Monday, January 21, 2013

It's All In The Dirt

There are a few things that I have learned in gardening and the one major lesson is that not all soil is created equal and that the more you put into improving your soil the better off you will be all the way around. I'm going to tell you that this is going to probably be the most expensive part of gardening, it certainly was for me, however you will reep the rewards in by vegetables that are big and beautiful, without all the added checmicles and fertilizers needed for poor soil.

I chose to use the raised bed gardening method because of the sandy nutrient poor Florida soil. For me it made more sense to start with new soil Right from the very beginning instead of giving myself a migraine with amending the soil and then just ripping it out in the end anyway as I've been known to do. To fight the rocks shale and attempting to amend what I already had.

I have read the book "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew, and have taken his suggestions for his soil "recipe" and made some adjustments and additions of my own, based upon local availablity of some of the components required for the compost, along wtih the addition of the two types of peat moss.  I would recommend anyone getting into vegetable gardening  to read this book, it's a must have and offers so many insightful tips and information.

Here is a list of the componets of the soil in my raised beds.  I had some local purchases, and some I had to drive to Arcadia, FL to get.  If you find any of these closer, or cheaper, please feel free to leave me a message or post.  I would LOVE to share and collaborate on any ideas you may have. 

Math 101 to calculate how much soil you will need:

Multiply the widths of your box, and divide it by 2 to figure out how much volume your 6" deep box will hold:

(4 X 4) / 2 = 8 cubic feet
(4 X 8) / 2 = 16 cubic feet
(4 X 12) / 2 = 24 cubic feet
(4 X 16) / 2 = 32 cubic feet

Do not go by weight!!!! 

Soil For a 4' x 8' x 6" (16 sq ft.) raised bed

 Shopping List:

1/3 Coarse Vermiculite

1/3 Sphagnum Peat Moss (if available ½ brown peat moss, and ½black peat moss)

1/3 Compost (Must be a blend of 5 or more different composts-listed below). 

Compost Mix:

Hen Manure

Organic Manure Compost

Mushroom Compost

Green Planit Compost

Worm Castings

(Optional Additions)

Black Cow- Manure

Very well aged horse manure (at least 8 months or longer)

Homemade compost - Stuff from your own garden is an excellent source of compost

Purchases made:

Hen Manure, Spagnum Peat Moss, Coarse Vermiculite from: Smith's Ranch & Garden in Arcadia Fl (Coarse Vermiculite is approximately $25 for the large bag,Peat Moss large bag approx. $25, Hen Manure – Approx. $7 for 1 cubic ft. bag).

Mushroom Compost – Lowes (Approximately $2.75 a 1 cubic ft.bag)

Organic manure compost – The Home Depot (Approximately $1.55 a 1cubic ft. bag)

Worm Castings – Green leaf worm farm

Green Planit Compost – Green Planit Recycling $10 for 1 cubic yard (it’s a LOT) bring a truck!
Smith's Ranch & Garden Inc.      Sphagnum Peat Moss - $25 large bale
117 West Magnolia Street                  Hen Manure - $8 per 1 cubic yard bag
Arcadia, FL  34266                               Vermiculite - $25 large bag

Green Planit Recycling                        Compost - $10 per 1 yard.
4694 Duncan Rd.
Punta Gorda, FL  33982

Green Leaf Worm Farm                      Worm Castings: Many different sizes.  Example:  1lb Bag - $8
North Port, FL                                                                                                                     5lb Bag - $15

Sunday, January 6, 2013

End of a Great Fall Garden

Well I hope everyone had a great Holiday, however it's time to get busy in the garden again.

I can tell that my fall garden is almost finished for the season. I've harvested almost all of the cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes but because of the 80 degree weather we've had lately my lettuce has begun to bolt. However I think that all things considered I've had a pretty good first crop.  I've started another batch of broccoli, but I think I'm a bit late, even though they were put out the end of December the weather has been just too warm.

However, I think I've had a pretty good harvest for my first real garden.  I've made several batches of freezer pickles, salsa, and pepper jelly and have plans for a lot more canning ahead for the spring crop.

I will be posting some of my recipes here for you to enjoy soon.

So, on this vain, I've made some purchases for the spring garden which I hope to begin planting either mid February or at the very latest first week of March.  These by the way were all the recommended varieties from the UF website, and from local growers suggestions.  I did purchase seeds from two places this year and from a local store Smith's Ranch and Garden in Arcadia FL.  They have a great selection of new seeds for the season, and sell them by weight.  I purchased 1/4 ounce seeds, because I wanted to give them a try first.  According to them, these seeds have a 85-95% germination rate.

I'm going to start putting some of these in pots tomorrow (I know I'm a little late) however I've been extremely busy with family, and the holiday's and just haven't had the time to get to them.  I did however get a Worm Factory 360 for Christmas, and will be making some posts with regards to my progress with this.

As you've probably noticed, I have only chosen the indeterminate variety of tomatoes this year because I want to really focus on the vertical growing method and the bush tomatoes just get too leggy and take over the small raised bed space.  I'm also going to focus on growing the beans, cucumbers, and peas on the trellises as well.

I'll keep you posted on how the plants make out.

This is the Johnnyseeds selection:

Vegetables > Beans > Beans, Pole > Round Pod

Slick Pik® YS 26 (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Squash > Summer > Yellow

Excelsior (F1) (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Cucumbers > American Pickling

Peppino (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Peppers > Hot Specialty Peppers

Jalafuego (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Peppers > Hot Southwestern Peppers > JalapeƱos

Juliet (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Tomatoes > Saladette and Sauce > Indeterminate

Red Pearl (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Tomatoes > Grape

Smith's Ranch and Garden Seeds:

Kentucky Wonder - Pole Bean

Alaska Snow Pea

Blue Lake - Bush Beans

Beefsteak - Tomato (Indeterminate)

California Wonder - Bell Pepper

Serrano Chili

Roma - Tomato (Indeterminate)

Poinsett - Cucumbers 

Crimson Sweet-Packet
Vegetables > Watermelon > Red Flesh