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Fall Is Time For Cover Crop Planting

Well guys, it’s Fall again, and you know what that means (unless you live in a sun-belt state like Florida or Arizona). Fall means cooler temperatures, especially at night. Here in Colorado we’ve already have several nights where temps dipped below freezing, although many of the days have been in the warm 70s and 80s.

The advent of Fall also means it’s the time of the year for those Fall cover crops that add vital organic matter and nutrients to the soil, while at the same time keeping the nutrients that are already there from leeching away during the Winter months. One of the best crops for this type of cover gardening is cereal rye, which is also referred to as winter rye for this very reason.

The cover crops work hand-in-hand with your compost bed, in a rotating cycle throughout the year. When your summer garden crops are finished for the season, save all the remains, including garden residue and weeds, and add them to your compost bed. Then in the Fall, the finished compost from the previous season is taken and spread over your garden bed before you plant your cover crops.

Then the remains of your cover crop will be added to your compost bed in the Spring, and the cycle continues from season to season. A good crop to plant after the compost has been removed is rye, which is great at absorbing stray nutrients that have been left in the soil, then plant corn after the rye.

If you’ve never planted a cover crop you’ll be amazed at the results. It allows you to have a low-maintenance garden during the Winter that’s working to replenish your soil, and lock in vital nutrients that will supercharge your vegetable garden come Spring.



Sustainable Garden Or “Smelly Eyesore?”...

The following story came across the newswire the other day, and I had to do a double-take on the headline. Apparenly some folks in the town of Surrey, British Columbia, are objecting to a sustainable garden that a young couple have installed on their property.

The couple are using a technique known as permaculture in their garden, which requires very minimal watering, weeding or fertilizer. A true sustainable garden, in other words.

They have expectations of eventually being able to produce over ninety-percent of their food needs with the garden, by harvesting the vegetables that the couple uses to make all of their food from scratch.

But apparently some of the neighbors aren’t so happy about the idea, and the Surrey local law enforcement officer has evoked a seldom-used bylaw to claim the garden is “unsightly”. Some of the neighbors are even the afraid the garden will attract flies and rats, and “smell up” the neighborhood.

You can read the full story here



Organic Gardening

file8451253073336 (1)If you’re new to organic gardening, you might be confused as to what makes it different from other, more “traditional” forms of gardening. In simple terms, organic gardening is the act of growing fruits, vegetables and other plants without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

This is an oversimplification, of course, and growing plants organically is a process of viewing your garden as an organic ecosystem all its own. This system begins with the rich soil or other growing medium that the plant inhabits, and also includes the water, sunlight, air, and even insects that share this space. The garden can be in an open plot of land, a greenhouse, or even containers as container gardening is becoming more and more popular, especially in the city.

An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with this natural ecosystem, and he or she is a short of shepherd who tends to the plants and is constantly replenishing the resources that the garden consumes. The gardener also engages in careful soil building, seeding and breeding, pruning, pest management, composting, and more.


Planting Tips

Tip:  Make a good bed for your plants.  A couple of weeks before you’re ready to actually plant, and after the soil has dried out to the point where it doesn’t clump in your hand, you can start preparing your bed. First get a good rank and turn up the soil about a foot deep, and then add a one inch layer of compost over the top. Then wait and watch for any weeds that appear in the coming days, and pull them out immediately. With luck you’ll remove most of the weeds and weed seeds before you plant your garden.

Tip:   To furrow in straight lines – or not.  There’s really no hard and fast rule about furrowing your garden, and planting in straight rows. Many people like the look of their vegetables and other plants arranged in neat rows, but others don’t. One option is to plant along a grid pattern, with one plant at the intersection of each square.


Tips on handling Weeds

Tip:  Make sure to mulch. Mulch is a great way of covering exposed soil, and keeping light from reaching those pesky weed seeds. Your mulch can consist of shredded and crumpled leaves, dried grass clippings, straw, even bark. Spread it evenly, a couple of inches deep. An added bonus of the mulch is that it decomposes over time, and adds vital nutrients to the soil.

Tip:  Use the sun.  If you’re having persistent weed problems, and you’ve tried almost everything, you might want to try solarizing. This technique works best with a new bed that hasn’t been planted, but you can use anytime there’s a hot sun, as in the late spring and summer months. First turn up the soil and rake out all the weeds that you can, then wet things down. Cover the areas you want to treat with a think layer of clear plastic, and secure the corners and edges. The plastic will serve as a sort of greenhouse, and bake off any weeds and weed seeds.


Tips for dealing with harmful insects

Tip: Encourage predators in your garden. That is predators who dine on pesky insects, the ones that can wreak havoc on your plants if you’re not careful. One way to do this is mix in flowers and herbs among your vegetables. These plant will draw in predatory insects like ladybugs or lacewings, which are hungry predators that dine on moth eggs, aphids, caterpillars, mites and more. Other beneficial predators include lizards, toads, and even garter snakes.

Tip: Make sure your plants are healthy. The strong survive in nature, and insects go after sick or weak plants. So your best defense is usually to choose hardy plants that are well suited to the climate and conditions, and keep them healthy. And try not to let your plants get too dry, too wet, or too shaded for long periods of time.