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How to Grow Spinach

Spinach Growing Guide

 Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables you can grow. It’s packed with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, various B-complex vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients, all in a leaf that tastes delicious in sandwiches, salads, and as a cooked side. Spinach loves cool weather, making it a garden favorite for early spring and late fall.

When to Sow: Early spring, or fall before ground freezes

Sun/Part Shade: Part shade

Seed Spacing: 1 inch

Row Spacing: 12-18 inches

Planting Depth: 1/4 inch

Days to Germinate: 7-21 days

Days to Maturity: 43-60 days

Soil

It’s best to have your soil tested before planting, so you know what nutrients and pH adjustments may be needed to support your crop. For a thorough soil test, consult your local county extension office.

Spinach favors loamy, fertile soil with a loose texture and a high percentage of organic matter (compost works well), with a pH of 5.5-6.8.

Planting

Air temperatures of 50-70° F, with soil temperatures between 35 and 45° F, make the best conditions for spinach. If the temperature rises above 80˚ or the days get longer than 14 hours, spinach will bolt (flower) and become bitter.

Sow spinach seeds directly in the garden, as spinach doesn’t take to transplanting. You can still get an early start in spring, however, by planting up to eight weeks before the last frost. Late September to mid-October are the best times for fall sowing, possibly even a bit later in the deep South.

A place where the plants are shaded during the hottest part of the day is ideal. If you grow spinach in containers, be sure to move them into the shade as necessary.

When you thin your spinach seedlings, keep the culled plants. The tender leaves are tasty in salads.

Watering

Give your plants about one inch of water once a week if you don’t get enough rain. Be sure not to overwater, or you may run into problems with disease. A layer of mulch around the plants will help them conserve water.

 Harvesting & Storing

Mature spinach presents a rosette of 5-6 leaves. Unlike plants like collards or turnips, however, the leaves will not grow back when you pick them, so harvest the entire plant at once.

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For soil testing or other questions specific to your growing climate, please contact your local county extension office. Visit https://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map to find the office nearest you.

 

 

 

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Hardening off you Seedlings

How to Harden off Seedlings

You’ve started your seeds indoors and you’ve awaited their germination and now they are growing into strong independent seedlings! The weather is starting to warm up and your thinking your little babies maybe ready to flee the nest! Now lets not get to hasty, were not just going to dump our seedlings to the garden and tell them to fend for themselves!

We need to harden them off first.

Hardening your plants off sounds a little harsh but this is just the process of getting your little indoor seedlings ready to make the transition to the great outdoors.

All seedlings need to spend a week or so outside before being transplanted into the garden. Even if you didn’t plant your transplants from seed and you bought them from a garden center or nursery I would still use this hardening process. About 7-10 days before planting your seedlings into the garden begin adapting them to outside conditions.

I start slow and gradually build each day. Start by placing your seedlings outside in the afternoon for a few hours in partial shade and are protected from the wind. This should happen for two to three days. As the seedlings get more acclimated to the new climate you can keep adding hours and more direct sunlight to them. By the last two days your seedlings should be spending all day and night outdoors. Remember to look at the weather during this time.

Once your seedlings are hardened off they are ready to be transplanted into the garden!

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What you need to know about Strawberries

Strawberries (Everbearing) Growing Guide

Strawberries are a sweet treat in the garden, and it’s no surprise that they’re the most widely grown fruit in the world. Strawberries thrive from tropical to subarctic climates, are easy to grow, and tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Everbearing varieties, like our Albion, Ozark, and Seascape, typically bear fruit in summer and fall.

  •  When to Sow: As soon as soil can be worked
  • Sun/Part Shade: Full Sun
  • Root Spacing: 18 inches
  • Row Spacing: 2 feet
  • Planting Depth: 7-37 Days
  • Days to Maturity: 90-120 Days

Soil and Fertilizing

Strawberries like deep, well-drained sandy loams. They don’t tolerate extremes in pH well, with the ideal pH being slightly acidic at 5.8-6.2. Have your soil tested before planting, using a home tester or asking your local county extension to do it for you.

About 6 weeks after planting, apply two pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly over the growing area, avoiding direct contact with the foliage. Add two pounds again after renovating in July.

Planting and Growing

Everbearing strawberries can be grown in-ground, and also in containers and raised beds.

First Year

*Before transplanting, soak the roots for two hours to rehydrate them.

*Dig a hole deep enough so the roots extend vertically and are not bent.

*Cover the plants with soil just below the crown (where the plant top meets the roots). The crown should be at soil surface, not buried.

*Avoid planting strawberries in an area where they were recently grown, or where crops in the tomato family (including eggplants, potatoes, and peppers) have grown, as they may carry a root fungus.

Next Few Years

*If you carefully cover your strawberry plants with straw or mulch, they will overwinter and come back the next year in most climates.

*You can also start fresh with new, disease-free planting stock.

*If growing in containers, replace the growth medium with fresh sterile medium, and replant with new plants.

Thinning

Remove all blossoms 6-8 weeks after planting to improve yields. Clip off runners to keep the plants from getting too crowded.

Watering

Strawberries are shallow rooted. Water often, but keep the plants well-drained.

Harvesting

*To pick strawberries, cradle the fruit in your hand, pinch the stem between thumb and forefinger, and pull. Pick the caps along with the fruit.

 

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Soil Testing

Testing your soil

The first and most important thing you can do for your garden is to start with a soil test. I test my soil with a at home kit every spring. Your soil nutrients can change from year to year. I prefer to just use an at home soil test but you can also get a soil sample and send it to a lab or your local extension agent.

To get an accurate soil test you will need to take 8-12 soil samples with a shovel digging from a range of one inch to twelve inches deep. Making sure each soil sample is in a different area of your garden. Dump these samples into a bucket and mix.  Some helpful tips to remember when taking a soil sample.

  1. Follow the test lab or at home test kit instructions.
  2. Take samples before working the soil.
  3. Use a clean shovel or trowel and wear clean gloves so you do not contaminate the test results.
  4. Soil samples should not be to wet or to dry.
  5. When using the at home soil test use distilled water.
  6. Do not take any soil samples if you have fertilized, wait for about 2 weeks.

The results are in! What do you do with them now?

At home soil tests give the values of your soil nutrients for your pH, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.

Nitrogen:

Low on N: Yellowish and light green foliage, stunted growth.

Sources for N: bonemeal, fish, chicken, and steer manure.

Phosphorus

Low on P: Leaves look dark green or have a reddish purple tint to them.

Sources for P: rock phosphate, fish bone meal, chicken manure

Potassium

Low on K: small fruits, older leave may wilt or look scorched on the tips.

Sources for K: seaweed, greensand, wood ashes

Calcium

Low on Ca: Leaves on the top of the plant are distorted, also causes blossom rot.

Sources for Ca: oyster shells, gypsum, limestone

Magnesium

Low on Mg: Older leaves turn yellow on their edges, yield can be down.

Sources for Mg: Epsom salts, dolomite