Bountiful Garden

Tomatoes!  From plants bought at the Ashland Garden Club Plant Sale in May. Garden Bounty

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5 W’s for Fertilizing

                                                                    Article by Kelly Brainard, Owner Ashland Greenhouse

“There are always so many questions about fertilizing.  I would like to go over some of the basics, especially since early spring can be a key time for taking care of fertilizing needs. Always ask yourself:
The type of plant you are focusing on (perennials, annuals, vegetables, ect).
What type of fertilizer to use based on season and the plant(s) you’re fertilizing.
When do you apply fertilizer?  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?
Where is the best place to apply fertilizers?  Topically or to the root zone?
Why is this necessary?  What are the benefits of fertilizing?

Since we could write a book on everything mentioned above let’s keep it brief and relevant to what we should focus on in early spring.  This is a great time of year to focus on perennials.  Most perennials prefer a well-balanced or all-purpose fertilizer (all three numbers on the packaging are identical, i.e. 3-3-3 or 16-16-16).  Perennials fed in early spring develop strong root systems which in turn produces larger, healthier plants.  Apply granular fertilizers to the soil around the root zone.

For annuals that are tough enough to be outside early and continue blooming throughout the summer, like petunias and verbena, apply well balanced or slightly higher nitrogen fertilizers. This gives them an extra boost, encouraging growth.  You can successfully use either a granular or foliar fertilizer.  Foliar fertilizers tend to react faster than granules since they are taken up by the plant through the leaves but need re-application more often.  For annuals I like to use granular fertilizer applications in the spring and start using weekly or biweekly applications of liquid fertilizer in the summer. Remember as a rule of thumb – ALWAYS apply fertilizers in the morning. It is less stressful for the plants.

Vegetables are a completely different beast when it comes to fertilizing.  There are numerous techniques when it comes to fertilizing your vegetables.  If it’s grown for leafy greens then apply fertilizers heavier in nitrogen. If it’s grown for the fruit apply fertilizers heavier in phosphorous.  Nitrogen promotes healthy, green foliage and too much of it can discourage fruit development while phosphorous promotes bud and flower growth which encourages more fruit.

When in doubt about fertilizing don’t hesitate to ask a fellow gardener. Some of the best advice is the advice that we share with each other!”

Source: http://AshlandGreenhouses_April2014Newsletter

Cool-Season Crops

Get a head start gardening in western Oregon with cool-season crops:

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Is this dry winter making you anxious to dig in the dirt again? There’s some good news if you garden in western Oregon and are an optimist.

Cool-season plants can be directly seeded into the ground in March in the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon , said Bob Reynolds, the Master Gardener coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Cool-season crops include peas, arugula, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, chard, turnips and lettuce.

Reynolds said he’s getting questions from the public already about when to start planting and how to tell when soil is ready.

“It depends on how experienced they are and how long they’ve lived here,” Reynolds said. “If they’ve lived here long, then they know a week of 60-degree days doesn’t mean spring is here. You may be anxious, but you hold yourself back.”

Reynolds recommends using a soil thermometer to check your soil temperature to decide whether to dig in. Soil rather than air temperature is the bellwether of whether to plant, he said. Seeds such as peas will germinate at an average soil temperature of about 50 degrees. Each species has different temperature requirements for germination. Generally, cool-season plants can survive air temperatures as cold as 28 degrees, Reynolds said.

Cover the new plantings with clear plastic to protect the soil from getting too saturated by rain.

Snow provides a nice incubator for new plants, acting as a blanket to keep the coldest air from penetrating, Reynolds said.

You can start hand weeding any time. Wait until plants have established themselves before fertilizing them.

As for gardeners in central and eastern Oregon , they’re going to have to be patient. Direct seeding for cool-season crops is not possible until late April or May, said Amy Jo Detweiler, an Extension horticulturist in Redmond . Seedlings can be transplanted in May and June.

“We tell people that March is a good time to clean and sharpen your garden tools and take care of your houseplants,” Detweiler said.

March is also a good time for high-desert gardeners to study seed catalogs and prepare seed tapes. Seed tapes are good for plants that require thinning, such as radishes. To make a seed tape, cut a 2- to 3- inch strip the length of a newspaper or use tissue paper strips, 2-3 inches wide and however long you need it, Detweiler said.

When it’s time to plant, bury the seed tapes in the soil at the seed appropriate depth and the tissue paper or newspaper will break down into the soil, Detweiler said.

By Denise Ruttan, Oregon State Extension
Source: Bob Reynolds, OSU & Amy Jo Detweiler, OSU
This article is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_Gardening2236

FEBRUARY: Getting the Greenhouse Ready

It’s time to get your greenhouse ready for planting! Carlotta's  Little Greenhouse

Start with cleaning the shelves using 1 part bleach mixed with 9 parts water.
Read eHow for tips on cleaning a small greenhouse:
http://www.ehow.com/small-greenhouse_care.html

Sterilize your trays & pots with this same bleach solution. Purchase or make your seedling mix (which is a soil-less mix), gather your plant labels & permanent markers and you’re ready to plant.

Read how to make your own soil-less seedling mix Organic Gardening website: http://organicgardening.about./seedstartingmix.htm

To calculate greenhouse planting start dates, check each seed packet and plant according to the instructions. Count back the weeks needed for seeds to grow and when you want them really for the garden club’s plant sale or to plant in your garden after the last frost.  Seeds typically need 8-12 weeks to grow. For example: AGC’s plant sale is May 11 2013, 12 weeks back from May 11th is February 16th, 8 weeks back is March 16th . Check your seed packets for start dates.

Below is a list of flowers you can start in your greenhouse in February: Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia, Lupine, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Salvia, Lavender, Scabies, Delphinium, Pansies, Shasta daisy, Forget-me-nots, Gaillardias, and Nasturtiums.

You can also start: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Lettuce, Cilantro and Spinach seeds. It is recommended for larger vegetable seeds, like beets, to soak them 12 to 24 hours before planting.

To begin: fill your sterilized trays with seedling mix, water the seedling mix thoroughly, and then let them sit until the next day to warm up.  On day two, plant your seeds, mark your trays/pots, then water them in.

Seeds need warmth to germinate. Check out Heirloom Seeds’ website showing seed germination/soil temperatures:
http://www.heirloomseeds.com/germination.html

You can provide warmth with heating mats (available at garden supply stores) which sit under your seed trays or you can warm your greenhouse with a portable heater.

Some seeds also need light to germinate, so place trays a few inches below a grow light or a florescent light, and keep the lights on 24 hours a day.

After the plants have developed several sets of true leaves, transplant them into sterilized pots with a good garden variety potting soil.  To avoid transplant shock water them in with a B1 solution; B1 is available at garden stores. Once plants are established in their new pots, fertilize them once a week with a 1/4-strength water-soluble fertilizer. During the rest of the time use plain water; keep the seedlings moist, but not wet. Keep plants under the lights, keep them warm and watch them grow!

By: Carlotta Lucas & Melody Jones