Vail Daily Landscape Logic column: Getting the veggie season off the ground
Growing your own veggies that can go from the garden to the table in a matter of minutes is not a fad but an ever-increasing trend. Even restaurants are establishing their own gardens to give their customers the freshest flavors possible.
Soon will be the time to get those tasty crops growing with cool season veggies lettuce, carrots, radishes and spinach. And once they are harvested, the growing space can be replanted with warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, etc.
But before you plant, give some thought to the soil. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the veggie patch, it’s time to dig in — and quite literally.
Experienced gardeners know that the quality of veggies you get out of the ground is directly related to what you put in it. Everything that happens down in that dirt is what makes plants grow — or not!
CHECK OUT YOUR SOIL
If you don’t know the kind of soil you have, then your growing efforts may not bring the best results. Having low organic matter in the range of less than 1 percent is typical in Colorado. In order to get soil to the desired range of 3 to 5 per cent organic matter, you will most likely need to amend the soil.
Before adding amendments, however, consider having the soil tested to learn what you really need to add. A soil test (available from Colorado State University for less than $50) gives important information about the ph level of the soil, salt content, amount of organic matter and the content of several minerals such as nitrogen. Local garden centers may also have soil testing kits.
The CSU soil test kit tells how to submit the soil sample. Results arrive in a few weeks, and you don’t have to be a scientist to understand them. When you know what your soil needs, you can go about adding it. When amendments and compost are added, till the soil well by hand digging or using a rototiller.
RAISED BEDS REDUCE THE WORK
Creating raised beds is an effective way to designate a space for veggies and herbs and can be labor saving. These beds can be filled at the start with good planting soil and that takes out the steps of testing the soil, finding the right amendments and tilling them in. Landscape pros and garden centers can help you get a quality planting mix.
The same principle applies to growing herbs and veggies in containers which can often be placed closer to the kitchen than other beds. Taking just a few steps outside to snip some herbs keeps food prep moving faster than a trek to the back of the yard.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.