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Planning Your Garden #4: Make Your Beds


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One of my goals this year is filling my freezer and pantry with good foods that have been grown and nurtured in our own backyard. Over the years I’ve learned a number of great tips from books, friends, and my own experiences so it seems only fitting that I would share those things here with you.

This final week we’re discussing preparing your beds.

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If you only fed your children bread and water how well do you think they would grow?  Probably not much huh?  Like your children, your plants needs more than soil and water.  The number one key to a fruitful harvest is feeding it! 

We could discuss the various nutrients and how to use them for years.  I do not have that kind of time and I’m guessing neither do you so here are the basic things to keep in mind.

 

N-P-K

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, N-P-K, consider these three compounds the holy trinity to fertilizing your garden and yard. 

Nitrogen

  • Aids in healthy growth of leaves and stems. 
  • Both plants and other matter in the soil use nitrogen, so it has to be added repeatedly throughout the growing season.
  • This nutrient is water soluble so in addition to being used quickly it can also wash away.
  • If you have too much you’ll have luscious plants with no fruit.

Phosphorus

  • Aids the healthy growth of roots and flower production.
  • Bulbs and root crops need repeated feedings of phosphorus throughout the season.

Potassium

  • Aids in overall healthy growth of the plant.
  • This nutrient is water soluble and needs to be replenished often.

Determining the correct amount of each nutrient needed for your garden is never an exact science.  Take in to consideration your location, soil type, and what you will be planting.

To feed my garden I use liquid Miracle-Gro as well as these natural amendments.

 

Natural Amendments

1. Egg Shells:  It really goes without saying, they’re full of calcium, which is great for your tomato plants.  Crush until fine and put in the ground before planting your tomatoes.  Egg shells also help as a pest deterrent.021

2. Banana Peels: Hello potassium! Get out your food processor and go to town!  Mix into the soil around plants at any time.

3. Coffee Grounds:  If you’re a coffee drinker this will come as no surprise to you, coffee grounds are very acidic.  So besides blending well with the soil it also adds nutrients, prevents mildew and deters some garden pests.017

4. Epsom Salts:  The easiest and cheapest fertilizer out there.  Epsom Salt is magnesium and sulfur, two important ingredients to healthy plants.  The package has tons of tips on how and where to use it in your garden.

5. Compost:  If you’re not composting I recommend you start.  Between the straw from the chicken houses to the leaves from the yard our compost has helped loosen our clay soil.  Keep in mind, decomposing leaves and lawn clippings use up a lot of nitrogen.  We also add table scraps to our compost, making sure there are NO meat products, or dairy items that could cause mold and ickiness.  If it’s clean and nature it goes in the bowl, including nut shells and tea bags.

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Soil Type

There are three main types of soil that we need to know about clay, sand, and loam.  Loam is the cream of the crop, both rich in nutrients and it has good drainage.  Here is a link to learn about easy ways to test your soil.

As I pointed out before, our clay heavy soil benefits from humus, plus it makes it much easier to work with.

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While there is so much more I know I missed I do hope that this series has sparked or rekindled your interest in gardening!  Sharing with you has kept me moving towards my own goals and for that I’m thankful!

Anyone want to help me pull weeds?

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Erin Sipes
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