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Building Your Soil
Soil management is one of the most important aspect of your gardening tools. If your soil is healthy, your plants will benefit tremendously from it. Some plants do require different alkaline and acidity levels but ALL plants require micorbial life for health and vibrance. Soil amending and bio-diversity is the best way to ensure a happy healthy garden.
Clay base Lightly squeeze a handful of your soil.Clay based soils are very compact and stick together when moist.This clumping action can prevent moisture and air that allow the plant to reach optimal growth. Clay based soils are easily amended with organic material. Distribute it liberally and dig it in. Optionally you may wish to add more organic material to the surface of the beds, around the plants,about midway through the growing season. The newly formed roots will appreciate the shelter, air and moisture and new nutrients provided in a second application.
Sand base

If your soil feels gritty and slides through your hand easily when dry it is sand based. Sandy soil even when wet, will not stick together as it lacks clay and organic materials. Sandy soil alos drains very easily, this drainage also drains away much needed nutrients and microbes from the plants roots required for a healthy garden.

Amending your sandy soil is required for optimum plant production. Adding organic compost (4 to 6 inches for best results) is a sure fix for this type of soil. Your sandy soil will need to be amended every year. You may also wish to add composted material to each hole you dig before setting in the plant or seedling. This will ensure a longer more nutrient filled start to the plants life. This technique can be used as an alternative to amending the entire garden if an abundance of composted material is not available to you. Cover crops(to be tilled in) are also a wonderful way to add to your soils microbial life.

 

Silty  
Lacking Nitrogen Add green manure can be added to your garden but should be added one year before you plant. Cover crops that are cold hardy such as vetch winter rye. Plant in bare garden areas in fall and till in in the Spring
 
Organic Pest Control

Companion Planting

(chart below)

Companion planting is the knowledge of placing certain plants that deter bad bugs, encourage predator bugs and birds or mask plant scents from harmful pests that can destroy your garden and hard work.It is also the practice of planting certain plants close to one another as they will assist in their growth and over all health. Adhering to a companion planting program is an extrememly beneficial way to protect your plants. Few companion plants are:
Onions, Dill, Fennel, Asparagus, Marigold, Carrots, Comfrey, Tomatoes and Geraniums. (a more in depth list of what is beneficial and to which plant is forth coming)
Crop rotation Also know that crop rotation ( which is what we use extensively)can limit pest and poor production issues.We never plant any of our crops in the same location as they were the year prior.  By rotating crops you allow the soil to rebuild the nutrients that the previous crop used up.  For example: plant peas in one spot in your garden bed this year, peas fix nitrogen into the soil, and that is  then  a great spot to plant corn or lettuce the next year as these plants are heavy nitrogen feeders, then the following year plant a root crop like carrots or beets  in that same area.  This practice will ensure healthier and more abundant crops for you  to enjoy.
 

 

Bio-diversity Have you ever seen Mothernature create a monocrop anywhere in nature? No? Well there is a reason for that.

Biodiversity is key to a healthy garden, and when Brother Nature was collecting tools for his garden, diversity was first on her list.

Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem. Meaning each life form has its own specific relationship with the ecosystem in your garden. All the life forms work together as a group to encourages a natural form of pest or disease control, and each adds its own ingrediant back into the soil when its lifecycle is complete. Some plants attract predator bugs, others repel them. Some plants provide extra nitrogen, some take it away. So the message here is to keep a variety of plants in your garden. Overplanting only your favorites may in time prove to make your garden a less attractive place for you and more attractive place for garden pests.
Carrot Fly problem The life cycle of a Carrot fly …Adults emerge in Mid April to May, laying eggs in soil near existing plants. The larvae then burrow into roots for 3 to 4 weeks, and then pupate. They do this 2 to 3 times a year. The only way to get rid of that problem is to apply floating row covers to the soil beds (bury in the edges) before the carrot seedlings emerges and leave the cover on until harvest is over. Floating row covers are made of tightly woven cloth and designed to lay loosely over plants to exclude insects. It is best to suport the row covers with metal hoops to keep them from contacting the plants. Applying beneficial nematodes (a beneficial garden insect) that will eat the carrot fly larvae is also a good idea.
White fly Females lay eggs on the UNDER side of the leaves. These hatch in about 2 days into tiny mobile scales. While continuing to feed  on plant juices scales molt  to legless stage in a few days. After several growing stages nymphs rest in a sort of pupae stage before emerging as adults.

Catch adults on yellow sticky traps, and gently vacuum adults from leaves.

Insecticidal soaps we have found that work are kinoprene (Enstar) or better yet make your own a garlic/onion and cayenne oil spray.

Chop, grind or liquefy 1 garlic bulb and 1 small onion. Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and mix with one quart of water. Steep for 1 hour, strain through a cheese cloth and add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Spray your plants thoroughly, being sure to cover the underside of the leaves This mixture can only be stored in the fridge for about 1 week . Be sure to wear gloves and avoid contact with eyes and nose while employing this method as it may cause a painful burning sensation to your skin

It is believed that the Shoofly plant got its name because of its ability to scare off flies when its flower has turned to seed pod. The seed pods resemble hornet and wasp nests that most flies are naturally programmed to avoid.

 
Water Saving
Water Saving Techniques

Watering your garden is important. But water conservation is also a a big concern for many gardeners. A great water saving technique that will ensure your plant roots receive the water you supply for them is a timed slow drip irrigation system. A slow drip irrigation system ensures deep root watering and greatly assists the water reaches the plants roots by keeping the water on the ground and not on the leaves, fruits and flowers of your plants.( Excessive water on the plants from overhead watering can lead to unwanted mildew and other water related issues that deter from the health of your garden.) It may not at first seem cost effective to use this technique, but I am sure you will find a difference in your water bill and the overall health of your garden and its production capabilities.

Applying a timer (there are battery operated and power supply available) to your irrigation system will ensure that your plants get the water they need on a consistent basis.This practice allows you to easily water early in the morning and leaves you time for other garden duties.

Rain barrels are also a great way to conserve water. There are many types available, with and without spigots. Using the rain water from the barrels will lessen your water bill and allow your plants the pleasure of being watered with untreated water. (Be sure to place a screen over your barrel to keep out any unwanted garden pests.)

Water your plants in the morning. This is best as afternoon sun will dry up most of the water before your plants have a chance to use it. Avoid watering at night as cool tempratures coupled with water encourage mildew. Watering in the morning is also a good deterant for slugs. If you water at night slugs have a moist path right to your plants. If you water in the morning, the sun will dry up surface water making the path to your plants less appealing.

Companion Planting Chart.
Common/Latin Helps Helped by or attracts Repels / Distracts Avoid Comments
Allium fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc), brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc) carrots carrots slugs, aphids, carrot fly, cabbage worm beans, peas, parsley Alliums include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, and others
Asparagus officinalis Tomatoes Dill,Coriander, Tomatoes,Parsley, Basil, Comfrey, Marigolds Onion, Garlic, Potatoes Marigolds will deter beetles.
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
  fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc), brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc) carrots carrots slugs, aphids, carrot fly, cabbage worm beans, peas, parsley Alliums include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, and others
Asparagus officinalis Tomatoes Dill,Coriander, Tomatoes,Parsley, Basil, Comfrey, Marigolds Onion, Garlic, Potatoes Marigolds will deter beetles.

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