Archive for February, 2013

One garden show down, one to go.

We had a great time this past weekend at the Metro Lawn and Garden Show in Kansas City, three days in which we met quite a few gardeners who stopped by our booth and many others who sat through our presentations.
We developed two programs this year and will be repeating them at the Johnson County Home and Garden Show the first weekend of March.

Only one a day in KC, however, so audience members had to choose between the one at  guilt-free ways to battle bad bugs in your vegetable patch. The other was all about coping with drought.

The latter one is more my thing (mike speaking here). While we’ve had a bit of rain in the past few days, the drought prediction map put out by the weather service remains troubling. The outlook is for the drought to persist at least through  April.season_drought

But even if it doesn’t and suddenly we have adequate moisture all growing season — hah! — it’s best to be like Boy Scouts and be prepared for more of what we’ve been suffering through the past two gardening seasons.

Three keys:

1. Start with the soil: unless you’re a no till gardener with layers upon layers of compost piled high on your plot, it pays to think about amending your garden patch with compost and composted manure when you dig or till your garden this year. The more the better, because compost both helps our clay soil accept and retain moisture. it also helps aerate the soil allow your plants’ roots to grow deep to where the moisture is when things dry up. Loose soil two to three shovels full deep beneath your plants allows for better root development.

2. Mulch well: Once you’ve planted, make sure to mulch around your plants with whatever you’ve got:  newspapers, grass clippings, straw, etc. Mulch helps keep the soil around your plants from drying out. While an added benefit is it keeps the weeds from growing, as long as you keep it thick enough to shape out the sun.

3. Water wisely: Soaker hoses and drip irrigation work best. Sprinklers are for grass, not vegetable gardens. Selective watering of just your garden plants and now the soil around them with a soaker is both more effective and keeps your water bills down. Also, if you haven’t done it before, get yourself a rain barrel. Plants grow better with rain water, Kansas State Extension says, because it’s warmer and contains fewer of the chemicals used to purify tap water.

4. Plan and plant smart: To get the most bang for your watering buck, plant vegetables in blocks rather than straight lines and group together plants with similar watering needs.
When you do one or both, it makes watering more efficient — less ground to cover, as well as you group  plants that help shade the blistering sun from drying out the beds around your plants.

5. Choose wisely and read the labels:  When selecting plants to grow, keep in mind the watering needs of each. Green beans and members of  the cole family — notably broccoli, cabbage, Brussell sprouts  and sweet peppers– require more water than warm weather species, like  tomatoes and hot peppers.

Also, within a particular plant type there are often many varieties. The most drought tolerant tomatoes, for instance, you won’t necessarily find at your local garden store, Better yet to buy from seed catalogs where they is more variety and start  early.

We had many other tips on gardening in a drought, but those are the high points.

To learn more, come out at see us March 1-3 at the Johnson County show at the Overland Park Convention Center. We’ll be giving two presentations a day, one on drought and the other about battling bug damage. Here’s the schedule.

And as always, please buy our book or tell a friend to buy one by clicking  here. Makes a great Valentine’s Day cover. Also check us out here on our blog or on facebook.

Thanks much.

Posted by: mike h


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