Ingredients to a Successful Vegetable Garden

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Ingredients to a Successful Vegetable Garden. Presented by: Kent Phillips Maryland Master Gardeners’ Mission. To educate Maryland residents about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Ingredients to a Successful Vegetable GardenPresented by: Kent

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2Maryland Master GardenersMissionTo educate Maryland residents about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. Your Own FoodWe Can Show You HowClick on Classes TabAnd Scroll down to Howard CountyRegister your garden large or small - on the GIEI Website address on a later slide.4Ingredients to a Successful Vegetable GardenHealthy soilFull sunSufficient soil moisture and airMaximize the use of garden spaceKeeping pests to acceptable levelsIPMGrow recommended vegetable varietiesThere are four main keys to maintaining a healthy vegetable garden. Well discuss each in turn.

5Importance Of These Ingredients Healthy soil grows healthy vegetables which resist insect attackVegetables require maximum sun exposureVegetables require an inch of water (.62 gallons) per week per square foot of garden areaPlants can withstand some pest damage (10%) but dont let it get out of hand.HGIC recommended vegetables grow Using this approach, you can grow great vegetables with a minimal amount of pesticide. Is it more labor intensive, yes. But once you build up your soil, the work will become much easier.

6What is Healthy SoilSoil rich in organic matter (OM) with lots of invertebratesHas lots of pores for air and waterAdd OM to garden every yearBuild up a reserve of humusSix inches of OM for new gardensOne inch for established gardens

Most important is healthy soil. So what do I mean when I say healthy soil. First, healthy soil has lot of organic material incorporated into it and supports a diverse population of invertebrates and microbes. Older established gardens should have about one inch of compost added each year. New gardens should have six inches of organic material added in the first year. For a 4 by 25 foot bed, thats almost 2 yards of compost 100 sq. ft. times half a foot = 50 cu ft. or almost 2 yards.

Soils need to contain the proper nutrients for plant growth. The macro nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). In general, we add fertilizers to increase the availability of these macro nutrients. Secondary and micro nutrients are also important. They include calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper, zinc and chlorine.

Most important, stay off your soil and dont compact it. This is especially true when the soil is wet. Almost as important is dont over till your soil. Tilling once a year to incorporate compost and soil amendments is sufficient. Repeated tilling introduces added oxygen into the soil and tends to cause accelerated decomposition of the organic material releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.7Healthy soil (cont.)Soil with proper pH and nutrient levelsDo a soil testFollow recommendationsUniv. of MD recommends adding .2 lbs. of N/100 sq. ft.2 lbs. 10-10-10/100 sq. ft.3 lbs. of 7-3-1 (soybean meal)1.8 lbs. of 12-0-0 (blood meal).2 lbs/% N = lbs. of fertilizer

There is only one sure way to determine the soils pH level and the availability of nutrients and that to take a soil test and send it to a lab. Soil tests are cheap and yield great information on the fertility of your soil.

Vegetables grow in soils with a pH between 6.2 and 6.8. Optimal pH depends on type of vegetable being grown, but a good pH for an all around vegetable garden is 6.5. pH is raised by adding lime to the soil. Recommendations for liming are generally given in pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet. Normally, the maximum amount of lime that can be applied in one application is 50# although 70# can be applied if the lime is being incorporated into the soil.

Maryland soils tend to be high in phosphorous so normally, only N and K need to be added. If your soil has had lots of OM incorporated into it, you may not need additional NPK otherwise,HG#42 recommends addition .1-.2#N , and .2-.4#pk / 100 for new gardens. For established gardens, the recommendation is for .2#n, .12#P and .08#K/100.Talk about NPK conversion using blood meal as an example. Its 10-12%N so to fertilize and established garden you divide .2#n by 10% to yield 2# blood meal per 100 sq. ft.

After you receive your soil test, you can refer to Home and Garden pub 42 entitled soil amendments and fertilizers. While organic gardeners can use organic forms of NPK, the basic rules of applying these amendments remain the same.

8Healthy soil (cont.)Online references at on Information Library, Publications and Soil, Mulch and CompostingHG11 - Soil test basicsHG110 - Selecting and using a soil testing laboratoryHG 42 - Soil amendments and fertilizersHG 35 Backyard Composting

SunPlants do best with full day sunMinimum requirement for fruiting plants is 8-10 hoursMinimum requirement for leafy greens is 6 hoursSome cool season leafy greens (lettuce) will benefit from shade as temperatures increase Soil MoistureOn average plants require one inch of water a weekOne inch of water equals .62 gal./square footOn a 4 by 8 foot bed, thats 20 gallons of waterMoisture needs to be delivered to the plant rootsMost efficient method of delivery is drip irrigation Search for Drip IrrigationAlternatively, use a soaker hoseMulching plants helps conserve soil moisture Search for MulchzillaPlace mulch over soil after soil has warmedThe second key to a healthy vegetable garden is maintaining sufficient soil moisture at the plants root level. In general, plants require about one inch of water a week to maintain healthy growth. Thats .62 gallons per sq.. or 62 gallons per 100. While rain supplies the bulk of this water to most gardens, during our hot dry summers, rain is tends to be absent and we have to find alternatives. Most gardener just hose down there gardens, but this method of watering is very wasteful since most of the water runs off and never reaches the root zone.

The preferred method of supplying moisture to the roots is drip irrigation. While there are low tech solutions, such as using bucket and 2 liter bottles sunk in the ground, high tech systems are relatively inexpensive and reusable year after year. A drip irrigation system for a 20 by 25 foot garden would cost about $80 initially with about $12 annually for new drip tube. I have helped install several drip system in the community gardens. They generally increase vegetable production by 100%.

Mulching plants during the summer also helps conserve moisture. Mulch can either be organic (compost, etc.) or inorganic (plastic). Drip irrigation under mulches are especially effective at keeping moisture in the plants root zone.13Maximizing Space Using Intensive PlantingAssume a four foot wide bedIn a 2 or 3 foot long area plant 5 broccoli plants in an x pattern Plant 4 lettuce plants between the broccoli plantsB L BL B


B L B L B Intensive planting (cont)Assume a two by four foot square garden areaPlant three row of green beans (36 plants). Plant twice during the year. Plant legumes after heavy nitrogen feeders. Plant four rows of beets, carrots or onions (48 beets or carrots, 24 onions) Side dress (add additional fertilizer to) some vegetables as they growPlant peppers and eggplants in the same pattern as broccoli abovePlant tomatoes three feet apart on the north or west side of the garden

Succession PlantingCool season vegetables grown spring and fallBroccoli, kale, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, collards, turnips, Swiss chard, carrots, mustard Warm season vegetables start May 15Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squashUse transplants when possible Rotate cropsPlant beans after broccoliDont plant tomatoes, eggplant or potatoes where they have been beforeStart early, end lateGarden from 4/1 to 12/15See GE 007 or HG 16 for planting datesBroccoli, kale, lettuce, beets, carrots, onions, peas, potatoes can all be put into the garden in mid March through AprilIn June replace with summer cropsSuccession plant short days to maturity vegetablesCarrots, beets, every 3 weekscucurbits late June, use transplants and row coverIn August, transplant fall broccoli, etc.In late August, early September, plant spinach, lettuce, turnips, and other fall cropsFall spinach and kale will winter over for spring cropIntegrated Pest Management95% of insects arent vegetable pestsUse simple steps and common senseStudy know your pestBeans Mexican bean beetleCucurbits squash bug, vine bore and cucumber beetleBrassica imported cabbage moth/looper, harlequin bugSolanaceous plants Colorado potato beetle, flea beetleSpy look for pest and eggs under leavesSquish large bugs dont use insecticide when fingers will workAn once of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Third, we need to keep pests to acceptable levels. Notice I didnt say eliminate pests. Bugs are a common occurrence in gardens and most healthy gardens can withstand some intrusion by pests. IPM is a method for keeping pests at a acceptable level.

IPM: simple steps and common senseStudyRight plant in the right place; give them what they need.Know the important pest problems and how to prevent them. Bean beetles on beans, flea beetles on eggplant, Colorado potato beetle on potatoes, etc.Learn the habits, life-cycle, and weaknesses of key pests.

SpyMonitor plants closely for signs and symptoms of problems. Monitor your garden at least once a week to catch problems early to avoid their spread. Are symptoms getting worse? Strive for correct diagnosis of problem. Use a magnifying gl