February 2009
In This Issue
February Garden Tasks
Making Raised Beds
Quick Links
The weather in Colorado has been very confused this winter: cruel winds. little snow and periods of extraordinary warmth.  This makes me feel very uncertain what I should do in the garden.  A similar uncertainty fills the the country and most of the world: should we be investing in the future or hunkering down and playing it safe?In life, as in the garden, there is really no choice; we have to step firmly but carefully into the future — or the future will reap a barren harvest.  Regardless of the weather, regardless of the possibility of heavy losses, I keep planting.  Last year, my onion crop suffered because I was stingy setting seeds.  This year with winter sowing and an early start to the season, I expect to be overflowing with flowers and vegetables.  The same goes for Bountea: we are sowing seeds for the future with new products, packaging and presentation.  The recession is a crisis – a time of risky opportunity but also a time to work hard and keep moving forward.  This is the year for the big change, so make the most of it and put a little extra effort into growing more than you need to feed others as well as your family.This month’s article is a continuation of January’s — how to create a new raised bed with minimal effort and expenditure.  I offer three methods, all of which I have successfully used at different times.  If you want to read the whole article look for it on the website.

Do you want more gardening help?  In addition to this newsletter, I write a monthly gardening article that is published on the Bountea website.  Often a shortened version appears in this Newsletter.  For those who like web radio, you can listen to my gardening interviews with Daniel Davis on Beyond 50 Radio.  
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February Garden Tasks
The tasks from last month are still relevant: 

  • Organize your seeds from last year and order what you need. 
  • Buy enough seeds for fall planting.
  • Make your own planting mix -  4 parts peatmoss (or alternative), 1 or 2 parts sand, 2 parts Humisoil or  compost put through a ¼” mesh.
  • Continue to plant annual and perennial flowers in outdoor containers.
  • Dig out the propagation trays and pots and start sowing indoors.

Seeds indoors: fava beans, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, celeriac, cardoons, kale, leeks, lettuces (if not direct seeded, to be set out April 1).  See article Starting Seeds Indoors
Trees: prune fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs, but especially apple and crabapple trees.Pest Prevention: Plan to rotate crops over 3 or 4 years — Roots, Legumes, Brassicas, Others.  Flea beetles lay eggs in the soil where you last planted brassicas (mustard, cabbage). A different flea beetle attacks the nightshade (tomato, pepper, potato) family.

Bountea Compost Tea:  If you are growing indoors or with hydroponics, you can keep applying the Bountea Compost Tea on a 3 week or monthly schedule.  

Making Raised Beds

The Lazy-bed

The lazy-bed is the time-honored Irish way to make a rough raised bed to grow potatoes.  It works best in moist climates for fairly light soil beneath short rooted grass turf.  Even then, you need plenty of stamina and skill with a long-handled spade.

Lay out the lazy-bed on new ground — about 40″ wide.  Cover the middle 24″ of the bed with any organic matter, compost or well-rotted manure.  Cut twelve inch sods, about three inches deep around three sides; hinge them over with the grass face down to cover the organic matter.  A further outer sod or two on each side are then cut and turned to lean against the first ones.  The top is chopped to form an even surface and soil from the trenches spread to add a further layer of soil on top.
Tip: Potatoes grow well in new beds.  Use soil from the side trenches to earth up the stems as they grow.

The Cover-crop Method 
As soon as the ground is workable, roughly turn over the top three inches of soil and removed any perennial weeds.  Add a 1/2″ dressing of Alaska Humisoil (equivalent to 2″ of compost), some alfalfa pellets from the animal feed store and a good dose of Bountea compost tea.  Of the different cover crops available, I usually plant barley and white clover in the spring: these crops grow fast, add nitrogen and organic matter and have shallow root systems.

As soon as the barley and clover is about 6″ high, cut the plants down to the ground with an electric strimmer.  Turn over the top three inches of soil with the roots, smothering the cover crop.  Chop and rake the surface smooth and apply another dose of compost tea.  A week later, start planting.
Tip:  Match the cover crops to your soil needs and the season of planting.  Use deep-rooted varieties such as rye or alfalfa in the fall if you have heavy soil.

The Lasagna Method 
On virgin ground, lay down overlapping sheets of plain cardboard or up to 10 layers of uncolored newspaper.  You can often get large sheets of used cardboard from an appliance store.  Do not leave any gaps for the weeds to grow through. Water the cardboard or newspaper well, and cover with any leaves or organic matter you have around.  Finally finish up with 2″ – 3″ of compost, Humisoil and topsoil.

Apply Bountea compost tea and some alfalfa pellets to get the soil life going.  You can then sow a cover crop or simply plant directly into the new soil.  The cardboard attracts worms and disintegrates over the season, allowing the plant roots to push down through to the soil beneath.
Tip:  Make sure you keep the bed and layer of cardboard or newspaper uniformly damp to promote breakdown. 

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Care for your Plants — Care for your Soil — Care for our Earth
the Bountea way.
Organic Bountea
info@bountea.com  800-798-0765