A friend recently told me she finally has her raised beds in…..but, what’s next? So, let’s talk about what to do now to have a great spring garden!
First, good soil is the most important thing necessary for a productive garden. Without a good mix, that’s not too heavy, not too light, holds water and has some nutrients, the plants you add won’t do well. That’s why I filled my raised beds with a good planter mix from Grab N’ Grow in Santa Rosa when we built our new raised beds three years ago. Each fall I add about 2″- 4″ of bagged compost I buy at Home Depot.(Soon I’ll be adding my own compost but the chicken manure is still a little “hot”!) After it’s turned in, the soil sits till February when we begin seeding cool season veggies. Once you start thinking of planting it’s time to remove any weeds that may have sprouted and turn the top 8″ of soil to break the crust that has formed to prepare for seeds or tiny plants:
Since the soil in raised beds warms sooner some seeds/plants can go in a little sooner than they would in the ground. Hearing some rain was finally on the way, we spent last weekend getting in seeds for cool season veggies beginning with peas:
With a good soil mix it’s easy to make trenches or scatter seed and cover gently. While raised beds are great for square foot gardening (Goggle “Square Foot Gardening”) I decided to go with rows this year. Once the seeds are in lightly water to set them in the soil. Keep moist until they sprout if there’s no rain.
You’ll notice I’m using Renee’s Garden seeds – I’ve used them for years – their seeds germinate well and they carry a wonderful variety! Check out their website for loads of useful information: http://www.reneesgarden.com They sent me some new seeds to try this year and I’m excited to be able to report back as they grow! They are available at many local nurseries, including Orchard Supply Hardware.
While I was working in the garden “the girls” were clucking up a storm trying to get my attention so I thought I’d give them a little air time too….chickens make the garden so much fun! They are still giving us 3 eggs a day!
How you water your garden will be extremely important this year since we may face rationing with our lack of rain. Drip irrigation is definitely the best way to go. For some great information on drip irrigation, as well as everything else you may ever need to know about gardening, visit the Sonoma County Master Gardener site at: http://ucanr.edu/sites/scmg/Drip_Irrigation.
Note: You’ll find tomato plants, zucchini, beans all being offered very soon in the nurseries. It’s too early to plant them! Waiting until the soil and air is warm enough, around mid April in Santa Rosa, is best. Anything planted earlier will not do well, can die with an unexpected frost, or at best will just sit there in the cold soil till things warm up!