Greetings everyone and, thank you for your continued following. This past week has brought us into unprecedented times, which we have been told to prepare for in the past but may have never imagined becoming harsh reality.
Remember to support each other in a good way, and be kind, as all of us are feeling some level of uncertainty and stress. This past week has truly rekindled the idea of victory gardens and neighborhood bartering.
I have received questions from folks who are in different garden group, located coast to coast. I decided to answer two questions per region for three general regions.
With the influx of questions, I also ask that those of you far away who can, please subscribe to the West River Eagle e-edition. It takes many hours of work by a dedicated staff to make this happen and great journalism cannot survive on good graces alone. I am far from being a journalist but I am learning so much in this adventure.
West Coast Tips
•What plants to start indoors now?
This is a great time to start your salad greens and squash plants. Find an area with at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. If you can, get some grow lights with LED bulbs– some models can simply clamp on to a table or stand. Depending on the desired size of your crop, you may want to use starter trays that hold up to 50 seed starts. If you have few, use a 4-inch pot so you only transplant once into the ground.
•Transplanting trees and shrubs:
March is a great time for transplanting and planting bare root plants from your local nursery. By getting bare root plants now, you will also save 50% on your retail cost because you are not paying for a pot and soil. If digging up a tree or shrub, be kind and patient. Dig from the drip line out and carefully dig down, cutting roots with care as you go. Cut the tap root and remove. Move the plant as little as possible and make your new home two times the diameter of the root ball and not too deep. The top of the ball should be level with your finished grade. If applying mulch, do not busy the crown or trunk as this can lead to fungal problems and rot. Water in well to get the air out. Move the plant in a low-sitting cart and cover root ball to help with soil loss while moving. For large trees, use a landscape service with a transplanting machine.
•Building container gardens:
When building a container garden, have a planting plan in mind and don’t be afraid to think outside the box to maximize your growing space. An example of maximizing space would be to build a planter along a fence or incorporate a trellis. On the trellis, plant your pole beans. In front of your brand, plant some beets and on the front edge, plant trailing spinach. 2-feet deep is ample soil for the season. If planting rides or deeper rooting plants, use a 3-foot deep planter. The frame should be treated 4×4 and then 1-inch thick plywood or 2×6 treated boards. Use 2×2 boards to reinforce corners or even make channels so you can easily remove boards for soil treatments and turning.
•Starting seed plants indoors:
It’s not too early to start your cool-weather seed starts. Start them now in 3-4 weeks, they should be 4 inches tall. If you have a greenhouse, fire up that heating system and keep the temperature at 65 and your humidity at 40%. Use 4-inch planters or 6-inch planters. Plants will need to be a bit bigger than other regions due to our short growing season. You should have 6 to 8-inch starts ready for the garden by May 5.
East Coast Tips
•Using munched leaves from ornamental beds and berms:
I would not recommend using mulch from your ornamental beds to be used in your vegetable garden. The ornamentals need this as well for weed prevention and long-term nutrients. The mulch could also have bacteria spores that are great for shrub areas but are bad for vegetable gardens.
•Lawn Aeration and using beneficial fungi to maximize water absorption:
I would recommend first that you consider giving up the lawn for growing food or cut flowers, but this is not realistic for everyone.
Getting water where you need it and keeping it there is something more and more turf enthusiasts are doing. First, aerate your lawn after your first substantial cut. Pick up your cores and plant them in thin areas then apply the fungi in a mix of clean sand. Rake and sweep into the holes. The fungi absorbs water and the roots grow through the medium, absorbing the saved water. In theory, you should be able to cut watering times by 1/3. Research on this is still ongoing in several state university programs.