HOLBROOK GARDENING SEMINAR:
First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of you who attended our first round of seminars this spring. We had tremendous feedback and are glad to be a resource for gardeners in the area. As I mentioned in the class, I have additional information available for you. You will receive an email with attached Microsoft Office documents, but I also wanted to post them online in case you cannot access the files. During the last seminar, I also mentioned that I will be trying my very hardest to update you on our own planting schedule here on the farm, whether it be daily or weekly. As you may have guessed, I have been extremely busy with planting so updating you may take some getting used to. Please feel free to email me if you feel you would like an update. I need constant reminders for everything since I am pulled in a zillion directions. The following is the additional information I promised and following will be an update on what I've planted so far:
Too small is better than too big. Start small and work your way up! The last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself. We'd like this to be an incorporation to your life style and not a fleeting hobby. (Don't frustrate yourself! This should be fun and exciting!)
Many of you had questions about best methods to protect your garden. As we discussed, there are many different ways you can protect your garden and it all depends on how much money you want to spend and how much physical work you want to put into it. Besides the fencing methods we talked about, it seemed pretty clear to me that the most invasive pests seem to be small varmints: groundhogs, voles, chipmunks, and squirrels. Although we may not have the perfect solution for everyone and everyone’s needs, I personally find that the best and easiest solution is to figure out how nature handles these pesky creatures. Natural predators are the best solution. For example, we have a farm cat. Not all of you want a cat, so I did some research and found that screech owls are fantastic hunters. Creating an environment to allow owls to hunt near your garden may help tremendously (making a nest or owl house).
Also, squirrels often like to munch on seeds from bird feeders. If you have a bird feeder near your garden, perhaps moving it further away will deter squirrels and other seed loving animals. Evaluate your garden, determine if you have anything attracting the specific pest you’re trying to avoid and go from there!
If your pests are bugs and insects, prevention is the best method. This is why crop rotation is crucial and squashing eggs are very important. If you are having slug problems, place bait slightly away from problem area. Drowning techniques may work (i.e. beer), but have not had great success personally. Natural predators are always the best and most effective approaches. As John mentioned, create a space for toads!
I can’t stress enough how much soil health is the basis for your garden’s success. Your soil is alive, teeming with microorganisms that make nutrients available for your plants to absorb. Without healthy living soil, your plants will have a much more difficult time getting what it needs. When plants lack in nutrients, they are weak and are more prone to disease and pest attacks. They will also lack the essential nutrients when consumed by you!
I highly recommend a soil test to start off every season so that you can make the necessary amendments before your garden is planted. The soil test will let you know about any heavy metals that may or may not be present in your soil and it will also provide you with the basic N-P-K amount.: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These are not the only nutrients your plants need. Micronutrients are equally as critical. When applying fertilizers, less is more. You can always add more later. Too much fertilizer can burn or damage roots, which is often the case when using hot manure (besides the obvious contamination concern).