Sustainable Organic Vegetable Gardening 2008 Basic Training for Master Gardener Interns Jon Traunfeld- email@example.com
A world of colors and good eating awaits you
Vegetable gardening: Back to the future New wave of interest fueled by rising food prices rising energy prices buy/grow local movement Seed sales and media stories on vegetable gardening are way up in 2008 Backyard and community gardeners are a critical link in any local food system
Master gardener roles Get more people to grow food. Work on MG food projects- youth, community, and demo gardens. Educate new and veteran gardeners through classes and workshops; teach basic MG training. Diagnose problems and answer questions at plant clinics. Promote organic/sustainable approach
Increasing food production one vacant lot at time
School gardens rock
Why do people grow vegetables? Flavor, freshness, pesticide-free Health benefits exercise, nutrition, phytochemicals Connection to mother earth, family traditions Introduce youth to gardening Save money; learn new skills v
What is organic gardening?? Twin cornerstones: build soil health (feeding the soil food web and recycling nutrients) increase biological diversity above and below ground- plants, insects, microbial life Organic doesnt mean simply substituting purchased organic pesticides and fertilizers for synthetic products
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. Does not pollute; strengthens the community eco-system. Requires knowledge, planning, and timing.
Marylands growing conditions Growing season days- 150 to 225. 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.)
Global warming Stronger storms and persistent drought. Increasing average temperatures. Higher CO 2 levels- super weeds. Gardener response: reduce the use of fossil fuels (gasoline, plastic, fertilizer) keep soils covered with plants or mulch conserve water; use drip irrigation provide afternoon shade for crops; select heat-tolerant crops and cultivars opportunity for season extension (spring and fall)
Vegetable crops 5-10 plant families may be represented in the average garden (none are native to MD and few are native to 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.
Ingredients for success Good, deep soil. Adequate nutrients, water and sunlight. Freedom from weed competition. Knowledge/planning. Attention/timing.
Site selection Level ground; close to water source. Southern exposure; tallest plants on North side. Protection from critters.
Digging and aerating tools
You need good soil Urban/suburban soils are usually of poor quality pH- 6.0-6.8 is preferred range. Friable- deep, crumbly; allows for maximum root growth. Regular additions of organic matter will improves soil structure and water drainage and create a reservoir of slow-release nutrients.
Ways to add organic matter Farmyard manure 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.
Using animal manures 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.
Cover crops improve and protect soils Increase soil organic matter. Mine the soil for nutrients. Protect soil from erosion. BuckwheatWinter wheat/hairy vetch
Crimson clover: adds nitrogen and beauty Plant spring/summer buckwhe at, white, red, or crimson clover, alfalfa, oats Rhizobium nodules on clover
Pick a cover crop you can handle Winter wheat and rye grow rapidly in spring- turning under by hand is hard work. Oats are winter-killed and easy to turn under.
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
Organic 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.
Starting a Garden Kill sod and control weeds Cover area with black plastic or cardboard, leaves, and compost OR Dig up the area by hand or with a tiller
To till or not to till 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.
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.
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
Read the label!
Growing healthy transplants
Plant protection Floating row cover over beans Shade cloth over lettuce
Intensive gardening: getting the most per square foot Close planting Vertical growth Inter-planting Succession/relay planting
How close is too close?? Correct spacing for big onions Okra plants are too tight
Interplant to maximize production purslane is edible!
Mustard Green on North Side of Tomatoes
Succession planting Requires planning Transplants fill the space quickly Special attention to water and nutrient needs Floating row cover for protection
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.
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
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.
Drip irrigation: saves time and water
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.)
Fence out the critters
Container vegetables 8 cu. ft. of growing media Whiskey barrel- 1-2 plant capacity
EarthBox- self-watering container
Salad Table Demonstration at Central Maryland Research and Education Center
MG advanced training workshops
Mixed greens cut at 1 above soil line
Contender snap beans
Preliminary results 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.
Resources Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC) 800-342-2507 http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Grow-It-Eat-It website http://extension.umd.edu/growit Master Gardener state website http://extension.umd.edu/mg
This program was brought to you by Maryland Master Gardener Program Howard County University of Maryland Extension