From grass to greens final


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2013 MGGNO Spring Symposium

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From grass to greens final

  1. 1. From Grass to Greens: RaisedBeds and In-Ground Planting Carl E. Motsenbocker, PhD LSU / LSU AgCenter
  2. 2. Top Ten Reasons to Garden• Safe, healthy food (avoid pesticides, contaminated food, preservatives and additives)• Exercise (1 hr. burns 300 calories for women and 400 calories for men)• Add beauty• Learn• Make money (business selling flowers or food at farmers’ market, urban market gardens, or job in landscaping/nursery)• Meet people (garden clubs, community gardens)• Be creative – artistry….• To win (4H, county livestock/gardening competitions; gardening club best in show)• Emotional needs and spiritual connection• Memories….
  3. 3. Environmental Working Group Pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 60,700 samples taken by the USDA (2000 to 2010) Most tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled. Grow: celery, strawberries, spinach, grapes, bell peppers, Irish potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale and collard greens
  4. 4. “The health benefits of adiet rich in fruits andvegetables outweigh therisks of pesticideexposure. Eatingconventionally grownproduce is far better thanskipping fruits andvegetables.” EWG
  5. 5. VegetablesHerbsFruitsFlowers
  6. 6. Topics for Today -a recipe for homegrown vegetables….Key Ingredients•Garden Site – – Sunlight, Water, Weed-free soil, Compost / OM, Labor, Planning•Garden Bed Systems – traditional vs. raised•Bed Materials•Mulching•Weed Management
  7. 7. • Finding the Right Site• Sunlight: 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. – Take note of the location of the sun throughout day by visiting the garden area at different times during the day (different seasons….) – Vegetables perform best when they receive full sun all day long.
  8. 8. Garden Site– Few vegetables tolerate a little shade.– When possible, plant your garden where it will receive southern or southeastern exposure. It will warm up faster in the spring and receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the growing season. Summer vs. winter– Issues of shade from fencing? planting and shade / heat
  9. 9. Garden Site• Trees – Trees are one of the garden’s adversaries….. – Trees not only shade the plants, but their roots invade the beds, competing for valuable nutrients and moisture.
  10. 10. Garden Site• Local conditions – Conditions in the south can change from swamplike to desert like in a matter of weeks. – A garden location should drain well and simultaneously be able to hold moisture well.
  11. 11. Vegetables That Tolerate Some ShadeAsparagus Kale SpinachCabbage Lettuce Swiss chard Celery Parsley Turnips Carrots Radishes
  12. 12. • Finding the Right Site• Easy water access• Accessible and visible – Should be easy to get to and convenient to visit – Should be easy to get resources to garden (soil, tools, plants, water etc.
  13. 13. WateringA crop needs on average one inch of rain perweek.
  14. 14. Watering• ♦Newly-planted seeds need to be watered daily until they sprout. After establishment, watering can be 2 to 3 x per week depending on season.• Watering deeply but less frequently helps plants develop a stronger root structure by encouraging them to grow downward into the soil, instead of spreading out just below the surface.• Water in the am or evening to prevent rapid evaporation. With watering in the morning the foliage dries decreasing potential for disease.• Plants take up water through the tips of their roots so water around the plant.
  15. 15. • Water collection and distribution.
  16. 16. Flood oroverheadsprinkler Trickle irrigation
  17. 17. • Garden SiteFertile Soil • Working the soil. • Adding the proper amendments. • Using in-ground or raised garden beds.Consider the history of site – industry?Heavy metal contamination?
  18. 18. Soil Management• Basis of farm and garden productivity and therefore the cornerstone of any ecologically sound approach to farming/gardening. Soils!!!
  19. 19. Most soils are lowin organic matter
  20. 20. Understanding the soil system• Soil fertility - soil capacity to nurture healthy plants. Organic / sustainable agriculture aims to protect the soil’s ability to regenerate nutrients lost when crops are harvested.• Regeneration depends on diversity, health, and vitality of the organisms that live, grow, reproduce and die in the soil.• Activities of soil microbes makes available the basic raw materials needed by plants at the right time and in the right form and amount.• The organisms involved: bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoans, nematodes, mites, earthworms.
  21. 21. • Best: soil testing- pH, nutrients. (Send a sample to a university or university extension service)• LSU Ag Center Cooperative Extension Service
  22. 22. Feeding the soil• Adding minerals and organic matter can turn an infertile soil into a fertile soil in a cumulative process.• Two sources of nutrients for the soil - organic matter (remains of previously living organisms) and finely ground rock particles that is the mineral fraction of the soil.• Nutrients are made available through biological and chemical processes.
  23. 23. Organic matter• Vegetables require the richest soils of all farm crops for best quality and growth.• Organic matter is key to the soil - foundation for the microbiological life of the soil.
  24. 24. Compost• Well made compost has been shown to have plant growing benefits such as nutrients as well as “suppression of plant diseases and increasing plant resistance to stress”.
  25. 25. GARDEN SITEOther considerations:•Check the slope of your garden to ensure equal drainage (areaswhere water collects…)•Add pathways to maintain your garden. MULCHES•Protect against animals - deer, squirrels, dogs, and rabbits thatcould eat or spoil crops. Humans?•Watch out for noxious plants such as poison ivy and weedssuch as Bermuda Grass.•Beware of buried pipes and lines. Before you dig, call to findout what utility pipes may be buried underground.
  26. 26. Selecting Your Garden Site• Wind – Strong seasonal winds can damage tender plants and reduce yields. – Shrubs, fences and buildings can be used as windbreaks, but care should be taken to avoid shading.
  27. 27. Time and Management• Gardening done well requires time.• Plan and prepare enough space for the amount of time that you can devote to it.• Remember, a small, well-cared-of garden will give you more enjoyment and vegetables than a large, poorly cared-for garden.
  28. 28. Planning and observation• Planning on paper• What to grow• Layout and crop spacing
  29. 29. Planning and observation• Getting good seed – Johnny’s Selected Seed – Shepard’s Garden Seed – Local hardware stores – Walmart
  30. 30. Garden Bed Systems• Traditional garden rows – Based on farm tractors - planted like small farms, the garden was plowed with straight rows built to grow the vegetables. – Rows are spaced 3 to 6 ft apart • which allows for cultivation with a tiller etc and also the middles/furrows serve as a walkway. – Traditional garden is suited to a large garden, is easy to work and is good for vegetables that require lots of space such as corn, okra, watermelon, cucumbers etc.
  31. 31. Garden beds vs in-ground planting
  32. 32. Garden Bed Systems• Raised-bed or box gardening – This system has many advantages over the traditional garden system. – Higher yields per unit area because more space is used for growing. – It is easier to build up a healthy soil. – Helps to increase drainage in problem soils. – Less soil compaction because walks are used and not furrows. – Raised beds warm faster in the spring, drain well and can be easily covered to help protect against fall/spring freezes or frosts.
  33. 33. Garden Bed Systems• Raised-bed or box gardening – Beds are usually 3 to 4 feet wide with variable length. – One needs to make sure that there is enough space to get in and out of the garden (walks 18 to 30” or wider).
  34. 34. • Vertical gardening / trellis systems – Many vegetables like tomatoes, pole beans and vine crops grow to very large sizes. – By using a trellis or cage for support, you can grow those vegetables in small spaces. – Large fruited vegetables (watermelon, melon) can be grown on trellises if the fruit are supported.
  35. 35. Garden BedsIn-ground beds Raised beds Pros Cons Pros Cons Low cost More labor Tend to look neater More expensive required at start-up and more contained Can maximize Usually need to Can bring in good May have to gardening space amend the soil quality soil / replace borders growing media Need to test soil Start up labor is Requires larger and/or know about easier and faster. pathways? Less previous activity Weed control space is available easier? for gardening Weed Can create beds of management? unique shapes/sizes Easier to work for children, elderly, handicapped
  36. 36. Grow Food, Not Lawns (FB)
  37. 37. Garden Layout• Many vegetables need to be planted at a specific time to achieve a successful harvest.• Planting at the wrong time can reduce yield, decrease quality, increase insect and disease problems etc.• It is best to keep in mind the size of a healthy mature plant. Planting too close together - yields are reduced and plants compete for nutrients and light. Must use the optimal spacing for each crop.
  38. 38. When to plant• The date of harvest depends on the date of planting – the timespan depends on the effects of: – daylength, weather, the aspect of the land, the crops grown etc. – Early and late planting: – Succession and greenhouse planting • eg maturity of lettuce is lengthened as planting times go from Sept. to Nov. • Plant more than one time to have a series of harvests
  39. 39. Crop rotation• Changing the mix of crop each year on a given piece of ground.• Best if the crops are not related botanically as successive crops do not make the same demand on soil nutrients as well not having the same pests (disease, insect, weed) complex.
  40. 40. Keys to Successful Organic Gardening• Building the soil• Using finished compost• Using mulch materials for weed control• Using sound horticulture practices• Biological diversity in the garden• Encouraging beneficial insects“Organic Vegetable Gardening” LCES Pub. 2948-A 3/06
  41. 41. Biointensive Gardening • Double-dug, raised beds • Intensive planting • Composting • Companion planting • Whole gardening method The Biointensive gardening method is a whole system and all the components of the method must be used together for the optimum effect.John Jeavons, 1995, How to Grow More Vegetables/
  42. 42. Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing• To calculate how many plants per 1 ft square, look on the back of the seed packet–totally ignore the row spacing, just look at the plant spacing: – 12″ apart, plant 1 per square – 6″ apart, plant 4 per square – 4″ apart, plant 9 per square – 3″ apart (or less), plant 16 per square
  43. 43. Green Manure – Cover Crops• Crop grown due to their benefits to the soil. – Soil organic matter – Help protect against erosion – Retain nutrients – Suppress germination and growth of weeds – Cycle nutrients from the lower soil layers to the upper layer – Legumes - provide N to the following crop
  44. 44. Bed Materials• Medium – soil(s), organic matter, finished compost, ammendments, pH, high C materials?• Bed materials – Non-toxic materials? – Pine – Cedar – Cinder blocks – Treated wood?
  45. 45. Mulching• Mulching bare ground and around plants is THE single most important thing that sustainable/organic gardeners do to create low- maintenance, healthy gardens.• Mulch uncovered soil for weed control, water retention, and to improve the soils structure."the greatest labor-saving gardening product ever invented.“
  46. 46. Benefits of mulches• Suppress weeds• Prevents drying out of soil• Prevents erosion and reduces compaction of soil• Moderates soil temperature• Prevents mud splatter on plants and edible portions• Add nutrients to soil, plus enable the soil to better use soil nutrients from any source• Increases the populations of earthworm and beneficial soil microbes.• Make gardens look well kept and amenable to planting
  47. 47. Types of Mulch• Compost – Very good as soil ammendment, expensive if purchased. – Washes away in heavy rains? – Weeds love it. Should not come with weeds, wind-blown seeds land on it and thrive. – Not very good at weed prevention…• Pine needles – often available cheaply, slow to decompose – May deplete the soil nitrogen. – Make the soil more acidic
  48. 48. Types of Mulch• Sawdust NR – High C:N ratio - drawing nitrogen from soil in the decomposition process.• Cypress mulch NR – needed in fragile wetlands.• Bark NR – is moderately expensive to expensive, slow to break down and good- looking. – High C:N ratio – N depletion when worked in the garden bed• Wood chips or shavings NR – Relatively inexpensive (free?), break down very slowly. – High C:N ratio – N depletion when worked in the garden bed• Permanent Garden Paths?• NR = Not Recommended
  49. 49. Types of Mulch• Leafmold (chopped and aged leaves) – Rarely sold, easy to make, locate locally from municipal governments (along with compost and chopped bark/wood?) – Nutrient-rich and excellent as mulch or a soil amendment.• Leaves – Not attractive? – Shredding first to speed their decomposition and prevent matting.• Hay – Inexpensive and readily available? – Not very attractive? May contain weed seeds. Fire ants love it!• Straw – Inexpensive and readily available? – Not very attractive? More weed-free than hay. – Rob nitrogen from the soil? Generally disappeared in a season.
  50. 50. Cultural Weed Mgt. Strategies• Mulch – organic/plastic• Mechanical – hoeing/cultivation• Crop rotation• Flame weeding• Cover crops• Soil solarization
  51. 51. Cultural Weed Mgt. Strategies (cont.)• Use of transplants• Clean equipment• Avoid weeds in transplants, mulch, manure• Prevent weeds from flowering• Weed early• Crop canopy development
  52. 52. Biological Control of Weeds• Animals (fish, goats, geese, chickens)• Insects (klamath beetle)• Pathogens (strangle weed in citrus)• Corn gluten
  53. 53. LSU Organic Garden Plots• Raised beds: 5 to 6 feet wide, semi- permanent, friable, weed free (?)• 14 years - organic production methods, not certified• Fertility: – green manure cover crops /compost in winter – weekly applications during fall semester class: fish emulsion and/or seaweed extract• Irrigation – manual watering, overhead sprinklers (trickle?)
  54. 54. Pests at Organic Teaching Plots• Insects: • Physical removal • garlic/pepper sprays, Bt, rotenone? • Companion plantings, trap crops, crop diversity • Beneficials (Lady Beetles, Lacewings)
  55. 55. Topics for Today -a recipe for homegrown vegetables….Key Ingredients•Garden Site – – Sunlight, Water, Weed-free soil, Compost / OM, Labor, Planning•Garden Bed Systems – traditional vs. raised•Bed Materials•Mulching•Weed Management
  56. 56. • Join the Good Food Revolution!!• Grow your own…. and know your local farmer…
  57. 57. Comments or Questions?