This program was brought to you by the Maryland Master Gardener ProgramHoward CountyUniversity of Maryland Extension
You can edit your own title, sub title, author and email.**These are some of the main reasons people start and maintain gardens. There is a deep human need to connect to the soil, plant seeds, and then nourish your body with the harvest. The recession has lots of us trying to reduce expenses and become more self-reliant. Some seed companies had record sales last year and expect heavy demand in 2009. In 2008 we received a huge number of requests for information about starting vegetable gardens. *So right at the end of last year we came up with the GE campaign as a way to address this issue. Master Gardeners across the state are teaching classes like this one. The HGIC is our partner in this. They add new information every day on the GE web site and answer questions by phone and e-mail. All of our contact information is on the next to last slide Ill show you and on the hand-outs you received.
We can also help you learn to grow fruit and herbs, but this class will be on vegetables. *We dont want to get too hung up on labels. We could substitute organic and sustainable for ecological.1. Rocks from your yard can form the sides of a raised bed; leaves from neighborhood trees can be shredded and added to the garden to improve soil quality and plant growth. Why buy dried steer manure from out west when there are locally available sources.2. Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. Adding organic matter is one of the most important things you can do as a gardener. OM improves the structure of the soil so that its easier to work with, holds water and nutrients and improves root growth.3.Diversity is another key to success. Different types of organic matter added to the soil will increase the diversity of critters in the soil. This ultimately benefits plant growth. What is a Sustainable Garden:Sustains itself through reliance on inherent resources; mimics natural eco-system.Needs a minimum of purchased inputs and relies on locally-available materials. Its not sustainable to buy compost or chicken manure from 5 states away when we have plenty in Maryland.Builds soil health (feeding the soil food web and recycling nutrients). Also, keep the soil covered (when you are not tilling or turning) with plants, mulch, cover crop, leaves, etc.Increases biological diversity above and below ground- plants, insects, microbial lifeDoes not pollute; strengthens the community eco-system. Requires knowledge, planning, and timing.There is no need to use chemical insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides in a vegetable garden.
What is Organic Gardening: no chemical fertilizer or pesticide. No rules (list of allowed and not allowed materials) for gardeners- just for farmers who are part of the National Organic Program. More info on organic gardening and farming and a list of certified organic farmers in MD is on the GE web site. Organic doesnt mean simply substituting purchased organic pesticides and fertilizers for synthetic products.
**This is especially important for vegetable crops because they are mostly annuals and mostly relatively shallow-rooted. For maximum growth, yield, and eating quality, they must be grown at a rapid pace with no major checks in growth. Providing water and nutrients when needed by plants is also very critical.
Other ingredients for success-fresh seed/health transplants; planting and harvesting at the correct time; monitoring for plant and pest problems.MD growing conditions: growing season days- 150 (Garrett Co.) to 225 (Lower Eastern Shore); four distinct seasons; quick changes in weather; wide range of soils- (many urban and suburban soils are greatly changed from native soils.)A wide range of warm and cool season crops can be grown (with planning and care.)
There is a way for everyone to grow something to eat.
There is one type of garden you wont find in Maryland: a no-work vegetable garden. It takes time- especially the first year when you are breaking new ground and getting established. Timing is everything. If you have a good plan and give your garden a little time and attention each day you can produce a lot of food.
**Can you name a native vegetable? Jerusalem artichoke (a relative of sunflowers) is about it- and it originated on the American Plains!Native fruits are a different story: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, crabapple, elderberry, fox grape (Vitis labrusca)Here you can introduce various schemes for classification- by plant families; cool-season and warm-season; annuals, biennials, perennials; crops that are grown for leaves, fruits, roots, stems or combinations thereof, etc. Do you want to ensure a steady supply of salad greens? Are you psyched about the idea of having enough cucumbers for pickling? Are you most interested in tomatoes and basil for great Italian dishes? Does your family go bonkers for fresh green beans (youll want to plant some every 2-3 weeks from mid-May through July?)
*Refer to revised HG #70 Recommended Cultivars fact sheet for list of cultivars AND to see which crops do well in containers and less than full sun.*This garden can produce: 30 lbs. of tomatoes; 8 lbs. of snap beans (planted twice); 8 lbs. of cukes; 3 lbs. of squash; 5 lbs. of pepper; 10 lbs. of lettuce (planted twice); 15 lbs. of leafy greens (planted twice). These are moderate yields.
*$100 tomato joke- $5 for the biggest plant at the garden center; $10 for special tomato fertilizer; $20 for special Japanese tomato trellis; $30 for unnecessary pesticides to kill whatever is causing those brown spots on the bottom of the fruits (blossom-end rot!); $10 for a Wall o Water to protect it; $5 for a second plant because the first plant was killed one cold April night when a mouse chewed on the Wall o Water letting the water out; $10 to buy 2 lbs. of tomatoes on June 20 at the farmers market and $10 to ship them to your brother in Trenton who bet you $1 he could produce the first home-grown tomato in the family. At least you won the bet!!
Common-sense: dont spend money on products or tools you really dont need. Saving seeds saves you money.Cost of tools: 4-tine digging fork- $25-35; garden spade- $25-30; metal rake- $15-20; hoe- $15-20; mattock/pick axe- $30; seeds- $2/packet on average; 1.5 cu. Ft. bag of Leafgro - $4
We could tell you to only plant high value crops- expensive to buy in the store. But what if you love the flavor and texture of new potatoes? You should grow them. Also, potatoes used to be fairly inexpensive in the supermarket. No longer**Aspect- compass direction that the garden faces; distance and direction from trees, hills, and buildings; cant change easilySoil type- texture, structure, fertility, drainage; can always be improvedSlope- can be very difficult for planting annual crops; loss of soil, water, and nutrients; terracing recommended
Notice that this garden is fenced with polywire hooked up to a solar-powered fence charger. It is also terraced to create level planting surface. Also, tallest crops (tomatoes) are to the North of the pepper plants.One set of definitions regarding micro-climates:Macro- weather over 30 or more yearsMeso- climate as affected by topography, vegetation, people (city heat sinks, lake affects, cold bottoms)Micro- human space; 2 meters up, several meters out and meter down; climate as affected by plants, slope, aspect, buildingsEpi- leaf surfaces, rhizosphere; a few centimeters in any direction; climate as affected by foliage, mulches, row covers
*Shovel or spade; mattock/pick axe; garden fork (not a pitch fork). Three good hand tools for creating a garden and working in organic matter.*Image on left is just a cross-section of a pretty decent soil that is in sod, prior to making a vegetable garden. Notice the earthworm and small channels made by roots and small invertebrates moving through the soil. Image on right taken after the gardener used a mattock and spade to turn the sod. Notice that soil slices are laying sideways. Organic matter was then added and chopped into the soil. Good result. The thing to avoid is inverting the soil slices so that the subsoil is on top.There is no need to use glyphosate or other total vegetation killers.
Roto-tiller can be very good tool for large garden if used properly. Benefits of a roto-tiller: great for turning under cover crops, residues, and manure; makes soil loose and weed-free for planting; can disrupt pest populations in the soil.Potential problems: damaged soil structure if you till wet soil, soil compaction if machine is over-used; fresh tilled soil is more erodable; burns up organic matter if over-used (this means that excessive tilling is bringing a lot of air into the soil which accelerates the degradation of organic matter and release of carbon dioxide). One should not need to rototill more than a few times each growing season.Mantis tillers- Fast spinning sharp tines make a fast clean seed bed. I think they do damage soil structure by pulverizing the crumbs or individual soil aggregates. But they are popular and people seem to use them successfully.
Tilling/turning test: you know the soil is dry enough to work if you pick up a handful and squeeze it and then bounce it up and down in your hand. If it does not fall apart do not till.
No-till gardening. The idea is to maintain biomass on soil surface at all times. This means planting cover crops, planting vegetable crops through cover crops, and using organic mulches. It is the best way to manage soils but takes some thought and experimentation.Slicing off sod- some gardeners feel it is easier to push a spade at a very slight angle through the top 1 inch of soil so as to just remove the sod layer. (This sod should be returned to the garden later after the sod has decomposed.) Organic matter is then applied to the ground and worked in with fork or spade.Turning the soil- sod and top 6-8 inches of soil are lifted, turned sideways, and dropped. Organic matter is applied and incorporated with fork or spade.Loosening subsoil- the top 6-8 inches of soil has been cut through and removed. A garden fork is jammed into the subsoil and rocked back and forth. This loosens and aerates the subsoil. Organic matter is then added and mixed in and the top soil is replaced. The whole process is known as double-digging.Sheet composting (a.k.a. lasagna bed gardening) is getting popular. This involves laying down thick layers of cardboard (unwaxed)/newspaper/leaves/compost and other organic materials. If you start the process in Sept.- Nov. the pile of materials will be broken down by spring. Some gardeners dont till the compost in. They plant directly into the new bed.
If you start the sod-killing process in spring its best to use newspaper (the cardboard may not have time to break down completely prior to planting. The breakdown of all materials is dependent on soil and air temperature, moisture, etc.
*Deep, rich soil that allows for un-impeded growth is critical. (Soils with well-formed crumbs have high number of large and small pore spaces to allow for good movement of roots, water, air, and soil critters.)
Note that adding lots of manure can drive up soil pH, so check it every 3 years. All gardeners should have their soil tested for lead levels prior to garden establishment. U. of Mass has $9 complete soil test, including lead test. All info on HGIC website and in Soil Testing Lab fact sheet.Soil testing will give you a pH reading (how sweet- pH above 7.0 or sour- pH below 7.0). A soil in the 6.0-6.8 range will give you the greatest nutrient availability. A basic soil test also tells you nutrient levels for N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S.
*Food scraps can be buried in trenches in your garden and allowed to decompose. Nutrients are then available in the rootzone. Plant roots are very important for improving soil structure. Cut plants off at ground level with pruners or loppers. Compost the tops and leave the root system to decompose in situ.University of Conn. Research shows that continuous applications of compost builds up a reservoir of slowly available N that is sufficient to produce veg. crops w/out supplemental fertilizers.Animal manure: Should be thoroughly composted or well-decomposed (> 6 months); till manures under in fall when possible; wash all produce thoroughly after harvest; never use pet manures in the vegetable garden.
*On the left: Crimson clover growing in May, ready to be turned under. On the right: a Troy Bilt tiller turning under a cover crop in April. These two cover crops are planted in late summer-early fall. Cover crops improve physical qualities of soils; add macro- and micro-nutrientsThe root systems of winter wheat and rye are deep and massive. Very good at opening up and improving heavy clay soils.
Many people are unsure how to use a cover crop. The easiest way to get started is to plant some buckwheat in an un-used garden area during spring and summer. Ok to let it reseed. Buckwheat is an excellent bee plant- attracts many different pollinators.Another easy thing to do: in early-mid Sept., rake back the organic mulch around your vegetable plants. Sow oats and crimson clover seed. Walk on it. It will germinate and grow while your crops continue to produce into the fall. Pull out the vegetable crops and the cover crop keeps growing until cold weather hits. The oats will winter-kill and the crimson clover will come back in spring. Its easy to turn under. Rye and wheat are difficult to turn under without a tiller.
*Idea is not to walk on the beds. This prevents unnecessary compaction. With greater rooting volume of soil one should have increased plant growth and the capacity to move plants a little more closely together. Instead of watering and fertilizing foot paths and un-used portions of the garden, we focus all inputs on the growing areas.*CCA treated lumber (chromated-copper arsenate) no longer being produced or sold. For folks that have CCA raised beds- they can plant food crops 6 in. from edges. No one really knows the level of risk. So many variables.New ACQ lumber has no arsenic but has more copper than CCA lumber had. On right is an instant raised bed. There are companies selling mixtures of topsoil and compost. Always examine the material prior to purchase.*Whats a hybrid? A cross between two open-pollinated cultivars to produce a new cultivar with desirable traits. Hybrids may exhibit hybrid vigor- grow more quickly and may have disease resistance. The seeds collected from hybrid crops will not come true. That is, when planted out the next season the daughters will look different than the mother. This is a result of the genes of both parents segregating out and expressing differently in the daughters. Most broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, and muskmelon cultivars available to gardeners are hybrids. With other crops there is a good mixture of hybrid and open-pollinated cultivars.
Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated. You can save seed and it will come true. However, you cannot guarantee genetic purity unless you take further steps (isolating or caging plants, planting only one cultivar of a species to avoid cross pollination.)
65 Days means days to harvest from transplanting. This convention applies to other crops that are typically transplanted like, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowr, watermelon, muskmelon, tomato, and pepper.
Germination % must meet minimum federal standard. If the actual % is listed it means the number exceeds the minimum. The year the seed was packed is also listed. Some companies include lots of good cultural information. *There is ample information in the handbk. Fun to bring in transplants and supplies if you are teaching during winter/early spring. Just need a shop light and cool white fluorescent tubes to do this inside your home.
Hardening-off transplants prior to setting them out in garden. Research suggests that its best to withhold nutrients and water to toughen plants. Do not reduce temperature.
*Baltimore City City Farms garden plot at Patterson Park. Notice that very little ground is visible. In the middle you can see a raised bed with plants growing up on fences.
The onion bulbs grew large because they were well-tended and had plenty of room between plants. The okra will never make much fruit because the plants are way too close. Okra plants should be 12-18 inches apart.*Two broccoli plants spaced 2 ft. apart with anise hyssop, lettuces, and cosmos planted between and around. Fast growing, shade tolerant plants can be grown and harvested without interfering with the broccoli. This can also be done with tomato, pepper, eggplant.Shading from the tomatoes enabled this cool season crop to grow well into June and the beginning of July.*This is where a lot of people give up. Its hot, they are worn out and several crops were just harvested for the last time and ripped out. What now? If you have a plan and the will, you can make use of every sq. ft. from March-Nov. If not, at least plant a cover crop to build and protect the soil .**Each bullet represents one space- one bit of ground that can have three crops per year.Spring: Sow seed as soon as the ground can be worked; set out transplants of vegetables that are cold hardy.Summer: Plant warm season crops as soon as the danger of frost has passed (melon, eggplant, pepper planted last); succession plant squash, bean, cucumber.Fall: Starting in late July (sowing broccoli seed); the same crops grown in early spring (add in an extra 10-14 days due to decreasing light and temp.)Winter: Cover crops or over-wintered spinach, arugula, mach, etc.
*The numbers are percentages. So, if you had a 100 lb. bag of cottonseed meal it would contain 6 lbs. of nitrogen. Nutrient Release rate:Medium to rapid- bloodmeal, bird and bat guano, fish emulsionMedium- cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, FYMSlow- compost
*Use simple algebra to convert chemical recommendation to organic recommendation:20# of 10-10-10 per 1,000 sq. ft.cottonseed meal is 6% N.10/6 X 20 = 33.3# of cottonseed meal
We dont recommend the other methods but they are available. They do not kill perennial weeds and are less effective than the best methods.*Newspaper covered with straw is a big favorite with experienced vegetable gardeners. Grass clippings are great but make sure there were no herbicides used on the lawn and dont pile up fresh clippings around plants. They will begin to decompose anaerobically- very smelly.**Drip Irrigation for Home Vegetable GardensDrip irrigation systems are relatively inexpensive, very efficient and convenient, and easy to assemble and disassemble. Many Maryland Master Gardeners are familiar with soaker houses but fewer have used drip irrigation.The set-up you will see and play with in advanced training today is a ready-to-use kit from Dripworks in California. It sells for $50, exclusing the timer and will handle a 400-500 sq. ft. garden. The drip tape that delivers the water directly to the soil can be re-used if care is taken and it is stored out of the sunlight and away from rodents. The filter, pressure regulator and connectors should last for many years.Drip irrigation- also known as trickle irrigation- has many advantages for the home gardener. They are very efficient compared to overhead watering methods because 90%-95% of the water goes into the soil. Therefore less water is required to fully wet the root zone. Walkways stay dry allowing you to work in your garden at any time without worry about muddy shoes, and plant foliage remains dry preventing disease problems. And they can be easily and inexpensively controlled with automatic timers (mechanical or battery operated). Drip irrigation systems work off low water pressure, 8-10 psi. A simple filter, with a removable strainer, is first connected to the water bib followed by a pressure regulator. A header is laid along the top of each row or bed and individual drip lines or drip tape (T-tape is one particular brand) are connected to the header and deliver water from special pressure-compensating zipper emitters inside the flat tubing. A single drip line will irrigate a row of plants. For wide beds- drip lines are usually spaced 18-24 inches apart; 9-1`2 inches apart on coarse soils high in sand (these soils will drain more freely and are more difficult to wet thoroughly). The drip tape can be left on top of the soil (emitter side up) or buried. If left on top, its a good practice to cover the drip tape with a mulch.Drip systems deliver about gallon of water per minute per 100 of drip tape. Municipal water is fine but make sure you have some type of backflow check valve to prevent contamination of the water source. Although there are neat fittings and connectors designed specifically for use in these drip systems, you can also slip drip tape over inch standard plumbing fittings with barbed ends. The drip tape can be secured with electrical tape held tight with thin wire or hose clamps. It can take as little as 2-3 hours and as long as 24 hours to thoroughly wet the root zone. It all depends on soil type, temperature, crop, and spacing of drip tape. Think about the very dry summers we had in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002. Even when rainfall is close to normal during the growing season, your garden will be much more productive if you can irrigate on a regular basis. Isnt it time to try this out in your garden???*You can surround squash plants with fencing to keep them more upright and reduce sprawl. Peppers and eggplant benefit from staking and you can prevent corn from lodging over in a storm by surrounding each block with heavy twine or rope.*Rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, racoons, rats, and deer can all be major animal pests in vegetable gardens. Fencing is well worth the investment if you intend to grow something for human consumption. Solar powered fence chargers can electrify a 1-4 strand polywire fence. Detailed info can be found on the GE web site.*Good information in MG handbook and fact sheets.The foam box on the right produced very high yields because it was filled with a wonderful mixture of compost and soil, and ProMix and the 3 tomato plants had 8 cu. Ft. of growing media to exploit.*The EarthBox is gaining in popularity. They sell for about $40. They work best for tomato, pepper, cucumber, basil, greens. Drainage holes on the side not on the bottom creating a reservoir of water. Plant roots grow through media into water where there is sufficient oxygen for them to grow. Detailed info on web site. Low-cost, easy to find materials (about $35); construction with hand tools. Portable and productive.Tables are 30 in. X 58 in. and are made from 2X4s. Can be built to any set of dimensions and height desired. Some gardeners have put casters on these tables. Others have added a cold frame lid to protect plants in early spring and late fall.Average salad greens yield- 24 oz. per cutting per table; Average snap bean yield- 7.5 lb. per table; Crop yields exceed those of in-ground gardens.Multiple tables or locations necessary to maximize growth potential. Pepper, cucumber, squash, and tomato need frame depth >9 in.
*21 X 15 inches. Boards are 3.5 inches wide. Very easy to plant, move, and maintain. Great for small spaces, people with very little gardening time or unable to bend or dig in the soil. Plans are in HG #601.*Remember to put in the correct county!
Created by Jon Traunfeld, Extension Specialist, UME; 2014; revised 2/15*