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Garden Planning

Garden Planning Chaos

Life is fast paced! If you are like me, you constantly struggle with planning your life and your garden in a truly useful and actionable way. I’ve tried an electronic planner, a paper planner, paper and e-calendars, charts on the wall, sticky notes randomly placed about the house and car, and even just winging it. Despite my best efforts…barely controlled chaos is pretty much still the order of the day. The planner search continues….

A Planner for the Garden

I like to use an undated planner so that I can begin using it at any time. I usually use the label set to customize the divider tabs and create my own perfect layout.

Garden Planner Elements I look For

  • Set garden goals for the year.
  • Track milestones like prepare soil, order seeds, order canning supplies, and start seedlings in the important dates section.
  • Set targets for monthly goals so I know when to start seeds, stake plants or to expect a harvest.
  • The project planning features are usually suited to planning out the garden milestones.
  • Link my planned harvests to weekly meal plans.
  • Track my garden budget, including what I saved by growing something myself, like a bountiful harvest of tomatoes that I turn into tomato sauce for the year.
  • Note frost dates, harvest dates, sun angle on specific dates, and anything else I decide to record and revisit during the winter months to fuel garden dreams and plan my next gardening season.

Organizing My Whole Life!

Any planner can be used for more than a garden of course. I like this planner a lot, even though it is not specifically for gardens – it’s a “whole-life organizing system”! What I like most about this deal is that I get a lot of extras. Check it out here:  Living Well Planner

Click the image to enter a draw for a FREE Living Well Planner, compliments of Growing My Dinner!!

Click here to subscribe and enter the draw!

Some Other Really Nice Garden Planners

Of course there are many planners and journals out there! If this one doesn’t inspire you, maybe you can find something more suitable here.

     

So how do you tackle planning your garden? Leave me a reply, and let’s share ideas!

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Healing & Regrowth

Aftermath

Spring 2018. After breaking my leg in January 2017, and not being able to garden at all in 2017 – I couldn’t even walk to the hoop house or rake the yard – I am looking forward to this summer. Believe it or not, I’m still on the mend, eager to finish my healing out in the sunshine, breathing the rich scent of the earth and listening to the cheerful, busy birds as they also make the most of the warm weather.

I have not even started my own seeds and in fact, will likely focus on getting things back in order this year – healing the garden too. There is pruning to do. I want to try again to root some cuttings from the heritage apples – this was my only project in 2017 but it didn’t work, no rooted cuttings.

And my blog has been languishing as a struggled to get back into my life. But every spring we get a chance to start over in our gardens. My blog is like a garden, and it is now leaving a winter and embracing life again!

Healing The Hoop House

In the big wind storm we had a week or two ago, the hoop house took some damage. In the ice storm before that, the wind removed the outer layer of plastic (and folded it up pretty neatly along the hoop house edge!) so it was down to the inner layer which is about 6 years old. It was left in tatters after the storm so we removed it. When we were putting the outer layer back on the wind caught it and lifted us off the ground! Somehow, two puny humans battled that 50 foot long parasail up and over the hoop house. It was pretty exciting but hard to video while I was flying lol.

I couldn’t believe how many weeds got into that structure in just one summer. The floor has landscape fabric and a thick layer of bark chips. This shouldn’t have happened! So this is project number one this summer – healing my hoop house.

Projects:

Reclaim hoop house
Try again to root apple tree cuttings
Enjoy the garden

Heirloom Apple Blossoms Photo

New Apples From Old!

Heirloom Apple Blossoms Photo

Gnarled Old Apple Trees

I love my gnarled old apple trees. They were already old when I moved to my farm, and now they have a couple more decades on them. My first reaction was to prune the heck out of them, but they did not like that at all and pouted for a couple years. They spent their energy on growing literally thousands of new, kind of weak branches, and no apples. Afraid I had almost killed them with kindness, I vowed to leave them alone and just accept any apples they decided to grace me with.

It worked, and after a few years they began producing again. The apples are different types, and I get them from July to October! Now, I don’t do much pruning (yay!!) but that means I mostly get apples on the outside of the trees only, because the growth is so thick in the centre.  One tree died off, and I started to think about how I could preserve these wonderful trees.

Holding On To The Heirlooms

Last fall I gathered a bunch of seeds while making applesauce. I’m very excited to try and start them! Apples don’t produce the same tree as the parent when grown from seed. While it is an exciting chance to discover the next great apple variety, it doesn’t help me hold onto these heirlooms.

Air Layering

Next idea: air layering some branches to start new trees from the old. This is my special project for 2017! Check back for updates on my progress with this garden project.

Heirloom Apple Trees photo

 

Chlorine is not just for the pool

Chlorine is present in our environment today often at levels considered a contaminant. However, it is essential for plant to open and close its stomates, or pores, and for electrical activity within cells. It is quite important to setting fruit and overall plant growth.

Deficiency can be suspected if you see yellow leaves that subsequently die and fall off, accompnied by a complete lack of fruit set and overall stunted growth. It is supplied naturally by the atmosphere, which moves it from the oceans to water around the world as rain and snow. Because the concentration of chlorine in the rain and snow is variable there is a remote possibility to have a deficient soil.

To correct a deficiency
  • add Bromine to the soil, which can support plant use of Chlorine

Chlorine can build up in the soil like any salt. Too much can show as burned leaf margins and tips, bronzed leaves that turn yellow and fall off.

To offset an excess
  • by leaching with salt free water
  • increasing the sand content of soil to facilitate the movement of water
  • planting plants that use high amounts of chlorine, such as tomatoes

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Nitrogen and why you should care about it

Nitrogen is most important in plants for vegetative growth and chlorophyll production, which of course is what makes plants green.

 

If the older leaves are thin, small and pale, and the plant develops very woody stems then the plant may require nitrogen. Left uncorrected, the problem spreads to the fruit which becomes spiny, deformed and short.

    To correct a nitrogen deficiency

  • add composted manure
  • plant with peas and beans to fix nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere

 

Small yellowish spots on the leaves that get bigger until only the leaf veins are left green may indicate too much nitrogen present. In this case you will see initially see thick strong stems with rich green curled leaves that grow closely spaced on them, along with many side shoots and tendrils.

    Too much nitrogen can be corrected by

  • heavy irrigation
  • keeping the plants cool in order to reduce transpiration
  • plant heavy feeding plants like lettuce

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Zinc is important

Zinc is present in several plant enzymes and is required in photosynthesis.

Zinc deficiency can arise when the soil pH is too high and adversely affects zinc uptake. High phosphorous or calcium levels can impact uptake as well as copper, magnesium, manganese and iron. Deficiency symptoms begin on the lowest leaves and are subtle. There will be slightly paler areas between the veins that become worse over time while veins remain green, the space between where leaves come out of the stem is shortened up and leaves become small.

To correct a deficiency
  • Spraying with zinc sulphates can correct a zinc deficiency

Too much zinc can happen from multiple causes including proximity to mines or smelters, runoff water from galvanized building frames and contamination of water from galvanized pipes. Plants in soil with too much of this nutrient will have a very deep dark green vein colour that will eventually become blackened. Young leaves will develop yellow-green colour between the veins, which later turn completely yellow. Growth is stunted then stops, and yellow leaves develop dead patches and fall off. Too much of this nutrient is difficult to correct.

To offset an excess
  • adding lime
  • adding phosphorous

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

 

Boron sounds boring, but your plants will love it

Boron is required by plants for cell division and formation of the plant’s growing points, also called grower’s tips. It is best if it is continuously supplied.

Deficiency of boron can be seen in the oldest leaves on the lower half of the plant becoming brittle and yellowed, and the grower’s tips dying back. Older leaves will be cupped upwards and stiff. Young leaves will be malformed and have prominent veins. Fruits are shortened and have cracks in their skins. Roots will have enlarged tips and will be black. Symptoms will appear around the first harvest.

To correct a deficiency of Boron
  • raise the ratio of organic matter to sand
  • lower the soil pH by adding Sulfur
  • add borax to the soil

Too much boron will show up in the oldest leaves with them cupping downwards and turning yellow and eventually expanding into dead spots between veins. The leaves can also become more circular shaped. If this condition is not corrected then the plant’s growth will be stunted with very few female flowers developing.

To offset excessive Boron
  • Heavy leaching can be used to remove some boron
  • add lime if the soil is acidic

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Copper pennies may be gone in Canada

Copper is necessary for photosynthesis and respiration.

Plants that are deficient in this nutrient will have yellow faded blotches that later turn a bronze or dull colour between veins on the oldest leaves, and later on the whole plant. The leaves will be small and the plant will be dwarfed. Flowers and buds decrease and fruits are poorly developed and are marred by sunken brown areas on their skin. Deficiency is mainly seen if there is too much peat in the soil, due to high pH reducing availability.

To correct a deficiency
  • Copper sulfate can be added to correct a deficiency but extreme care should be taken as too much copper can make the soil unfit for vegetable cultivation

Toxicity can result from using sprays of some fungicides, or even from plumbing used in the growing system.

To offset excessive Copper
  • Heavy liming can help remove some copper toxicity

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

Manganese sounds exotic, doesn’t it?

Manganese is required in very small quantities, found in enzymes used in photosynthesis and in the production of a plant hormone called auxin. Plants use this nutrient to remove hydrogen peroxide from within cells.

Iron toxicity can indicate manganese deficiency, which will show on new growth with the leaf margins becoming paler to yellow with the veins remaining green, with dead or dying lesions spotted across them. Distinctive sunken white areas start to appear.

To correct a deficiency
  • ensuring there is not an excess of iron

Toxicity will show up on the older leaves first, which will have pale green/yellow areas between the veins which turn red-brown. Purple spots can be seen on the petioles, stems and the leaf underside veins. Excessive manganese can cause iron deficiency.

To offset excessive Manganese
  • foliar sprays of manganese sulfate
  • ensure pH levels are not too high

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.

 

 

Iron makes plants strong

Iron is required for photosynthesis, but in minute quantities, and helps move energy within the plant through respiration and metabolism. It can be found within enzymes and proteins and is used for nitrogen fixation. It is especially important to celery, cabbage, beets, alfalfa, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, soy, barley, sorghum, spinach, tomatoes and strawberries, rye grass, oats and Brussels sprouts.

Iron deficiency will show up on the leaves, which will develop yellow-green colour between the veins, which later turn completely yellow. Growth is stunted then stops, and yellow leaves develop dead patches and fall off. Deficiency in the soil is often a result of not enough gases in the soil and too much water that sits around the roots, and/or high concentration of colloidal particles, or compacted soil. Iron deficiency can also be caused by too much manganese, as well as poor root growth. Phosphorous deficiency could cause the root growth problem, in turn causing the iron deficiency.

To correct a deficiency
  • cultivating the soil to aerate it
  • digging in organic matter like compost or renewable peat moss to provide soil structure to enhance air spaces, moisture absorption and retention capability

Note: to allay any oncerns around using peat moss, check out this link

Too much iron in the soil can cause manganese deficiency. Toxicity is often connected to low pH or a zinc deficiency or high levels of molybdenum.

To offset an excess of iron
  • increasing potassium which will increase zinc content
  • raise pH by applying dolomitic limestone, which will also add magnesium and calcium

Soil testing is an important activity for a successful garden. Soil stewardship is an ongoing process, where you test and amend, grow some stuff, then test, amend and grow some stuff….and so on. Focus on building soil tilth so it can really hold and make available to the plants all the important nutrients. You do this in part by adding compost, manure, rock dust, bone meal, kelp & fish emulsions. Read this article series to learn more about each of the 13 key nutrients for your garden.