If you haven’t planted your seedlings yet, this weekend’s just about the perfect time. The weather today’s going to be up in the 70s, and we’re looking at 70s and 80s for the next five days, which means good soil temperatures, excellent conditions for planting. Why does soil temp matter? The higher the soil temperature, the quicker the germination for seeds, and the quicker your existing seedlings adapt to their new environment. With days and days of sun ahead, the only think you’ve really got to worry about is keeping things from drying out. Get out your planting gear and get ready to get hands deep in some loam.
Time to hit up a Garden Store, or a garden section of a bigger store, for some planting mix. If you’ve got containers and soil left over from last year, that’ll work, too, but think about topping that off with a little mulch or mixing in some compost as part of your process. It’s easy to do this in a bucket: dump in last year’s soil, dump in some compost, and mix thoroughly, and then re-pot. Don’t forget to make sure that your containers need drainage. That’s what allows your soil to avoid getting over-watered, and it’s what help carries away some of the plant waste, as well. If yours are clogged, a good wash in the sink is good, and don’t be afraid to put a few extra holes in place.
Find a good place in the sun for this weekend to maximize time in the light, if at all possible. Make sure to check every day that the soil isn’t drying out and caking in these warm temperatures. We’re still in the low-humidity portion of our Spring, which means that ambient moisture isn’t going to play a role in what you’re doing. Get a decent watering can, and maybe use the last of the growth accelerant that came in with your seed pod kit. Definitely won’t go amiss once your new preciouses are in the ground. Don’t forget to set up a climbing structure for those vine and creeper based crops like peas, beans and squash. Direct their growth up and off the ground where at all possible, to avoid spots for rotting.
Read on for Back Yard Gardeners and the Farm Laboratory work.
Back Yard Gardeners
You may have a long hot weekend ahead of you. If you haven’t yet turned over any soil, you still have time to get a good bed setup. Pick out a good 4-foot by 10-foot area and put the shovel to good use. The rain this week should still have much of your yard soft and shovel-ready. Turn over all the dirt, working in compost or manure or even just garden soil from the shop. If you’re working in raised beds, set up a good perimeter and secure it, making sure to secure the beams or bricks in such a fashion that they won’t wander off when the soil settles.
One of the tactics of the raised bed is to give you a good amount of soil you can control and add yourself instead of just depending on what mother nature has to offer. Setting up a good 4-6″ of quality soil will make up for what hard clay may lie beneath. Don’t just add it direct over hard clay, though, you’re going to want to break that up a bit at least.
Planting here is the same as everywhere else: Make a depression in the soil deep enough for your seedling, tamp the seedling’s soil down a bit from on top, careful not to damage the tender stem, and then pop the pod out from the bottom of the container. Place the pod in the center of the depression, and smooth the soil back into place, mounding some extra right up against the stem. Give it a bit of water to help meld the seedling’s soil and the garden’s, and then check on it the next day.
The Farm Laboratory
Hooboy. The blisters on my hands are fierce. We turned over all the soil about two weeks ago and started to add full compost. We’ve added Perc to the broken up heavy clay soil, and this week’s good soaking rain has likely been very therapeutic to conditions at the farm. If you’ve got a giant plot, this weekend’s the perfect time to do the final prep and start planting, even with the heat. Be sure to take water out, both for you and for the seedlings, and get ready to get the crops into the ground.
We’re going to be planting some of just about everything, from beets and other root veggies to corn and melons and with last night’s frost warning likely the last we’ll see til late September, it’s time to make hay while the sun shines and get underway. We’ll have a map for everyone to see in the coming weeks.
Got a question about your own situation? Either ask us in the comments section below, or don’t be afraid to email tom at we love dc dot com. We’re glad to answer your question! If we don’t know, we’ll go find a master gardener to ask. Happy Planting, and may the rain fall softly on your garden.