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Is your garden ready?

 

Kathy
Henderson
Columnist

  It is getting close to the time to plant tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, corn and a myriad of other veggies in your garden. But with this a few weeks away, it is definitely time to get that soil prepared and there is no time like today. Whether you plant in raised beds, a half-acre plot, just slap a few plants into your flower bed or grow them in a large pot, get the soil ready for some gardening fun and success.

  If you are planting individual plants like tomatoes and peppers, go ahead and prepare a large hole by adding compost or manure and mixing it well with your garden soil. If this is your first experience with planting a garden, this soil preparation is of prime importance. The success of your plants and their fruits will depend upon the quality of your soil.

  Soil needs to be fertile (with organic matter), drain well, and have a proper pH (acidity measure) for the crop you are planting. A loamy (containing some sand and clay and organic matter) soil is best. You are truly blessed if this is what you already have in your property, but most of us have a heavy clay base. That is okay. You will just have to add some sand and lots of good organic matter - garden soil, ground bark, home-made compost, manure (that is not too fresh) and any other organic material that you can find. Mix well! Making a large planting hole that has all the ingredients previously mentioned will give your new plant a great environment in which to develop a large and strong root system.

  Agricultural Limestone is important in the garden to give your soil a proper pH which is around 6.5. This can be tested with a soil testing kit. Our native soil has a tendency to be a bit acidic and this can tie up nutrients that the plant needs. By adding some good agricultural lime, we release those nutrients and give our plant stems calcium to enable them to develop strong stems.

  If you get this soil ready now, then when the danger of frost is over (around the 15th of April), you will be ready to plant. I will probably wait until a little later - I like to put my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and beans into warm ground. Just because the air is warm, it does not mean the soil is warm. Warm soil develops roots quickly and that is what you want to happen. Squash, cucumbers, okra, and watermelon really need to be planted in May. They will do so much better in good warm soil.

  Dying to plant something right now? Plant some English Peas, radishes, carrots and lettuces (might need to cover lettuces with a sheet if we have frost). I am enjoying my collards and kale that I planted last fall. They survived the cold very well.

  It is a good time to plant those perennial herbs in the garden - you will need these to go with those delicious veggies later on. Wait on the basil - plant it with the tomatoes.

 

 

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