Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fall Planting! Tips from the garden...

"What're you doing, Mommy?" my three-year-old daughter asked, finding me sifting through seed packs in the hallway.

"Getting ready to plant fall veggies."

"Can I help?"

"Yes! We'll plant them tomorrow." Both of us smiled in rapture. My girl loves planting as much as I do.

I picked out spinach, carrots, peas, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, mache (aka corn salad), and chard. We already planted some seeds in a cleared bed - mostly mustard greens and beets - but since they haven't germinated I'm going to do the paper towel technique with this next planting. Put your seeds - just as much as you want to plant or slightly more if your seeds are a few years old - between a fold of damp paper towel and put into a plastic bag. Keep checking them and in a few days they will have germinated. Then carefully transplant to the garden (you can do this in summer because the soil is not freezing) into soil amended with compost (a tweezers works well for this task, picking up teeny rooting seeds and plopping them in the soil). Our compost is very high in nitrogen because of all the beautiful chicken poo we've been blessed with this year.

On a side note, if you have chickens or plan to, I highly recommend putting your compost in a shady area and either doing it as a simple pile as I do or in an open cage that is accessable from one side. It is our chickens' favorite hang out: cool, buggy, and speckled with little kitchen scraps. They turn the compost for us as they scratch and they poop all over the pile, adding nitrogen. We also toss all the cleanings from their run and coop on the pile and turn it in. Their poop is so high in nitrogen that a once a week cleaning of the chicken area yeilds a perfect balance of carbon (wood shavings) to nitrogen (manure). The compost breaks down very quickly and we can use it on the garden in a month or so. I have not had any problem "burning" my plants with manure that has not broken down enough with this technique even though it hasn't been composting long.

Anyway - tomorrow we will cover the beds with compost, weed, and get everything ready for seeds. We'll put some seeds in right away - carrot, parsley, peas (which I will soak tonight) - and others in a few days after they have germinated in their paper towel blankies.

Whee! So much fun.

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