Vegetable Gardening!

VEGETABLE GARDENING

 

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

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.

 

Fertilizer

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.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Start Composting

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Reduces Landfill Waste

Up to one- fourth of landfill waste could be use for composting instead of being thrown out. It’s crazy to think that a quarter of our waste can be used to create nutrient-rich soil.

Helps the Environment

Besides reducing the amount of garbage you send to the landfill, you are also helping with the reduction of greenhouse emissions and improving air quality,

Creates Organic Fertilizer

This fertilizer that you’ve created from your compost is safer and better to use for the environment compared to the chemical-filled ones sold in stores. It will act as a natural, slow- release fertilizer and pesticide.

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Having a Yard is Not Necessary

You can create your own or purchase a compost bin for indoors. It can be placed under your sink or in your bathroom! A compost bin doesn’t have a horrible stench to it  when it’s done correctly.

Saves Money

Besides purchasing the compost bin, producing compost is basically free!  You will also be saving money by reducing how much you spend on hauling your garbage away and purchasing less fertilizers for your garden.

Easy To Do & Not Time Consuming

Maintaining your compost bin only requires you to tend to it once a week. That’s right, it’s that effortless! All you will need to do is: add your leftovers to the bin, mix it up a week later and let it sit for another week. Viola, that is it! If you’re able to take your trash can to the curb once a week, you sure can compost!

Celebrate National Garden Month!

Get out the shovel and rake… April is National Garden Month and it’s time to celebrate!

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Go outside and take part in making your own yard or community a more greener and livable space. Here are 11 ways to celebrate this month:

1. Take part in ‘Row for the Hungry.’

This campaign encourages gardeners to plant an extra row of produce in their garden and donate their extra abundance of veggies to their local food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that help feed America’s hungry.

2. Visit your local farmers’ market.

Check out here for a list of the must visit farmers’ market in the Seattle & Eastside area.

3. Pick up trash on your street or at a local park.

4. Share your garden’s bounty with a neighbor or friend. 

5. Start a neighborhood garden club.

6. Organize a ‘Yard Share’ in your community.

This newest and rising trend is when people without yards are paired up with people who have one so they can grow their own food.

7.  Organize a community ‘Green-Up Day.

Organize a community- wide event day  during this month that is focused on greening up your neighborhood, town park or any other public space. All it takes is just one person to put it together!

8. Celebrate other important ‘green’ holidays.

National Gardening Week is from April 15 to April 21, Earth Day is on April 22 and National Arbor Day is on April 25.

9. Start a gardening project that involves a child. 

Take a look at our Pinterest board for ideas.

10. Clean out your gardening shed and donate your extra tools to a community garden or school gardening program.

11. Begin a ‘flower brigade’ and delivery flowers or houseplants to nursing homes or hospitals. 

 

Now, go get your GREEN ON!