Taking Root #39

Think Gardening! It’s Time!

By Gini Bramlett

It’s time to start thinking about preparing your garden for planting. It’s not too early to plant some things out about now. I’ve already planted peas, and have lettuce starts and spinach seeds almost ready to go into the ground.

I’ve been doing a little research on how much manure, compost, lime and other nutrients I should be giving my garden beds this year. This can change from year to year depending on what was planted there last year, what you plant this year, as well as how much leaching took place and how long it’s been since you’ve added lime to keep the PH in the desirable range.

Having raised beds makes this a bit easier since I can simply plant heavy feeders together in one bed, medium in another and so on, then fertilize accordingly. Contrary to what most of us tend to do, it is not always necessary to give all your beds a lot of compost/manure every year.

This is important to know because not only does under fertilizing heavy feeders produce weak, poorly developed disease-prone veggies, but light feeders will do poorly if over fertilized; Examples are carrots and potatoes which will become misshapen and sometimes even inedible with too much fertilizer.

The first step is testing your soil if you think it needs it. If you haven’t done this for some time, or have had a downturn in production quality, it’s probably safe to say that it’s time. No need to spend a lot of money on testing. I bought a pretty decent quality test kit a few years ago that works just fine and gives good results in a shorter time frame than sending it out to a lab.

I’d like to share a list of some basic garden veggies and where they fall in their feeding needs. I hope it helps give you a more productive veggie garden this year:

Heavy Feeders: celery, melons, tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, eggplant and squash. Heavy feeders have voracious appetites, and require the biggest portion of the natural fertilizers that you have available. Not only do they need to be planted in a rich bed, but could use at least one, if not two side dressings throughout the growing season.

Moderate Feeders: broccoli, chives, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, parsley and lettuce. Moderate feeders need an initial good start by spreading a generous layer of compost and manure, but after that, no need of side dressings for the rest of the growing season. Just leave the plants alone, pull whatever weeds sneak in and harvest when needed to keep production up.

Light Feeders: beets, onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, radishes, leeks and turnips. Light feeders are undemanding and will grow in most soft fertile soils.

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