Archive for the ‘Nutrients in the Garden’ Category

Nutrients in the Garden 16: Weeding the Garden

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
“Moooooom, your garden is weedy!” said a bossy little five-year old. She is good at pointing out the obvious. After some much needed rain and sunshine, the garden is bursting with green, most of it weeds. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 15: Thinning Small Seeded Vegetables

Saturday, May 24th, 2014
I am a bit frustrated in the garden. I don’t even want to show you these pictures.  Can you see this row? It’s supposed to be a row of broccoli and it’s actually a pile of broccoli sprouts. Not sure what I am going to do here, I am considering putting my cucumbers there since we failed at getting a good stand. There are several other rows of seeds that did not come up and they should have by now. I think we may have covered the seeds too deeply. I do have a good stand of peas, lettuce and radishes. Tonight we thinned all three. Thinning is the process of removing seedlings from the row. I don’t like to be crowded and neither do seedlings. If plants are overcrowded, they fight for nutrients and water producing a smaller weaker plant. With a small amount of space to garden we need to use water, soil and nutrients as efficiently as possible. When sowing seeds, we often over seed. This helps ensure we have a good population rate or a good stand of seedlings. When two seedlings are too close to each other, I simply pull the smaller, weaker seedling. It seems a bit of a waste but it is a common garden practice. In a perfect garden (aren’t we all striving for perfection), the plants grow in nice straight lines and each plant is evenly spaced according to the spacing requirement for each vegetable. Thinning helps the gardener obtain this goal. Farmers are much better at this. Over time equipment has allowed farmers to plant with proper depth and spacing, eliminating the need for hand thinning. Can you imagine hand thinning one acre of lettuce? Thanks goodness farming has evolved and we all don’t have to rely on humans to do…

Nutrients in the Garden 14: Protect Your Plants From Frost

Friday, May 16th, 2014
It was 33 degrees last night and 34 degrees the night before. Do you know what these cold temperatures do to tender tomatoes and flowers? Death! Look at this poor little thing. It didn't even got the chance to bloom before being hit with a frost! One of my friends called last night, she lost twenty tomato plants. Twenty, yikes! A huge loss of time and money. Can you imagine what this is like for a farmer who is raising acres of crops and loses everything due to weather? Their entire livelihood, or a portion of it, can be lost in one night. That’s the reality of farming- whether it is citrus, leafy greens, tomatoes, or corn. All farmers are dependent and affected by the weather. You, my garden friend, and I are lucky because the size of our gardens allows us to protect tender plants when we have a late spring frost. Keep an eye on the forecast in your area. There are a few meteorologists that put out a frost advisory and remind us to go out and protect our young plants. You can use sheets, blankets, buckets, milk jugs, wall-o-water, or anything you can think of to create a barrier between the plant and the chilly air. This will save you money, time, and your future harvest. I am lucky that I didn't lose any plants in the last two nights, but not because of my gardening skills. I hate to admit that we have been too busy to garden. Why does May always get so busy? I'm running a million different directions with my girls these past few weeks. Thankfully, the little bit of gardening we have done is now sprouting. Check out my radishes! Not too glorious, but a start!   What is glorious is all…

Nutrients in the Garden 13: 5 Steps To Directly Sow Seeds

Friday, May 9th, 2014
Between soccer games, track practice, birthday parties, and life we finally started planting the garden. The girls were as excited as I was to be digging and planting. We had limited time before the sun set, so I handed the camera to twelve year old and started sowing. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 12: How To Read A Fertilizer Label

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
As promised, this week we are looking at fertilizer labels. When you walk into the garden center you will see there are lots of different choices. Below, I show different samples of fertilizers. I am not promoting one or the other; I use a variety of different fertilizers for different purposes. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 11: Why Fertilize?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Snow and rain have me talking about gardening rather than actually gardening. I’m not complaining. We need the moisture and it gives me the opportunity to help a few friends by planting seeds of inspiration for their first garden. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 10: Prepare & Amend

Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Oh, my sore muscles! I took advantage of the sunshine and removed some plant stubble that was in the garden since last fall. It felt good getting dirty and putting in a few hours of hard work. These sore muscles remind me that gardening is great exercise and part of a healthy lifestyle! How many overweight gardeners do you know? (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 9: When To Plant

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Spring is such a tease! Yesterday at noon it was 72 degrees and then by three o’clock it was 42 degrees with 35 MPH winds. Days like that remind me why we are not in the garden yet, even though it is technically spring.  It’s not time. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 8: Soil for Container Gardening

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
While working on our advanced degrees, my husband and I lived in a tiny apartment with an even tinier balcony. We were living off student loans and trying to make the most of it. (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 7: Soil for Raised Beds

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Gardening in raised beds is extremely popular and a great choice for a beginning gardener. I gardened in raised beds for nine years and had great success (minus a splinter or two). The best advantage to this form of gardening is the opportunity to fill the bed with soft, nutrient rich soil! (more…)

Nutrients in the Garden 6: Get Acquainted With Your Soil

Monday, March 10th, 2014
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “He who plants a garden plants happiness.” I could not agree more. If you have been following the blog from the beginning of this series, you are four steps closer to planting happiness. You have decided why you want to garden, you know where to put your garden, you know what you want to plant, and you have a map of your plan!   Now, we talk about the most important ingredient to your gardening success: soil! Side note: I prefer not to call it dirt. Dirt is the stuff I tell my kids to wipe off their feet before coming into the house. Soil is where our food comes from. Without soil, we are naked and hungry. Soil is cultivated by hard working farmers that keep us fed and clothed. It is critical to our mortality; out of respect for this precious resource, I prefer to call it soil. This is where you want to get it right! With the wrong soil, your garden will struggle and you might consider throwing in the trowel and giving up. Simply put, poor soil = poor garden. We can prevent this by doing our homework now, while it’s still too cold to garden. There are over 70,000 types of soil and they are not all created equally; some soils are more plant friendly than others. Soils can have too much clay, be too sandy, too compacted, too acidic... the list goes on, but don’t worry, soil can be improved! Keep in mind that if you are dealing with a dire soil situation, sometimes it is easier to garden in pots or a raised bed, because you have total control over the type of soil you use. If you choose to garden the traditional way, cultivating a spot in…