If you are a gardener or even if you are not, you know that plant life comes into life in the spring after a dormant winters rest, and that is when the most of us start our gardens. To some of us we like to garden year round, and also keep plants inside, especially flower plants. Others that love their outside gardens may go to the extent of cold frames, hoop houses, green houses and sometimes even heated green houses to extend the season. You can even use cold frames inside your unheated green houses and harvest year round certain vegetables.
I will try and keep this interesting and try to keep it in the right perspective for those of us that want the best from an organic garden. In the olden days when I was a kid about four or five years old, my siblings and I worked with our parents using shovels, hoes, and rakes, to dig to cultivate our gardens. We were a working team, and it was enjoyable. Dad would say “Okay, today we are going to play a game and it’s called ‘dig the garden’.” I can’t remember how large the plot was, maybe 80-feet by 40-feet. We planted potatoes, and all kinds of vegetables. It was tough. Dad would dig the sod and us kids would beat and shake out the sod and save the worms for fishing. Well anyway, in those days you just add some manure to the soil from cows, sheep, pigs, chickens. Whatever grass and grain fed farm animals you had around and the gardens grew great as long as you received the proper amount of rain. The manure was spread in the fall or early spring and turned under as you worked the soil, preferably several weeks prior to planting. There wasn’t any need in those days to add other amenities because the proof was in the pudding, the plants looked and tasted good, and filled the void. What more could you ask for? Well okay, that’s good, but let’s put things in a little better perspective. In those days you weren’t all that close to town or a city that supplied amenities for the soil. They were known, and people then were just as smart then as now, but small farmers just were not going to add amenities unless maybe it was lime. “The proof is in the pudding.”
There is a better way
Test the soil. Get a soil test kit and follow the directions. Be sure to use clean tools and bucket for taking the samples. You may use Clorox and water to sterilize your tools and bucket. A couple of bottle caps to about one-third water in your bucket. Wash thoroughly. Wear rubber gloves for protection. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. I like to use my trowel and scrape off the top half-inch of soil, then dig down approximately three inches. You will do this in evenly spaced spots in your garden. With all the trowel spots in your bucket, thoroughly mix them all together. You have a box that came with the kit, and you now can fill this and send it in to be analyzed. In approximately two to six weeks depending when you take the sample, you can expect your results to come back. There will be lots of valuable information on your returned report. Be sure you understand this report and follow their recommendations as closely as you can.