I’ve gotten a few emails from people who want to get going with planting their gardens. So I thought for this week’s Gardening 101, that I’d answer some of the most common questions I get so those who are experiencing an early spring can get started.
What kind of dirt do you use to fill the raised beds?
It all starts with good soil. Amending your soil with organic matter ensures that your vegetables have a good foundation.
I use a variation on Mel’s Mix (Square Foot Gardening). Mel’s Mix is :
- 1/3 Peat Moss
- 1/3 Vermiculite
- 1/3 Blended Compost
You can actually buy bags of Mel’s Mix now at his Ogden, Utah location. He says on his website that they are working on getting Home Depot and Lowe’s to carry it.
My Soil Mix:
I use a combination of my own compost (I’ll do a longer post on composting another day), a mixture of any other bagged compost I can buy like mushroom compost, chicken manure, worm casting, cow manure etc. (I buy as many different kinds as possible and I mix them together) and organic vegetable dirt like Miracle Grow Organic Choice – it already has peat moss as an ingredient so I don’t add anymore….and my secret weapon….mineralized Rock Dust. Here’s a short article at greenliving.com that explains the benefits of using Rock Dust.
Do you use seedlings or do you buy transplants?
Last year was my first for starting seeds. I’ve always purchased transplants before that. I still don’t have a proper seed starting set up. Because I live in such a warm climate I was able to start seeds last year by using a little plastic greenhouse I got at Big Lots. I basically kept my seeds outside in the greenhouse except when I knew it would be too cold. It comes with clip on solar lights. Seeds need 12-16 hours of light to grow. Seed starting is a whole post on it’s own!
There’s a bigger variety of vegetables available as seeds. But I’ve found that most Seed Catalogs now also offer transplants and I always shop my local independent nursery (Hastings for you ATL folks) who has an amazing array of interesting herbs and vegetables.
In my opinion a $2 tomato plant that you buy at Home Depot or Lowe’s and plant in your garden is going to give you a much tastier tomato than one you can buy at the grocery store no matter if it’s a rare Heirloom or just a plain old Big Boy.
Also, some seeds are just better sown directly into your raised bed. Like carrots, corn, beans, beets etc.
If you’re new to gardening you’ll find that there’s enough challenge in just taking care of the plants you have. You don’t have to add trying to start seeds to the mix at first.
What fertilizer do you use?
I use fish emulsion which you can get anywhere. I also use liquid seaweed as a foliar spray. Meaning I spray the leaves of my plants with it. Plants can take up nutrients faster in their leaves than their roots. But it’s like getting a quick boost. It doesn’t last as long as feeding the roots. Of course, I start out with really well amended soil. The seaweed I buy on Amazon.
Hope that answers some questions. I’ll meet you in the comments for any further questions.
Please check my other posts in my Gardening 101 Series