|Dear Reader,February is when it all begins!Â I could hardly wait a minute longer, so I planted a bunch of seeds indoors: 4 varieties of lettuce, 2 of leeks, Greek onions, chard, leaf beet and basil.Â Using my own starting mix (see below), everything germinated within a week.
I also decided to continue my trial ofÂ hydroponicsÂ using the AeroGrow machine.Â Last year I used their herb seeds and chemical nutrient package.Â The results were very disappointing: the plants looked sickly with little taste or culinary value.
At our garden meeting, a friend showed me her AeroGarden growing bunches of lettuce and kale.Â She let me into her secret: install an aerator and feed with organic hydroponic nutrients plus a capful of QLC.Â Â Well, so far so good.Â The lettuce I ‘planted’ using her suggestions are looking bright and perky.Â I will keep you informed, but I have hopes for tasty produce grown in what amounts toÂ biologically active aerated compost tea.
The snow is still deep on the ground here in the Mountains.Â Last week the winds reached around 80 mph andÂ two feet deepÂ snowdrifts blocked the road.Â Still, my greenhouses are standing and are relatively warm from the passive solar barrels arranged inside (I will tell how to make a 20 x 10 greenhouse for under $300 in another issue).Â With seeds starting to germinate, the year is beginning to look good!
Keep in touch and check out theÂ Bountea ForumÂ for more information.Â Â Now is a good time to orderBounteaÂ gardening products so you can get off to a growing start.
P.S.Â I planned to include an article on creating a new spring bed but the snow is too deep!Â Look for it next month.
||Save 10% on your next order of Bountea products by using the Coupon CodeSpring08Â when you check out.
Offer is good for one order over $30.
|Offer Expires: March 15th 2008 Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Forward this coupon to a friend
|February Garden Tasks
TheÂ Boulder Culinary GardenersÂ put our heads together and created a planting guide to help us keep track of the gardening year.Â It is geared for Northern gardens, zones 4 and 5 but can easily be adapted.Â Each month I will remind you of the main tasks to tackle.Seeds starting indoors:Â onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, celeriac, cardoons, kale, leeks, lettuces (if not direct seeded, to be set out April 1).Â Â See article Starting Seeds Indoors.
Trees:Â prune fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs, but especially apple and crabapple trees.
Pest Prevention:Â Plan to rotate crops over 3 or 4 years — Roots, Legumes, Brassicas, Others.Â 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.Â Don’t feed either this year!
Product SpotlightÂ -Â ROOT WEB
Root WebÂ is an essential ingredient of theÂ BounteaÂ Compost System and is of incredible benefit to your soil and plants. The mycorrhizae and trichoderma spores inÂ Root WebÂ reduce transplant
shock, improve seed germination, enhance disease resistance and drought tolerance, and greatly increase nutrient uptake.Â Mycorrhizae attach to roots and spread out over great distances, transporting nutrients back to the plant.Â Trichoderma attacks noxious fungi such as molds and mildews.
It is particularly effective against snow molds and fungal problems on lawns.
How to Use
AddÂ Root WebÂ to theÂ Bountea Compost TeaÂ as early in the season as possible according to instructions.Â You will get results a few weeks after application; the spores continue to grow throughout the season.
If you are not using the Bountea System, add 1/4 cup ofÂ Root WebÂ to 10 gallons of clean water and soakthe soil close to plants, trees and shrubs over an area of 250 — 500 sq. ft.
Add a pinch ofÂ Root WebÂ to your potting soil when you transplant.
Special Offer onÂ 1 lb Root Web – $44.95.Â Enough to treat 4,000 sq ft of garden or hundreds of plants.Â Offer expires march 31st.
|Starting Seeds Indoors
For many years I was intimidated by starting seeds.Â That changed when I found how short the growing season is here – last frost Memorial Day and first frost any time in October.Â Now, by February, I have all my seed starting supplies ready to go.To start seeds indoors, you will need:
Seeds (of course!)
Seed starting kits
Seed starting mix
Sources of heat and light
Seed Starting Kits
You can buy a seed starting kit from most gardening stores or online.Â They consist of a tray to collect water runoff, seed containers from 1″ to 3″ wide, and a transparent cover.Â Some come with compressed blocks of starter medium.Â I used to like 3″ containers but now go for the 1 1/2′” size and transplant sooner.Â That way, I use less planting mix for more seedlings.
Tip: Recycle all your yoghurt cartons, berry containers, egg cartons and last year’s bedding plant containers.Â Place them on baking trays or plastic tote lids and cover with a clear plastic bag.
Again, you can buy starting mix or compressed seed blocks or make your own.Â You can mix garden soil with peat moss but it is more likely to have weeds and diseases.Â I use 2 partsÂ Alaska Humisoil, 4 parts peat moss and 1 part sand.Â I screen it all together through a Â¹” mesh and spray with water until it is slightly damp but not wet.Â The seed containers are loosely filled to the top and then lightly tamped down with a piece of wood cut to size.Â I place a couple of seeds on top and cover with from 1/8″ to Â¹” of mix and water gently.
Tip: Screen your mix through a cheap plastic colander.Â Plant seeds about twice the size of the seed deep; tiny seeds need to be near the surface.
Sources of Heat and Light
The best quality propagating units are available through hydroponic stores and suppliers.Â You need a source of heat to foster quick and reliable germination – 75F to 85F for most plants.Â Seedlings like 16 hours of bright light each day.Â Heating mats and propagating lights are fairly expensive so be creative!Â Offices throw out lighting units all the time.Â They are readily available at most recycling centers.
I use a set of rolling wire shelves from CostCo with recycled florescent lighting units on a timer.Â I place the seeded trays on top of the light unit (for heat) until the seeds germinate and then place under the lights until ready to transplant.Â As seedlings grow I keep the tops about 4″ from the lights, and water regularly.
Tip: Label the seed trays with duct tape and permanent marker (I still get them all mixed up!).Â As soon as the seedlings are up, add Quantum Liquid CompostÂ QLCÂ to your watering.
It is wonderful to see tiny sprouts, full of life, pop out of your containers.Â With a little effort and creativity, you can have all your transplants ready for those beautiful spring days.
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