In my previous post I mentioned that I am excited to help the program grow. Well, we are now full! All beds in the Raised Bed Gardening program are rented for the 2023 season. Not only that, we are expanding the program by 2 new beds.
Two weeks ago was Earth Day and our RBG talk was led by Deborah Winicki, owner and primary grower of Mon Soleil market garden in Stafford and Union, on how to choose good seedlings to transplant into our gardens. We learned about what can stress a seedling, and that we don’t necessarily want to opt for the largest plant available, especially if it is in a small pot. By growing food ourselves that doesn’t have to be transported from other parts of the country, we are cutting down on energy use
I had also mentioned that we learned about fertilizing our beds, but what I didn’t mention is that back in March I took samples of the soil in my bed and had it tested by the folks up at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in Windsor. And I’m glad I did! It turns out that even though we added plenty of chicken manure last fall, my bed is very low in nitrogen. When Mentor Vicki Deleo, a Master Gardener intern, gave a talk on fertilizers (including how to read a fertilizer package) she mentioned that nitrogen doesn’t usually last very long in soil, so it makes sense that the beds are going to be low in nitrogen again in the spring. Vicki also said that blood meal is a good way to add nitrogen to our beds, so I did just that with one of SFF’s new gardeners.
Along with Vicki we had Mentor Karl Hasel, experienced gardener and friend of the farm. He helped field questions, especially from the beginner gardeners who want a lot of guidance and aren’t sure where to start. We really are lucky to have a great balance of different backgrounds in our mentors, and personally, I’m pretty excited for it.
At our most recent meeting this past weekend (May 6th) we learned about soil temperatures from Master Gardener Dan Gallagher. While we mostly think about air temps in our daily lives, they aren’t the only ones that are important to plants. The soil temps are even more important to seed germination. Dan also showed us an easy way to start squash and cucumber seeds using toilet paper rolls.
For our next meeting Dan will be back and we’ll learn about composting. And if the weather forecast looks warm enough we may even get some of our warm weather crops planted.