Friday, July 29, 2011

Preparing for planting season

What to do in August

The month of August is the last month of winter and is more windy than most other months. On the up side, the days have been getting longer since mid June. The temperatures are steadily rising as we approach summer which means we can prepare for spring planting.

What preparations should be done?

Firstly vegetable beds, can be prepared with a bucket of compost per square metre and other ingredients can be added to feed the soil. This will increase your soil life this should be worked in to the top 20cm of soil. Healthy soil equals health plants and will reduce pests. Ingredients that are beneficial to add are slow release and will have a long-effect. Soil life is responsible for breaking down the natural ingredients and making it available to plants.

Volcanic rock dust has many minerals associate with feeding micro-organisms, as well as rock phosphate. Both of these when broken down is extremely essential for healthy plant growth. Rock phosphate is a macro nutrient (Phosphorus P). Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are also macros, and can also be added. Potassium is in a concentrated form in wood ash. An excellent source of nitrogen can be found in aged horse and cow manures. Using pelleted chicken manure makes is extremely easy to add. Bone meal adds calcium and phosphorus and lime lowers the pH and adds calcium and possibly magnesium as well depending on lime type used.

PS. beware that "just adding any amount" of any of the above can be detrimental so ensure you know what you are doing. A good way to know what to add is to get the soil tested and follow the advice report.

Plant seeds in trays, starting them off indoors, they will take about two weeks to germinate, then allow them to grow indoors for another week. Timing is perfect because by then the last average frost date should have pasted. After the last average frost date, the newly emerged seedlings can be moved out doors, but you should introduce them over a period of a week to allow them to adapt to the climatic conditions, by increasing the time they spend outside each day.

Now you can start adding extremely small doses, every second time you water (start at 1/16th of recipe increasing towards ¼ strength) of kelp extract to their water, which will assist, in strengthening the seedling getting it ready for planting out in to the garden. You also need to reduce watering from three times a day down to once every two days.

When you plant your seedlings out, it is an excellent idea to water the hole first to ensure the roots are stimulated to grow down to depths where they are protected from the effects of the sun drying the soil during the heat of the day. Remember to water start watering them twice daily from the first day in the ground, and gradually decrease to twice weekly over the first two weeks.

After two weeks, you can start feeding the plants again if you want to increase their performance. Start off with quarter strength dilution and increase dosages slowly over the next two months, feeding schedule of every two weeks. Beware, when you feed your plants, you are encouraging pests to visit, and join in on the feast.

Things to plant in trays and pots for planting season are:

Aubergine, Canteloupe, Cucumbers, Peppers(sweet & hot), Tomato.

Artichoke(small pots) Broccoli, Cabbage, Celeriac, Celery, Leeks, Marrows(small pots), Potato, Salsify, Sweet peas, Spinach (Swiss chard and bright lights), Squash(small pots), Sweet corn, Sweet potato, Zucchini - babymarrow(small pots).

Dill, Fennel, Lettuce, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Sweet basil.

See next article for what you can plant in the ground in September.