Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time to Begin Gardening

We are fast approaching March and it is time to get gardening.  I have been out to the garden beds and the ground is still a bit frozen.  There have been frosts at night lately even though the temperature has reached the 50's during the day.

I have been pulling small weeds that have popped up when I can get them.  My plan is to add some supplements like lime (I live in an acid soil area because of all the pine trees), compost and rock dust.  If you have not used rock dust I suggest you look it up and consider it as and inexpensive soil additive.  Basically rock dust is river/mountain rocks ground up into small enough particles that plants can absorb the minerals found naturally. I will be adding some organic fertilizer but will do that closer to planting time.

This year I would like to add more cloches to my garden boxes.  I do this by using pvc pipe that is cut into lengths and slipped over stakes forming hoops.  Plastic is fit over the hoops creating mini green houses.  When the weather is warmer I remove the plastic and in some beds add screen to keep the deer away.  Three garden beds have clouches now from last summer and they worked really well.  Keep in mind what you plan on planting because you will have to adjust the height of the pvc hoops so they are tall enough to accommodate the  plants.  I used them for strawberries last year so the height was not a problem.  I did use one on a bed that I stuck a couple of broccoli plants in last minute and the broccoli plants became higher than the pipe and I had to remove the screening.  Lesson learned!

Pvc is very inexpensive and easy to cut.  I found pieces of rebar pounded into the ground made the best and most sturdy stakes.  The pvc fits right over it.  This year I want to find a better solution to clipping the plastic or screen/netting over the pvc.  Last year I tried metal office type clips and they sometimes worked themselves loose and became flying projectiles.  I tried clothes pins and that was ok but a bit messy looking.  I finally used plastic ties from the hardware store on the top to secure the screen/netting then held it down on the bottom with rocks.  This way the netting stayed in place and I could loosen it from the bottom to work in the bed.  I would like to find some inexpensive way to clip over the pvc and would like to know if any of you have any frugal ideas.  You know me.  I don't want to spend anything extra if I can use something around the house that I already have.

I did find a few pieces of pvc at a yard sale last year so I have some ready to use.  I just get out the circular saw or a jig saw, even a hand saw and cut the pvc.  If you know the lengths you want when you go to the hardware store they will cut it there for you!  I put the stakes on the inside of the box when I can simply so I don't trip over them in the pathways.  Depending on the width of the boxes you might have to put them outside the box.

I also want to put up the plastic really soon so that the ground will warm up and I will be able to plant earlier.  The earlier I can plant the earlier I will have produce on the table and produce ready to do the can can with.

Let me know what you are doing to get your garden ready.


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