Starting a Successful Vegetable Garden Jon Traunfeld- jont@umd.edu

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Starting a Successful Vegetable Garden Jon Traunfeld- jont@umd.edu Slide 2 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Slide 3 Why do people grow vegetables? Flavor, freshness, pesticide-free Save money; learn new skills Health benefits exercise, nutrition, phytochemicals Connection to nature and family traditions Introduce youth to gardening v Slide 4 Join the Grow it Eat it Network! A program brought to you by Maryland Master Gardeners and the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC) Goals: teach people how to grow food increase the number of Maryland food gardeners create a network of food gardeners who will keep learning and sharing through classes, workshops, events, web site, blog Slide 5 We teach a common-sense, ecological approach Rely on locally available materials and resources- (rocks, leaves, animal manure). Feed the soil (with organic matter) to increase garden productivity. Maximize biological and genetic diversity to strengthen your garden eco-system. Example: Plant an assortment of annual flowers and herbs to attract and feed beneficial insects. Slide 6 Ingredients for first year success Good, deep soil; add organic matter. Give your plants the nutrients, water, and sunlight they need. Prevent weeds from growing. Make a plan; give it a little time each day Observe and take notes ENJOY! Slide 7 What type of vegetable garden? In-ground- convert turfgrass to vegetables Containers- on back step, deck, or balcony or along driveway Edible landscape- pepper, cabbage, Swiss chard, etc. mixed into ornamental beds Combination of the first three Slide 8 Vegetable crops 5-10 plant families may be represented in the average garden (almost all of our vegetable crops are non-native- not even from North America!) Most are annuals with a life cycle somewhere between 25 days (radish, baby greens) to 110 days (big pumpkins.) Require good growing conditions to produce high yields. Can be incorporated into ornamental landscape. Slide 9 Making a plan Good planning will save you time, work, and $ Garden size; how big?- consider time, space, mouths to feed, motivation Always best to start small What should I grow Easy crops What your family will eat Slide 10 7 good crops for starters Tomato- productive and popular Pepper- slow-growing but worth the wait Cucumber- make them climb to save space Summer squash- feed the neighborhood! Bush bean- plant them twice Lettuce- grow best March-June and Sept.- Nov. Leafy greens- mustard, kale, collards, Asian greens, and Swiss chard (grows during hot weather) Slide 11 Sample 8 ft. X 8 ft. garden 8 ft. 3 ft. Two raised beds- 8 ft. X 3 ft. with a 2 ft. path in the middle Time: late May Both beds could have been planted in salad greens from April 1 through mid- May 3 tomato plants row of bush beans 2 cuke plants 1 squash plant 3 pepper plants Swiss chard and kale leaf lettuce Slide 12 Can I really save $? Yes, but have you heard the one about the $100 tomato? Only buy what you really need; be resourceful An 8 ft. X 8 ft. garden with 48 sq. ft. of growing space should produce $175-300 of fresh produce Slide 13 Picking a site Level ground; close to water source. Southern exposure; tallest plants on North side. Protection from critters. Slide 14 Digging and aerating tools Slide 15 Soil prep Kill sod and control weeds- Cover area with newspaper or cardboard, and cover with leaves, and compost OR Dig up the area by hand or with a tiller Slide 16 Soil prep Slicing off sod Turning soil Loosening subsoil Slide 17 Sheet compost your way to a vegetable garden Slide 18 You need good soil Well-drained Friable- deep, crumbly; allows for maximum root growth. Regular additions of organic matter will improve soil structure and create a reservoir of slow-release nutrients. Test your soil; 6.0-6.8 is preferred range for soil pH. Urban/suburban soils are often low quality soils Slide 19 Ways to add organic matter Farmyard manure (fall) Compost Shredded leaves and grass clippings Organic mulches Plant roots Cover crops Large amounts of organic matter may be needed for several years. Thereafter, 1 in. of compost will help maintain high yields. Slide 20 Cover crops improve and protect soils Increase soil organic matter. Mine the soil for nutrients. Protect soil from erosion. Slide 21 Raised beds s ome advantages Warm up quickly in spring. Drain well; less compaction and erosion. Increase available rooting area. Can produce greater food production per square foot. and some disadvantages Up-front labor and expense. Dry out quickly if weather is hot and dry. Dont work on slopes, unless terraced. Slide 22 Raised bed basics 2-4 ft. wide; usually 6-8 above grade; can be bordered with wood, stone, brick Instant raised bed filled with a purchased soil/compost mix Slide 23 Good info on most seed packets Slide 24 Growing healthy transplants Slide 25 Intensive gardening: getting the most per square foot Close planting Vertical growth Inter-planting Succession/relay planting Slide 26 How close is too close?? Correct spacing for big onions Okra plants are too tight Slide 27 Interplant to maximize production purslane is edible! Slide 28 Mustard greens on north side of tomatoes Slide 29 Keep the harvest coming with succession planting Requires planning Transplants fill the space quickly Special attention to water and nutrient needs Floating row cover for protection from pests and excessive heat Slide 30 An entire raised bed of Asian leafy greens. Slide 31 Get the most from every square foot: succession planting examples Garlic (11/1)-cucumbers (7/1)-oats/clover (9/20) Peas/favas (3/1)-squash (6/1)-kale (9/1) Lettuce (3/20)-green beans (5/15)-broccoli (8/1) Radish (3/1)-Asian greens (4/15)-eggplant (6/1)- rye (9/15) Cucumber (4/15)- green bean (7/1)-spinach (9/20) Slide 32 Most commonly available commercial organic fertilizers Fish emulsion: 6-2-2 Seaweed extract: 1-.5-2 Bloodmeal: 15-1-0 Cottonseed meal: 6-2.5-1.5 Guano: 8 to 13-8-2 Bone meal: 4-21-0 Rock phosphate: 0-22-0 Alfalfa meal: 3-1-2 Slide 33 Fertilizing tips Nitrogen is nutrient most often in short supply. Use one of the meals (kelp, fish, cottonseed, alfalfa) to supplement N from organic matter. Follow label directions. Organic fertilizers can be over-applied and burn plants or stimulate excessive leaf growth at the expense of fruit. Add 1 inch of compost each year to contribute to long-term nutrient reservoir. Slide 34 Weed management Weeds are plants that thrive in disturbed soil. Best control methods: crop cover hand-pull sharp hoe mulch Other methods: vinegar, flame weeder, commercial herbicidal soap. Slide 35 Organic mulches Prevent weed growth. Moderate soil temperatures. Conserve soil moisture. Add to soil organic matter. Should be spread after soil warms up. Can provide habitat for pests along with beneficial critters. Examples: grass clippings, newspaper covered with straw, shredded leaves, compost Slide 36 Synthetic mulches Black plastic mulch warms the soil for earlier, higher yields of warm-season crops. Red plastic mulch may produce higher yields of tomato than black plastic. Landscape fabric warms soil and allows water and air into soil. Can be re-used. Slide 37 Drip irrigation: saves time and water Slide 38 Growing up: using vertical space Increase yields per sq. ft. Fewer fruit problems; easier to pick, water, and spray. Adds complex texture to garden; enhances ecosystem (shading, micro-climates.) Slide 39 Fence out the critters Slide 40 Container vegetables 8 cu. ft. of growing media Whiskey barrel- 1-2 plant capacity Slide 41 EarthBox- self-watering container Slide 42 Univ. of MD Salad Table: Growing salad greens at waist height March-November Slide 43 Mixed greens cut at 1 above soil line Slide 44 University of MD Salad Box Slide 45 Resources Grow It! Eat It! http://www.extension.umd.edu/growit We have all types of practical food gardening tips and information. Check out our popular blog! Home and Garden Information Center http://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic Here you will find factsheets, photos, and videos. You can also subscribe to the free monthly e-newsletter. We answer gardening questions 24/7just click Ask Marylands Garden Experts Maryland Master Gardener Program http://www.extension.umd.edu/mg Consider becoming a trained MG volunteer! Slide 46 This program was brought to you by the Maryland Master Gardener Program Howard County University of Maryland Extension

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