| February 2012 ||www.bountea.com|
|February/March Garden Tasks|
(February 15th – March 15th)February is a good time to organize and start planting seeds 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). If you have a greenhouse or protected garden, try plant Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and basil indoors for an early crop.
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.
|Seed Starting Mix|
You have decided to plant seeds indoors.Â In the stores you find different bags of commercial
soil-less seed starting mix. The labels list such ingredients as peat-moss, sphagnum moss, coconut coir, vermiculite and perlite. Some have added minerals, fertilizer and wetting agents or hydrogels. How do you choose? What are the best ingredients? How do you make your own?
Let start from the basics. All a seed needs to germinate is a consistent balance of warmth, moisture and air. Any medium that provides that environment will promote germination – a damp paper towel, warm soil, compost or a soil-less starting mix.
Commercial mixes use non-soil ingredients because they are easily available, clean to handle, remain moist and drain well. Of the common bulk ingredients, peat-moss (sphagnum moss) is mined from non-renewable peat bogs. It tends to resist wetting and dries fast so other ingredients are always added. The alternative, coconut coir is increasingly popular. It comes from renewable sources and wets more easily. However, unless it is processed well, it may contain excess salts and lock-up essential minerals. Look for salt-free buffered coir in the mix.
Make Your Own Seed Mix
It is not usually recommended to use garden soil for seed starting; it may contain disease spores that cause damping off or other problems. However, biodynamic gardeners do use a mix of their best top soil and well-aged compost.
My own adaptation is:
Put through a 1/4″ screen and mix well in a 20 gallon tote. I always experience fast germination, no diseases and exceptional seedling growth. Try it for yourself! ________________________________________
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