The weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating, with more cold and snow in the forecast, but the arrival of March still marked the beginning of a new growing season for me. I kicked things off by attending a seed starting workshop, planted my first few flats of vegetable seeds, attended a PASA fruit tree pruning event, and participated in a brainstorming session to promote the development of new community gardens opportunities in Central Pennsylvania.
The first indoor seedlings are already up and most of my early starts are for cold hardy crops like lettuce, broccoli, and kales. I also planted some slow growers such as leeks, onions, and celery, as well as a few heat loving veggies like eggplants and tropical roselles that I want to provide a huge jump on the growing season.
I did not purchase many new seeds this year; instead I plan to focus on planting out my existing seed stocks that were left over from previous growing seasons. For me there are some new goals and plans in store for the new gardening year… starting from the ground up by focusing on the soil!
A Growing Interest for Life in the Soil
A recent “Life in the Soil” workshop that I attended at the Rodale Institute has me looking at the ground in a much different manner. I’ve always been an advocate for things like compost, “feeding the soil rather than feeding plants,” and foliar sprays, but now I recognize that it goes much deeper than I realized.
I’ve become intrigued by the microscopic soil life and critters that are present underground, rather than having a focus on the plant life above ground, where many gardeners think all the action takes place. I’ll keep you posted on how the efforts at improving my soil and the soil life progresses, but if you want to learn more about it yourself pick up a copy of the book “Teaming with Microbes” by Jeff Lowenfels or “Building Soils Naturally” by Phil Nauta.
Raising Up an Army of Worms and Bees
Another item on my to-do list for this season is to crank up the backyard worm composting operation. I still have my Can-O-Worms composting bin but I plan to try out at least one additional vermiculture system with the goal of ramping up my worm castings production and to see if I can keep the red composting worms active and healthy year-round.
I’m also expanding the solitary bees by setting up additional shelters just off of the patio and out in the landscape of the front yard as well. As far as the honeybees are concerned the four hives have survived the winter to this point and if things continue as planned this summer should produce a bumper honey harvest.
Making “Summer Vacation” Plans and Travels
My calender is filling quickly with planned trips that include the Mother Earth News Fair in the fall and an invitation to an event hosted by P. Allen Smith this spring in Little Rock, Arkansas. I mentioned the Rodale Institute earlier, where I made my first visit ever to their farm in Kutztown a few weeks ago and I plan to spend more time there over the summer months.
They have some interesting workshops and events spread throughout the year that will appeal to everyone from the large sustainable farmer to the backyard organic gardener. Rodale Institute is also conducting a variety of research projects on topics ranging from farming and agriculture to nutrition related subjects.
Updates to the Veggie Gardening Tips Website
The Veggie Gardening Tips website hasn’t been as active over the past year, but I’m feeling that itch of inspiration to write more often. I’m not sure yet whether I will revive the Gardening Secrets Newsletter or focus in other directions but either way I will be offering a greater amount of content for you this season. So stay tuned as I sort through possible updates to things like the RSS feed, site design, and the overall blogging platform that I use.
I’m excited that March has arrived, the clocks have sprang forward an hour, and I’m looking ahead to another season out in the garden. We’ve made it thru the winter, now it’s just a short matter of weeks before things really take off and start growing… that is if the weather will finally start cooperating!
Other Plans and Projects Out in the Garden
Let’s see, what else is going on… I’m preparing for another round of mushroom log inoculation, this time it will be a shiitake variety that goes by the classification of WR46, a wide range commercial strain of gourmet shiitake mushroom spawn from Field and Forest.
Other projects that I haven’t posted much about include the progress of my citrus trees, installation and training of the hardy kiwi vines, and the ornamental edible garden beds that now occupy the front yard, with not a single complaint from the neighbors.
There’s still snow on the ground and in the forecast, but I’m more than warming up to the idea of getting started on a new growing season!
Anyone else have exciting new plans for their garden this growing season?
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