Begin making your plans for spring vegetable garden today

Published 12:52 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

With an abnormally wet February behind us, many of you may be wondering what weather lies ahead in the coming weeks and months. The National Weather Service is continuing to predict a warmer and drier than normal Spring with a normal Summer. If this is true and it probably is, you can plan on one certainty, if you garden you will have to irrigate. This is something you should begin preparing for now. Along with this below are some more thoughts and ideas to consider if you intend to have a spring vegetable garden.

Q. What is the best way to irrigate larger vegetable gardens?

I am not sure what determines a large garden but one thing is for sure, in dry conditions plants don’t care how the water is put into the soil. So any system you use is adequate. For small container gardens hand watering is most convenient and probably more time efficient, but for larger gardens soaker hoses, drip irrigations, or sprinklers may be better suited, it is really personal preference. Keep in mind plants need about an inch of water per acre in a week. This is 27,000 gallons per acre per week you will be applying, and paying for. So in one dry month if you irrigate an acre a week for four weeks you are using over 100,000 gallons for a month where it doesn’t rain. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. Therefore if you divide, it takes .62 gallons of water to irrigate one square foot one inch. Figure the approximate size of your garden and multiply by .62 to get the numbers of gallons needed per week. Then find out how long it takes you hose to fill up a gallon milk jug and you will know how long to let the water run.

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Q. Where is the best place to purchase organic vegetable plants?

Good news for gardeners who like to use organic practices. The Ferry Morse Company is distributing racks of certified organic vegetable seed in garden sized envelopes to retailers this Spring, I am not exactly sure where they are in Natchez. However, seeds that are certified organic come from plants raised by organic means. They are both open pollinated and hybrid varieties of tomatoes, beans, corn, lettuce and many other vegetables that used to be available only through mail order. Unfortunately if you are one of the super gardeners growing larger gardens you will probably want to continue using the normal source since these packets are in small quantities.

Q. When is the best time to amend the soil with additives?

Whenever you amend the soil it takes time for the soil to begin benefiting from these additions. So if you intend to add organic material (peat moss, composted leaves, composted manure, or old sawdust) or other soil additives to your garden for spring you may consider beginning soon. Add a 2-4 inch layer of selected material on top of all your beds or rows and work it into the soil with a tiller, plow, or hand tool, then time does the work for you.

David Carter is director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.