I had a proud mommy moment yesterday while we were planting all of our spring crops. It was very warm, and you requested lemonade. Instead of just making yourself a cup, you made an entire pitcher and brought out cups for all of us. Way to go, girlie!
I have two simple garden hints today that make a big difference in the amount of work and money I spend in my garden.
Worms are good indicators not just of soil health but also pH. If you have a good worm population, the soil will be suitable for growing vegetables as well.
On a warm spring day when the soil has reached 60 degrees but isn't over 65, dig up a one foot by one foot by seven inch deep square of your garden and place it on a tarp or board. Count the number of worms (size doesn't matter). You should have at least 10 and it's not uncommon to have 50 or more. The soil needs to be very moist to get an accurate count. If it hasn't rained in the last 24 hours, use a sprinkler over the area before taking your census. Worms head down into their burrows with very little provocation. Walk lightly and dig quickly!
If you have a garden bed that was especially weedy or you're expanding your plot, cover it with heavy mil black plastic for at least two weeks before planting. You will need several days of direct, hot sun to kill all of the weed seeds in the soil. The plastic is available at most hardware stores and home centers at a fraction of the cost of landscaping fabric. You can plant through "x" shaped holes cut into black plastic, but it makes watering tricky. I prefer to use the plastic just long enough to bake the weeds and then remove it.
Carrots need constantly moist soil to sprout. After you plant the seeds and (gently) water the plot, cover the rows with 1 x 2's or other scrap lumber. Check under the boards occasionally and remove them as soon as you see sprouts.
Straw makes an ideal lightweight mulch.
Veggies prefer their feet cool and moist. Place a 4-6" layer of straw around the base of plants to provide optimum growing conditions and suppress weeds. Be careful not to purchase hay which has thousands of seeds. Learned that lesson the hard way....
These pictures are all from the gardens of those who love to share their growing tips and tricks.