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Posts Tagged ‘backyard gardening’

SeedlingsUnlike planting seeds indoors, planting seeds outdoors is super easy, and it’s much cheaper than buying seedlings.  Peas, beans, radishes, carrots, corn, parsnips, turnips, spinach, squash, lettuce, other greens, and cucumbers are all great candidates for direct seed sowing.  But it’s barely April, you say, why are we addressing direct seeding now?  Don’t we have to wait until all danger of frost is past?  (Because you know we will be getting one of those nasty spring snow storms this month.)  (In fact, it’s snowing as I publish this post.)  Lots of these guys will grow from seeds planted directly into the ground even if you think it’s way too cold out to plant anything.  If you can dig into the soil, usually there is a seed that wants to grow there.

Supplies list:

  • Seeds—the backs of your seed packets will tell you which plants can be sown directly into the garden, vs. those that need to be started indoors.  (By the way—lookie what was in my Inbox this week—buy 2 get 1 free seeds at Echter’s!)
  • Plant tags—you can find little plastic tags any place that sells seeds, or get creative!  Anything that you can write on that won’t disintegrate when wet can mark plants!  Small flat rocks?  Sure.  Paint stirrers?  Yup.  Get creative.  I found a great post on making plant tags from a material which everyone has too much of lying around the house (don’t we?): DIY Plant Markers.
  • A permanent black marker to write on your plant tags.  I have used blue and purple Sharpies in the past—not recommended.  In time, they fade in the sun.  Even better, you can buy UV resistant permanent markers at most nurseries (they are right next to the plant tags).
  • A ruler or tape measure.
  • A hose long enough to reach your vegetable beds.  Even if you have irrigation installed, you will probably want to get out there and douse your little babies yourself in the beginning.
  • A nozzle for your hose with a shower setting or a garden wand.
Nozzle

Notice this nozzle has several different spray patterns. Use the one called Shower for watering your seedlings in the garden.

Water Wand

A water or garden wand is longer to make it easy to reach into gardens or to water hanging baskets. These either come set to send out a shower of water, or the are available with different patterns.

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This post is dedicated to Ghost, the Garden Cat.  He was always my helper in the garden, but he particularly liked to get in the way during this stage of the game.

You’ll want to wait and do this after the ground has thawed.

Vegetables need good, rich soil to grow well.  Most Colorado soil is very dense and full of clay—it will need to be amended with some good stuff to make your plants are happy.  Check out the soil in your planned garden area—dig down a foot or so.  CAN you dig down a foot or so?  If not, you definitely need soil amendment—I’d double the numbers listed below.  Any earth worms in there?  If so, congrats!  Earth worms are our friends!  Your soil is probably in pretty good shape.  You can buy a soil testing kit if you want to know exactly how good your soil is, what’s in it, what the Ph level is, etc., but that’s all a bit too scientific for me.  I’d rather just get in there and start digging.

Soil Amendment Ingredients

Ingredients needed for soil amendment: Soil Pep, Vermiculite (optional), Fertilizer, and Compost (not shown)

Shopping List:

  • Compost:  Any kind of compost is fine, but I suggest mixing a few kinds together.  You can also add a bag or two of manure into this mix.  Whatever kind you use, mix them together in a wheel barrow before spreading it.  I suggest using about one bag per 25 square feet.
  • Soil Pep:  I am a huge believer in Soil Pep—it’s kind of a mix of bark and other decomposable natural stuff, but it’s not compost.  It does a great job in breaking up tough soil and keeping it light and loose.  You can find it at pretty much any garden center or nursery, but I haven’t seen it at a big box store.  One bag is usually good for about 50 square feet.  Added garden nerd bonus:  the Soil Pep you use in your garden this year will break down before next year and further amend the soil!  Woohoo!  And look what I just got in my email box this morning–a SP coupon!
  • Fertilizer:  There are lots of fertilizers out there, but I use one called Colorado’s Own Vegetable Food—it’s good for all kinds of veggies.  It’s in a orange bag, and the numbers on the bottom are 5-10-5 (sorry I don’t have a photo yet).  Go to Echter’s for this.  (If you haven’t been to Mecca—I mean Echter’s—yet, go.  Just go.  I apologize now for the damage it will do to your check book.  (I am sure that will be the subject of a future post.))  One bag of fertilizer should be enough, unless you have a huge plot you are planting.  It should say on the bag how big of an area it will cover.  Extra is not bad here—you will use more later in the season. (more…)

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