Friday, February 25, 2011

Get Ready at Garden Symposium

Get growing ideas at the Urban Farmers and Vegetable Gardeners Symposium scheduled for Saturday March 12 on the Auraria campus in Denver. The day includes presentations on specialty vegetable and fruit growing topics presented by the author of this blog, Carl Wilson, other CSU Extension personnel and Feed Denver instructors. You can choose six classes during the day from eighteen classes available as outlined below. For more information and to register, visit the Feed Denver website.

Connecting with Tasty Small Fruit - Joel Reich
Vegetable Seed Starting Secrets - Patti O'Neal
Sustaining Yourself in Changing Times - Kate Armstrong

Hear The Buzz - Bees and the Edible Garden - Beth Conrey
Lessons from the Vegetable Garden - Carl Wilson
Coming into Community through Urban Food - Kate Armstrong

Fruit Trees that Earn their Keep on the Front Range - Carol O'Meara
Tips and Tricks for Tomato Growing - Patti O'Neal
Urban Gleaning, Gathering and Foraging - Kate Armstrong

The Living is Easy Summertime Vegetables - Carol O'Meara
Troubleshooting Insects in the Vegetable Garden - Mary Small
Farming for Climate Change - Ariel Chesnutt

Vegetables are Cool in Spring and Fall - Carl Wilson
Healthy Soil makes the Vegetable Garden - Jean Reeder
Planting for Your Family's Food Needs - Sarah Marcogliese

Vegetable Garden Pests: More than Insects - Mary Small
Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces - Cathy Jo Clawson
Food not Lawns - Ariel Chesnutt

* Presented by: Colorado State University Extension, Feed Denver Urban Farms & Markets, Compost Auraria

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Soil testing a good idea

Now that the latest snow has melted, it's a good time to collect and submit soil for testing ahead of spring soil preparation and planting. Do be sure to air dry soil first before shipment.

I've seen both extremes over the years - too little fertility to produce good vegetables and over-fertilization that causes problems. Nationally studies show over-fertilzation is more of a problem in home gardens.

Excess nitrogen applied to tomatoes, squash and other "fruiting" vegetables produces luxuriant leaf growth and few fruit. With root crops such as carrot, turnips and parsnips you will see many leaves and small roots. Little nitrogen when corn tassels produces poor ear production.

Excess phosphorus tends to interfere with vegetables' ability to absorb iron and other micronutrients. The excess shuts down the roots production of phytochelates, organic molecules that increase iron uptake.

You can see that a general broadcast of a 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer without knowing where you stand on fertility is likely a poor idea.

Sample prior to adding compost or fertilizer and send to the Soil Testing Lab at Colorado State University or another analytical lab for analysis. The soil test results will inform you about whether compost should be added and what type. For example a salt-affected soil with low organic matter will require low-salt compost (often plant-based and not containing manure).

Testing your soil on a three to four year cycle is usually enough to do a good job of managing the fertility and organic matter in Colorado soils. For more information check the Colorado State University Extension fact sheet Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden.

Photo credit: Collecting soil sample - Carl Wilson