The White House Garden Model: Part Two: Soil Preparation – Since I am an organic gardener I thought to choose the White House model vegetable garden from 30 years back in time. My reasoning is that little has changed for a conventional row type, chemical fed and herbicide treated garden plot. Within this 15 foot X 25 foot space the Gardeners of that time planted the following.
|Vegetable Plant(s)||Row Space||N-P-K|
Six Cucumber plants on a trellis producing 60 cucumbers
Spaced at 2′
*Cauliflower: 5-10-5; Brussel Sprouts: 5-10-10
The actual yields are unknown. These were the estimated yields. Compare these yields with current grocery store prices-see how much you save.
Part 1 of this topic demonstrated the importance of pH soil testing, and adjustments with Dolomite Limestone and/or Sulfur. This application is for any gardening of any type, and includes organic gardening; your pH meter will come with printed recommended pH levels for hundreds of plants.
Our next step is to measure out bagged Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash (N-P-K) commercial fertilizers sold in 40 lb. Bags. The chemicals NPK are affixed to a salt solution corncob fragments. There is over a hundred other minor nutrients that plants may take up-if available-in the soil for optimum growth. In this locale you will have to add supplements to achieve this standard. We will include this area of interest in subsequent discussions about organics.
We will continue with the White House Model.
You can surmise from the NPK list of fertilizer ideals that the individual plant desires specific major nutrients. Row gardeners can broadcast a general fertilizer such as 5-10-10, or 8-8-8, or 10-10-10, and till it in, and hope for the better. Of course this stimulates weed growth too. The better way would be to side dress with the pellet fertilizer by making a small furrow along side the row close to the plants and dribble grains of the pellet mix in the furrow, then cover. When the plant flowers and produces fruits, such as the tomato, you can repeat as the plant will be demanding more energy. Unfortunately you have three problems.
- if you are double cropping, as with the broccoli and the cauliflower, you can see the boost in Nitrogen approaching 15%, plus peas also produce Nitrogen. Following this model into an acre planting to make a living would be risky, probably producing spindly plants.
- Another disadvantage is the overall accumulation of different ‘rows’, or bands of high and low fertilizer values in the garden plots for next year, and trying to soil test for fertilizer values to establish an average.
- Lastly you could foliar feed by spraying the proper fertilizer on the plants in the row, this being the better choice, but risky if you are not familiar with mixing fertilizer values in a water solution. Try your search engine: Liquid Foliar Fertilizers. Different manufacturers will be recommending their own NPK ratios. One advantage is the growing ‘organic’ preparations, but these too are incomplete.
Row gardens, although producing, are really an offshoot of the horse and plow, followed by the tractor and implements with spacing to let the entire machinery wheels roll down the open spaces. Think about how much of this garden space is wasted in this wheel space. Think about how much water is wasted in this wheel space. Think about how much fertilizer that is broadcast is wasted in these wheel spaces. Think about how much more labor you do weeding. Think about throwing your hoe away for a new design that encourages you to actually enjoy gardening as if you were in an Eden.
Our future articles will take you into Mother Nature’s natural Eden to understand a complete cycle of growing organic healthful vegetables, herbs and flowers, living mulches, proper water saving techniques, companion planting and pest control.
Dear Readers at this point have ordered their garden catalogs and are interested in starting their own seeds. Next week we shall interject how to get started growing your own choice of seeds into starter plants to set out in your garden. We are doing this now, as the end of February is the time to get started for your two-crop year. Then we shall continue with Mother Nature.
Copyright: 2008 Back2theLand: Mark Steel