NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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Gardening Delights for All!

Gardening Delights for All! 04/29/16Gardening Delights for All!                                    

What are the “simple pleasures” that you enjoy in life?  My list is long.  It includes things like hearing children laugh, giving and getting hugs, wearing new socks, smelling fresh-cut grass, and seeing fields and gardens prepared for planting. 

Conventional, traditional garden plots and gardening methods of planting in rows, and allowing ample space to till the soil between the rows have served us well in the past, and continue to do so.  However, “convenient” gardening practices such as raised beds, container gardens, and square foot gardening are also becoming very popular. 

The NDSU Extension Service publication, “Gardening Delights for All,” is a pamphlet full of practical information, how-to tips, and guidance to assure successful gardening experiences.  It focuses on non-traditional, money-saving, sustainable gardening.  Beginning gardeners will appreciate the step-by-step how-to tips.  Experienced gardeners may find inspirational for freshening up their gardening adventures by trying something new and different.

First things first.  Poor soil will produce disappointing results.  For that reason, the recommended first step is to test your soil for acidity/alkalinity, organic matter content, phosphorus, potassium, soluble salts, and nitrogen.  NDSU Extension offers a soil testing service for homeowners caring for their lawns and gardens.  Detailed information is available at https://www.ndsu.edu/soils/services/soil_testing_lab/.

Having the soil tested will lead to discovering what, if any, fertilizer is needed.  The idea that, “If a little is good, more must be better,” is seldom true.  It is certainly the wrong approach to fertilizer.  High nitrogen levels from excessive fertilizer applications can actually cause poor crop performance.  In those cases, money spent for fertilizer is money wasted.

The workability of soil is referred to as “tilth.”  It is the paramount need for a successful vegetable garden.  Good drainage is essential for good tilth.  By working organic matter, such as unmilled sphagnum moss, into the soil every year, we improve soil condition and drainage, and provide a buffering action against temperature extremes.  All this plays a part in more efficient water use. 

After the garden produce is harvested in the fall is the ideal time to begin conditioning the soil.  However, if you didn’t do that last fall, it can be done in the spring.  However, the precaution is to not work the soil when it is too wet.

Last year I grew heirloom tomato plants from seed.  If I only knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have planted the seeds so soon!  “Gardening Delights for All” recommends that indoor seeds be planted on April 15, and that seedlings be transplanted outdoors over Memorial Day weekend.

Chemical-free vegetable gardening practices, perennial vegetables (think asparagus), growing herbs, dealing with garden pests, fall plantings, and ways to extend the gardening season are other topics in the publication.  It also includes handy to-do-lists for fall, winter, and spring, plus grids for sketching out your garden maps.

Gardening Delights for All is available from your county extension office.  It is also available online at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h1600.pdf

Reference:  Gardening Delights for All, Ron Smith and Todd Weinmann,NDSU Extension Service, January 2012.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/children-gardener-kindergarten-832136/

 

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