Are You Happy W/ Your Garden Did it produce the volume you wanted? Did veggies taste better than store bought? Did they look perfect? Was your garden more work then you thought? Did it get taken over by weeds? Any watering issues?
Ingredients For First Year Success Good, deep soil; add organic matter Give your plants the nutrients, water, and sunlight they need Prevent weeds from growing Give it a little time each day Realize that a perfect harvest is a dream ENJOY!
1st Things 1st Cleanliness is very important here Diseases and insects like to over winter in plant litter!!!! Completely remove all questionable material Remove old mulch Allow soil to breathe for a few days Soil test every 3 years
Testing the Soil Well-drained (drainage test) Friable - deep, crumbly; allows for maximum root growth. (squeeze test) Test your soil; 6.0-6.8 is preferred pH range!!! Good soil test can actually save you money! Urban/suburban soils are often low quality soils pH must be corrected for healthy plants
Soil Gets “No Respect” Just like Rodney Dangerfield soil is often an after thought It gets compacted when driven on, walked on and over watered It’s left uncovered; there is never bare soil in nature Remember It supports all plant life which in turns supports animals and of course us
Who Has Ideal Soil Not most gardeners! Fortunately almost any soil can be made suitable for a vegetable garden At least on a backyard scale Ideal soil has by volume, half solid matter, half pore space, with half those pores filled with water. Mixed organic matter plays an important role. It glues together small minerals and acts like a sponge to hold water.
Improving the Soil with Organic Matter!! Regular additions of organic matter will improve soil structure and create a reservoir of slow-release nutrients Sources: manure, compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, organic mulches, plant roots, cover crops, buried kitchen scraps, barn leavings etc. Maple leaves are the fastest to break down, Oak leaves are slowest Large amounts of organic matter may be needed for several years
“To Till or Not to Till” or Rototillitis Benefits of a rototiller: – great for turning under cover crops, residues, manure – makes soil loose and weed-free for planting – can disrupt pest populations in the soil Potential problems: – damaged soil structure – soil compaction if machine is over-used – disruption of soil food web – freshly tilled soil is prone to erosion – “burns up” organic matter faster – brings weed seeds to the surface – extra work Permanent cover, no compaction, no tillage = conditions that plants have grown in for eons!!
No Dig and Other Low Effort Gardens Lasagna Gardening Ruth Stout Gardening “Weedless” Gardening Square foot Gardening Instant Gardening Gin and Tonic Gardening
Sheet/Lasagna Compost Your Way to a Fast Vegetable Garden!
Layer It All In If starting a new garden don’t remove grass clippings Lay cardboard or newspaper down first 2 to 4 inches of leaves, straw (brown matter) 2 to 4 inches of grass clippings (green matter) Pile it high up (16 inches or more) Mix in peat moss, kitchen scraps, compost, manure, etc. Cover it in black plastic, poke it, and let it cook all winter!!!
Raised Beds s ome advantages… Warm up quickly in the spring Drain well; less compaction and erosion Increases rooting depth Can produce greater yields per square foot Use fewer amendments
Develop a Mulch Mentality Straw, leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, peat moss, newspaper, cardboard, etc. Plastic, rocks, rubber, etc. 2 to 8 inches plus No bare soil Cover crops? Moderates soil temperatures Some mulches may confuse pests A good layer of mulch=LESS WEEDS
What Else Do You Need Sun light plants will do there best with 6 to 8 hours Water ideally at base of plant (soaker hoses or drip lines) Keep a look out for insects and diseases
Oops!! Garden Mistakes Letting weeds go to seed Over-fertilizing Saving seeds from hybrid plants Planting too closely together Buying plants already in bloom, fruiting or root bound All work and no relaxation makes gardening a chore!
Resources Grow it! Eat it!- http://extension.umd.edu.growit – Join the network! Access to valuable and practical gardening tips and information. Share your experiences in our blog. Maryland Master Gardener Program- http://extension.umd.edu/mg – Consider becoming a MG volunteer in Frederick County Home and Garden Information Center- http://extenstin.umd.edu.hgic – Can answer your gardening questions… – Call the “hotline” Mon-Fri, 8am-1pm. 1-800-342-2507 – Send an e-mail question 24/7 through this web site. www.sharingbackyards.com
Thank You! Please take a few minutes to complete a short survey for today’s class. Good luck with your garden. Equal Opportunity Employer/ Equal Access Programs
This program was brought to you by Maryland Master Garden Program Howard County University of Maryland Extension