Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Backyard Farmer: 4 of 4: Good Health

Old picture of staked Tomatoes at the original farm
I hustled to the gym early today to beat the snow.  Yes, I could have stayed snuggled in my warm bed and used the excuse - "Oh the roads were too bad to go out," but that would be a bunch of bologna and cheese!  Not only do I sincerely enjoy Crossfit, I have made a commitment to health.  

Just as personal health is important, health in your garden is a huge part of setting yourself up for prize winning produce...not to mention being the envy of every neighbor on the block when they see all of the awesome stuff you've grown.  

Go You! 

Number 1: 
Do not plant the same thing in the same spot each year.  This is a BIG no! no! from both a nutrient stand point and a disease standpoint.  A lot of diseases live in the soil.  By rotating planting sites you're giving the disease time to leave the soil (for some pathogens this takes years) and you're ensuring that you don't infect your vegetables during the current season. I realize that some gardens may be small but try your best.  You are setting yourself up to failure by not practicing a good "crop rotation."

Number 2:   
A wise man once said to me, "Rosie, the soil is like your bank account.  If you don't put anything into it...you can't get anything out of it."

Putting nutrients back into your garden will help you have nice yields of great tasting crops...and it's a lot easier than you think.  

What do you do with the leaves in your yard each year? 

You put them in bags and throw them to the curb? 

What?!? 

An incredible way to increase organic matter in farming is by using leaves.  It is a great soil amendment which is free and readily available to most people.  Go rent yourself a rototiller to work the leaves (or cover crop) into the soil from Home Depot or your local hardware store if they have a rental center.  You can also seed a cover crop of various legumes and grasses to help amend the soil.  Winter Wheat, Crimson Clover, Mustard, Hairy Vetch are a few examples.  Seed companies normally have a tab that says "farm seed" which is where to find cover crop seed.   

Number 3:
Fertilizing through out the season will help produce strong happy plants.  You want as much lush foliage as possible. This protects the fruit and makes it more difficult for plants to die due to light snacking from bugs.  Neptune's Harvest Fish Fertilizer is a popular choice.  

Number 4: 
Through out the season I get a lot of questions from customers involving treatment/irradiation of certain bugs that are plaguing their beloved garden.  Some of these are tough questions to answer based on size of garden and how much money it will cost to treat the problem.  

Johnny's Seeds has a full line of organic pesticides and fungicides on their website.  If you know from past years you have issues with a certain pest it's best to order now so it's on hand for when you have a problem. If you're in a pinch, Seven, which you can buy at any hardware store or garden center works on a lot of bugs.  However you must ALWAYS read the label and make sure that the item you are treating and the pest are listed on the label.  The "label is the law" and it is illegal to use pesticides in a manner inconsistent with the label...That was my public service announcement for the day!

Happy farming! 

No comments:

Post a Comment