- Garden Planning
- Crop Rotation
- Seeds & How to Plant
- Adding compost
- Planting peas (TT)
This week finally brought some greatly desired warm weather, as well as a bit of rain, for our gardeners who returned for their second round of classes led by the ever knowledgeable Denise. After adding some fresh compost to the beds at the end of last week, and weeding out the weeds (pun intended) midst the Ethan Allen group’s sprouting raspberries, it was time to begin discussing the ins and outs of planning a garden.
Planning a Garden:
What do I plant? Which vegetables and fruits will do best in my garden? Where do I buy seeds and how do I know I’m planting them correctly? These questions were all addressed by Denise as she provided our students with some valuable tips on planning and preparing for a successful garden in both Monday’s class at the Ethan Allen Homestead and Wednesday’s Tommy Thompson group. In terms of choosing what to grow it is important to consider your personal food and/or culinary preferences, the amount of sun and shade your designated plot will receive throughout the season, the amount of space each crop will need to grow successfully, and the actual geographic location of your garden. Our class textbook, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, is written by native Vermonter Edward C. Smith and is a great reference to have in picking which crops to cultivate in Vermont’s climate. Denise also provided some instructive handouts that illustrate Plant Hardiness Zones, which map out regions based on average winter temperatures and help provide gardeners with a standard for determining which plants will thrive in their local region. For a colored, interactive map you can visit the USDA’s website at: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/.
Although we are just beginning this season’s garden, Denise introduced our students to crop rotation, an important concept to consider when thinking about a garden or field in the long-term. Rotating crops in successive seasons is key in maintaining soil fertility and disturbing pest cycles and diseases. Each garden is different, and therefore each crop rotation cycle differs in terms of length of the rotation and the types of crops being included. For more information visit: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/crop-rotation.
As a part of her garden planning discussion, Denise shared with both classes how to go about acquiring seeds as well as what things should be considered when planting them. Seeds of all kinds, both organic and non, can be purchased at any garden store or from seed catalogs. Locally, seeds may be purchased at Gardener’s Supply, a partner of VCGN, located at the Intervale, City Market, and directly from High Mowing, an organic seed company from the Northeast Kingdom (you can order online at: http://www.highmowingseeds.com/). When it came to talking about planting methods, Denise handed out a series of seed packets and handouts to describe the most important components to consider which include soil temperature, spacing, hardiness, and seeding depth. When in doubt, seed packets act as a great reference for making sure your seeds are properly sown and cared for. With a better idea of what types of veggies may be successful in their individual plots, our gardeners began brainstorming what types of seeds they wanted to get their green thumbs on to begin planting in the weeks to come.
Although Monday’s gang didn’t have time for any serious gardening work, we were fortunate enough to enjoy watching the pearly moon rise in the purple night sky over the Ethan Allen Homestead. Wednesday’s group was not as lucky when it came to the weather, yet the beds were full of wiggling earthworms and everyone went home with some freshly harvested asparagus, after planting and watering a couple of rows of shelling peas. This Saturday both of the Community Teaching Garden classes will come together at the Tommy Thompson Community Garden and share some delicious treats during our first potluck of season!