" IT'S OUR GARDEN " By_Elizabeth and Crow Miller

When You Plan Your Garden, Here's Some Things To

Know

When you choose a garden site, look for one that is well drained. If the only spot available to you is one where water puddles after a rain, you could forget about digging up that low-lying wet spot and build raised beds right on top of it, instead. Obtain some loose, dry topsoil and mix it with compost, leaves, aged manure and any other organic material you can find to form a 24-inch high raised beds,. The organic material will form moisture-holding humus in the soil and the loose structure will permit good drainage.

Less is more may be true in our garden. The problem here seems to be that some of us lack confidence. Some, empty a whole packet of seeds in a small space, thinking that at least some of then will grow. But all too often most of them grow, and, in their search for air and light, that develo tall, weak stems that never fully recover even after we've thinned the surplus seedlings. There are some plants, like peas and parsnips, that should be seeded rather thickly, but most others are habitually over crowded Consult a good gardening book ("Let's Get Growing" By Crow Miller, it covers everything you need to know to be a master gardener, oh, yes) or read the seed catalogs to determine recommended seed spacing.

Seeds have within them everything they need to grow, except moisture and warmth. But, if you pile 4-inches of soil over them, though, they are overwhelmed. The soil is heavy and cold and often damp enough to rot off the emerging leaf bud before it can break the surface. Be kind to your seeds. Cover them with soil to a depth no more than 2-times their size.

Of the 50 or so garden vegetables available for planting, only a few may be planted extra early. Some, in their enthusiasm, tend to go overboard on these few because they've waited so long for a chance to plant something. So they plant several great long rows of radishes and leaf lettuce, only to find, after a little while, that they've got more than they can use and the extras are going to seed. A good solution to this problem, is to plant a single row or small bed of these early vegetables, and to keep replanting them every 2 or 3 weeks in small amounts. Thus, for the same amount of seed and space, but a continuous harvest through fall.

Mulch is great, but there are two ways to misuse it. One is to mulch heat-loving plants too early in the season, before the soil warms up. Mulch smothers weeds, but it's also a good insulator. Cantaloupes, tomatoes,

sweet potatoes, watermelons, peppers and egg plants will produce better if mulched.

Another mistake is to put down too little mulch. It looks good for a few weeks, but then weeds poke through, and they must be hand pulled, for there's just enough mulch covering the ground to make hoeing impossible. Insufficient mulch gives your plants much less drought protection.

How much is enough ? Well, maybe this will give you an idea: Sawdust; 2 to 3-inches / Shredded leaves; 8 to 10-inches / Straw; 5 to 7-inches / Newspaper; 4 to 7-inches / and Grass Clippings; 5-inches when you first spread them.

Watering the garden every evening after dinner can be good therapy for the gardener, but it's not good for the plants. When the soil is often sprinkled on top but never deeply soaked, plant roots tend to remain in the damp, upper few inches of soil where they are vulnerable to searing mid-summer heat and drought. Vegetable plants need an average of 2-inches of water a week. Be sure to water thoroughly so the soil is soaked to a depth of 4 to 6-inches. This will encourage roots to grow deep.

Copyright · 1996 / Crow Miller, Syndication / Garden Philosophy / #60 /