Here we go!

Spring 2014 is approaching and we’d like to welcome our seasoned rent-a-rowers and our new ones! There’s nothing quite like having a clean start, a clean row, new little seeds with an abundance of growing potential, a hopeful energy to see if you can really be a gardener, and a community of other growers with just enough experience to answer all the questions.

Our first meeting will be February 8th, at 8 a.m. At this introductory meeting we will have for you:

  • Seed catalogs
  • Planting guides
  • Your rows all made and staked with your name, you can actually start working that day.
  • We will go over the basics of the garden and farm…
  • And… you will meet your mentor!

Each of you (including the past rent-a-rowers) will be assigned a seasoned gardener… a mentor. I personally chose these three people, as I’ve seen their rows and know that they have the basics down of what it takes to grow in Florida. All three of them have been gardening on the farm for about 3 years. They’re your ‘Go To’ people for ANY question. We want this season to be productive and fun for you… The more questions you ask and the more you can involve your mentor with each step of the growing process, the more satisfied you’ll be with the outcome.

What can you do to prepare for the first work day? You will soon learn what the most important step of the growing process is… Above all, more important than seeds, than  fertilizer, than spacing and planting techniques… is the health of the soil! If your soil is balanced and textured with all the right stuff, then any seed will grow… and you’ll have fewer pests, less weeds, and higher nutrition in each of your plants. The soil is everything. We test our soil once a year, add the needed supplements, and inch it towards the ideal growing conditions… Its a process that can’t be done in one swoop. You can’t dump ‘stuff’ on the soil and declare that it is now optimal. It doesn’t work that way, so for your first work day, we recommend bringing the following supplies:

  • Three bags of Black Kow ($5 each)
  • Two bags of peat moss ($7 each)
  • One bag of vermiculite ($18 each)
  • A rake from home, if you have one

It will take your first morning to spread your row with these products and prepare your beds. If you can only buy one thing, get a bag of Black Kow. Black Kow is composted cow manure and is an excellent product. The peat moss will help bring down the pH level of the soil… ours is slightly alkaline and you want soil to be between acidic and alkaline. Finally, the vermiculite is to aerate the soil… loose soil means the roots can wander easily in search of food and water.

Seed companies that we recommend:Picture3

Some of them are all organic seeds, none of them have GMO seeds so we’re safe. I’m experimenting with some heirloom seeds this season which are over 1,000 years old! The seed companies above are all safe. It amazes me how few options we have in the grocery store for variety of produce yet the seeds that are available are abundant! Grow some of them! That’s the fun of gardening… growing things that you can’t buy anywhere.

A few of the more interesting varieties are:
2956G-Veronica2680-Puple Haze773-Goldie Husk Cherries637-Pyrethrum natural insecticide616-Spanish black radishWHITE BOX

Which leads to one more thought… Picture4the produce that is considered dirty: celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, spinach, bell peppers, kale, and zucchini. If you eat them, I would consider growing these in your rows. For full rows, about 12-15 different packets will suffice, with one packet per item…so 12-15 different varieties of vegetables to grow in one row. Since each seed packet contains many seeds, you can probably get by with ordering only one packet for each type of vegetable. Order some flower seeds too…they attract our pollinators… nothing over 3 feet high though, please. It interferes with the sprinkler system spray range.

See you then on Feb. 8 at 8 am!
Email me if you have any questions…

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