Agriculturist and passionate gardener, Jan Johnson, talks vegetable patches and sustainable growing.
After the warm winter, we are now faced with the possibility of frost this week and itâ€™s almost May! The weather can play havoc with a gardener. You plan by the history of temperature highs and lows but Mother Nature always has the last word. Of course newly planted vegetables and flowers can be protected if low temperatures are predicted. Mulching around plants helps to protect them. To mulch is to place a ground cover such as pine straw, bark, or even newspapers around the plants. This helps to retain moisture and holds in heat. Another protection from frost is placing a cover over the plants before sundown the day before a frost is expected. A fabric cover, for example a sheet, works well. Be sure to secure the cover from blowing away by holding it in place with stakes or rocks. It may also be necessary to provide some sort of frame to keep the cover from lying directly on the plant; this depends on how tender your plant is. The most important thing to remember is to remove the cover after sunrise the next morning. Leaving the cover on could over heat the plant. Some people use plastic to protect plants from frost but it is not the best choice. Plastic traps moisture and the increase in moisture could be a greater threat to the plant if it should freeze.
Last year I did my first raised bed gardening. It was very successful and I have added more beds this year. I like raised bed gardening for a few reasons â€“ I can garden with improved soil, and I have better weed control and moisture retention.
I used wood to make my raised bed frames but concrete blocks, natural stone, bricks could also be used. We used two by eight lumber, which gives the garden a depth of eight inches. We simply joined the pieces together with brackets and screws.
Once the frames were assembled, I loosened the soil on which they would sit. I then covered the soil with newspaper to block weeds and filled the beds. I followed a â€śrecipeâ€ť of 65 percent organic topsoil, 20 percent compost, 10 percent aged manure and 5 percent peat moss.
An added bonus of raised bed gardening â€“ I have read that, since warm air rises and cold air drops, a raised bed can keep frost from forming. Maybe my garden will be safe this week after all!
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