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gardening-basics,

Frequently Asked Questions: General Gardening

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Days To Maturity:

Seed packets indicate days to maturity for many varieties of seed. They are best used only as a general recommendation, because in our garden trials we have found that soil, weather, and cultural conditions can vary widely from one area to another, even between microclimates in one town. It’s helpful to use early, mid-season, and late-season harvest notations as a general guide in comparing different varieties of the same vegetables and in planning successive harvests, rather than using days to maturity as absolute indicators of growing time.


Fertilizing:

Even if you have good soil with a high organic content, remember that most plants need supplementary nutrition in the form of fertilizer for best growth and to produce the abundant harvests we all desire. Whatever product you choose to feed your plants, they should have a constant and adequate supply, especially in sandy soils. Plan to feed monthly at prescribed regular intervals throughout the growing season as it really can make a big difference in getting successful, high yielding plants. There are many excellent organic fertilizers available now in both liquid and granular formulations. As longtime organic gardeners, a good, all-purpose, tried and true combination we still rely on is: 1 tablespoon liquid fish emulsion and 1 tablespoon liquid kelp per gallon of water.

 

Building A Good Soil:

There is a very simple gardening Golden Rule: the better the condition of your soil, the better garden you will have! The best way is to add humus—organic material that is worked into soil to improve its balance, texture, and water-holding capacity. Use aged manure, rotted leaves, peat moss, compost (the best!) or whatever kind of organic material is available in your area. Adding humus benefits all soil types—sandy soil will hold more water; clay soil will be friable and less compacted. Humus will break down over time, so add it continually to your garden. Add organic material before you plant each new crop as well as at the end of the season.

 

Thinning:

Please promise to thin your seedlings out to the suggested finally spacing given on the packet backs! Over and over, I’ve seen proof of the incontrovertible fact that unhappy crowded plants just won’t grow or produce well and are more disease prone. While it’s hard to acquire the habit of thinning out the seedlings we have nurtured along, it is critical to a successful and healthy garden. Unthinned seedlings inevitably tangle together and do no thrive or prosper in the way properly spaced plants do. Properly thinned plants have the room they need to grow and mature and bear the harvest you expect. Unthinned plants can never reach their potential.

 

Storing Extra Seed:

Many gardeners have asked how to store leftover, unused seeds. Renee’s Garden and other good seed companies’ seeds come to you with high germination rates, and most varieties will keep easily for the next growing seasons. (Several exceptions: onions, parsley, lettuces, larkspur and delphinium do not always maintain their germination and are best purchased fresh each year.) The worst enemies of successful seed storage are humidity and heat. Never leave leftover seed packets outside in the garden or in an unheated outdoor shed or garage, because high humidity and dampness will ruin them. A sealed mason jar or freezer-weight ziplock bag is an ideal storage container. Keep seeds dry and in your coolest room or in a refrigerator. Plan to use them the next season.

Fertilizing:

Even if you have good soil with a high organic content, remember that most plants need supplementary nutrition in the form of fertilizer for best growth and to produce the abundant harvests we all desire. Whatever product you choose to feed your plants, they should have a constant and adequate supply, especially in sandy soils. Plan to feed monthly at prescribed regular intervals throughout the growing season as it really can make a big difference in getting successful, high yielding plants. There are many excellent organic fertilizers available now in both liquid and granular formulations. As longtime organic gardeners, a good, all-purpose, tried and true combination we still rely on is: 1 tablespoon liquid fish emulsion and 1 tablespoon liquid kelp per gallon of water.

 

Building A Good Soil:

There is a very simple gardening Golden Rule: the better the condition of your soil, the better garden you will have! The best way is to add humus—organic material that is worked into soil to improve its balance, texture, and water-holding capacity. Use aged manure, rotted leaves, peat moss, compost (the best!) or whatever kind of organic material is available in your area. Adding humus benefits all soil types—sandy soil will hold more water; clay soil will be friable and less compacted. Humus will break down over time, so add it continually to your garden. Add organic material before you plant each new crop as well as at the end of the season.

 

Thinning:

Please promise to thin your seedlings out to the suggested finally spacing given on the packet backs! Over and over, I’ve seen proof of the incontrovertible fact that unhappy crowded plants just won’t grow or produce well and are more disease prone. While it’s hard to acquire the habit of thinning out the seedlings we have nurtured along, it is critical to a successful and healthy garden. Unthinned seedlings inevitably tangle together and do no thrive or prosper in the way properly spaced plants do. Properly thinned plants have the room they need to grow and mature and bear the harvest you expect. Unthinned plants can never reach their potential.

 

Storing Extra Seed:

Many gardeners have asked how to store leftover, unused seeds. Renee’s Garden and other good seed companies’ seeds come to you with high germination rates, and most varieties will keep easily for the next growing seasons. (Several exceptions: onions, parsley, lettuces, larkspur and delphinium do not always maintain their germination and are best purchased fresh each year.) The worst enemies of successful seed storage are humidity and heat. Never leave leftover seed packets outside in the garden or in an unheated outdoor shed or garage, because high humidity and dampness will ruin them. A sealed mason jar or freezer-weight ziplock bag is an ideal storage container. Keep seeds dry and in your coolest room or in a refrigerator. Plan to use them the next season.