greater control of growing conditions such as soils, fertilizer application and pest management.
There are literally hundreds of books, articles and publications that rely on specially blended soils, homemade fertilizers, PH adjusting amendments and more.
Our intent is to help you understand the basics, so you can then experiment and add your own personal touch.
There is no absolute right or wrong in gardening. What works for you and produces the best results is the right choice.
Soil is a combination of ground rocks, decomposed organic plant material, sand and clay. It also harbors trace amounts of minerals, insects, beneficial microbes, bacteria, fungal growth, water and air.
The Grange offers the following soils and amendments to compliment your particular type of garden.
Potting Soil – A lightweight blend containing a good amount of peat moss and perlite. A great choice of indoor houseplants and any native plants that require an acid soil.
Planting Mix – Combination of topsoil, compost and PH adjusters. Great as an all purpose soil for garden beds and outdoor containers. Can be used for direct planting.
Planting Compost – Similar to the planting mix but heavier on the compost. Can be planted directly. Best for planting fruit trees or larger broadleaf and coniferous trees.
Raised Bed Mix – Good, lighter weight “ready-to-use” soil for the raised bed or container,
Soil Building Compost – This is a good “all purpose” compost used for supplementing garden beds, top dressing flower beds and as a mulch to cover new grass seed.
Harvest Supreme – Mostly used to amend garden beds. This is a very rich compost that should be mixed in with existing soil. It contains 15% chicken manure making it the only additive you will need for refreshing your garden beds.
For those folks who prefer the old standbys, we still carry chicken and steer manure as well as wormgold compost.
N-P-K – This is the rating given to fertilizers that indicates the percentages of active ingredients. The numbers differ in regards to what is being fertilized.
N – Nitrogen. This is for greening. Higher nitrogen is used for lawns, conifers and other “non-flowering” plants. Blood meal, fish meal, bat guano and ammonium sulfate are good sources for nitrogen.
P – Phosphorous. For buds and blooms. Those fertilizers listed for flower production will have a higher P percentage. Bone meal, fish bone meal, soft rock phosphate and triple super phosphate are good sources of phosphorous.
K – Potash. This aids in root development and general plant health. Higher levels of potash are good for root crops like potatoes, carrots and beets. Kelp meal, myriad of potash and wood ash are good sources of Potash.
Organic vs synthetic – The most noticeable difference is in the NPK ratings. Synthetics can be concentrated to reach higher levels. Lawn food can be as high as 46% nitrogen whereas organic lawn food is usually around 9%.
Synthetics directly feed the plant, organics feed the plant as well as the soil microbes.
Some synthetics are coated for a timed release feeding and will provide food earlier in the season when the soil is cool. Organics tend to last longer but usually activate when the soil is above 50 degrees.
Over-fertilizing with organics is usually just a waste of fertilizer but over doing it with synthetics can burn the plant and lead to shorter root growth and decreasing plant health.
Organic vs Certified Organic – “Organic” means the ingredients come from natural organic materials such as cottonseed meal, bone meal, etc.
“Certified Organic” means there is a paper trail documenting that the ingredients were grown free of GMO’s, synthetic pesticides, and chemicals.
What & When
Veggies are broken down to cool and warm season.
Cool season vegetables are those of which we eat the leaves, flowers and roots, (lettuce, broccoli, carrots, spinach).
Warm season includes those that provide us with seeds, pods and actual fruit, (tomatoes, green beans, squash). The one exception is that peas prefer a cooler season.
Contingent on the weather, cool season can be planted March through May with a secondary planting in August. Warm season usually starts around late April to mid May or whenever the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees.