Part of the River Valley Area Community Gardens mission / goals is to provide educational opportunities to both our Gardeners and the community at large.
Our first opportunity for the 2022 growing season occurred on May 7 as Doug Rouse presented a demonstration of planting a vegetable garden. He shared many tips and gave practical advice as well as answered lots of questions from the gardeners.
Doug talked about both tilling and no-till gardening.
He demonstrated some of the techniques that he uses at the RVACG to plant both his plots and the Food Pantry plots that he manages.
He demonstrated a "quadruple dibble stick" which he had constructed. The dibble stick, a simple stick slightly larger than a seed, is used to poke holes in the soil to plant seeds. Doug wanted to do it faster so he attached 4 pointed ends to a scrap piece of 2 x 4 board.
Doug also talked about watering plants. He shared how he installs a drip irrigation system to get water directly to the roots of the plants rather than watering from the top down which my cause diseases and encourage pests if plants get too wet. It's important to know your soil type because different soils require different watering requirements. Sandy soils in hot weather require more than loam or clay soils. Doug demonstrated hooking drip strips to the irrigation header
One of the big crops grown in the Food Pantry plots is potatoes. Doug demonstrated using a potato planter. He talked about why it is advantagous to plant potatoes in hills to draw the water away from the tubers so they don't rot if the soil retains a lot of water. He talked about the importance of using seed potatoes instead of leftover potatoes from the supermarket as a means of preventing disease in the potato crop.
Most everyone likes carrots but it is hard to control the planting of the tiny seeds. Once the seedlings emerge, they have to be thinned to allow room for the carrots to grow. Doug demonstrated a device that he constructed to make planting tiny carrot seeds easier. He cut a piece of pvc pipe in half lengthwise. He spreads the carrot seeds out along the pipe. When the seeds are where he wants them, he carefully and gently flips the pipe upside down in the row that he has prepared for the carrots. Doug also said the seeds could be spread out over a damp paper towel or strong toilet paper. Paper should be folded over the seeds. Then the paper could be laid in the ground and covered.
Doug also talked about a device he constructed to plant seeds without having to crawl on the ground or bend over. He constructed the device out of a piece of pvc pipe and a common funnel. Prepare your row and drop the seed in the device to plant it. Then cover the seeds with dirt. He said that if the device was just poked into the ground without preparing a row, the pipe would plug up with dirt.
Mulching is important in a garden because it is a weed control and also shades the soil to prevent moisture from evaporating into the atmosphere. Weeds pull moisture and nutrients away from the veggie or flower plants causing them to be less productive. Doug demonstrated laying either multi-layed newspaper or cardboard covered with straw or marsh hay between the rows. It saves a lot of work weeding and the gardens require less water. As the materials decompose, they add nutrients back into the soil.
Doug also demonstrated the proper hoeing technique for weeding if someone wanted to manage weeds manually.
Doug answered some questions about pest and disease control. If you missed the planting tips demonstration this year, Doug will do it again next season.
Doug will do at least one Disease and Pest Garden Walk later in the season to identify problems and give advice on how to prevent or control pests and diseases on plants. The dates have yet to be determined. Watch the local media sources for an announcement. Check our events calendar on our website. Check our Facebook page for event dates.
Thank you to Doug for doing the demonstration. Thank you to those who attended and asked such wonderful questions.