Friday, February 26, 2010

The Bruce and Betty show on 1061 w/ Paige Mattson: Gardening


This spring is going to be in full bloom before you know it! (Thank the heavens, right?!) I know I am feeling like one of those tightly closed buds just waiting for enough warm days and sunshine to bloom brighter than ever. So it's time to PLAN, then PLANT, then GROW your garden.

1- Preparing the soil:

I love to use the compost from my bin (though this year I moved into a smaller place with no room for an outside bin. Therefore, I'm not going to have as much need of compost because my gardening needs will be confined to pots and containers this year. I may just do smaller batches using a bin that can fit on the countertop or under the sink nicely). Composting can be done in a bin or if you have a big enough yard can be as simple as a pile covered with kitchen wire. The other essential ingredient is Panorama Pay Dirt from Steve Murray's booming business out in the county. Last year I found it at Southern States.

2- Seed selection:

Paige tells us it's time to start NOW if you plan on using seedlings. I need to confess that I may be better world Betty, but my thumb could stand getting greener for sure!! Two years running I've tried to start my seeds indoors with an embarassingly dismal success rate of about one plant out of every 30 seeds I plant. YIKES. I have had more success with starting herbs from seeds indoors - so I'll try that this year. I love Southern Seed Exchange - available at I.Y. (Integral Yoga) and I've even seen those at Whole Foods from time to time, who is carrying more and more local produce and other items.

3- Planting and Growing:

I recommend a LASAGNA GARDEN (pictured above). This is an ultra-cool way to garden and it's SO easy. First layer is newspaper (or thin cardboard, though I've never tried it so can't vouch for it) laid directly on top of the grass (or even weeds), then wet it down a bit. This is a 'brown' layer and now you want a 'green' layer: compost, coffee grounds, tea leaves/bags, fruit and veggie scraps, grass clippings, pay dirt. And then add another layer of newspaper or junk mail clippings or dry leaves and then another layer of 'green.' Top it off with pay dirt, plant your seedlings (after the threat of frost is over - around Mother's Day) and surround with some mulch.

The great advantage to lasagna garden is that you have:

- fewer weeds
- better water retention ( so it really cuts down on the water use)
- no back-wrenching digging (especially is this famous red clay of Virginia)

Now even if you don't have room for a big garden, you can opt for a patio garden using pots and large containers for herbs and tomatoes - consider a salsa garden. A pot of tomato, a pot of your favorite spicy hot pepper, and green pepper, and cilantro (I have to again confess that my cilantro has always gone to seed before I get a decent crop).

A word about deer and other varmints: the trick we have used is saving my boys' hair cut clippings and we hung it in bags around the garden (as well as urging them to pee around it -- Hey! I have two boys under the age of 10, what do you expect?)

Need more help? The barefoot gardener is part of a fundraising event at the Haven on Sunday, Feb 28th at 4pm (first and market) - he'll help you get started. Seeds, t-shirts, good people will abound.

Side note on mulch: the Ivy Muc facility has MULCH, aka organic vegetative material that is decent and economical (and not treated with nasty dyes and chemicals like some of the commercial brands) and for a fee you can have it delivered. I say decent because it's not thick - not the perty, fine chopped, dark kind. It's good for large areas.

Happy Gardening, from Betty and Bruce and Paige!

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