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Planting Guidelines

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Planting Guidelines

Planting Guidelines

Alfrea Farming expert - Julie / May 2017

Gardening is part science, part art, so while there are never any guarantees, this guide will get you off on the right foot.

Seed Selection

People often overlook the importance of growing quality seeds. There are many seed companies out there and they are not all reputable. Talk to other gardeners or farmers and find out reputable sources they trust. Below is a listing of highly recommended online seed connections.

Some of the best seed connections on-line:

When to Plant

Summer crops, including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, melons, cucumbers and summer squash will be killed or severely damaged if frost occurs. In the Mid-Atlantic, Zone 7, our last frost date is April 15th. None of these summer crops should be planted until after the danger of frost ends. A quick online search will help you find out your agricultural zone and frost date. Plant your seeds at the depth suggested by the supplier and water frequently (if no rain) to get your seeds to germinate.

Sunlight

If there is not enough sunlight to grow grass, there will not be enough sunlight to grow vegetables. Leafy greens can do well in shady spots, but most other crops will need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Spacing

If you plant too close together it is likely that you will reduce your overall yield. This is our recommended spacing.

  • Tomatoes, Eggplant, Tomatillos:18”-24”
  • Peppers:12”-18”
  • Cucumbers, Summer Squash Melon:12”-24”
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale: 12”-18”
For direct seeded crops, follow the instructions on the seed packet.

Weeding

Weed before it gets weedy. At our farm we like to use a stirrup hoe when the weeds have just germinated. Do this once every week or so, approximately three times. After that your plants should be big enough to outcompete the weeds. Some weeds are ok once the plants are big enough. Irrigating: Most plants need about 1 inch of rain per week. We keep track with a rain gauge. If you think you need to water the first step is to feel the soil. Dig down an inch or so. If there is moisture then don’t water. If it’s dry go ahead and water. Even in the heat of the Summer, watering should not be needed more than once a week (unless you are growing in raised beds, which dry out much faster).

Fertilizing

We recommend only using organic fertilizer and compost. Organic fertilizers will say either “NOP Compliant” or “OMRI Listed.” Anything else is likely petroleum based and will do great harm to the microorganisms in your soil. Follow guidelines on the fertilizer. At our farm we use a less is more mentality when it comes to fertilizers. Troubleshooting: Be observant. Look for eggs or worms weekly and pull them off of plants instead of using chemicals. Try to spot a problem before it’s too late to address it.

Sources for Fertilizing

Grass clippings

Are one of the best plant organic fertilizers (just make sure the clippings are from an herbicide treated lawn).Grass clippings also serve double duty to maintain soil moisture and as weed control 2-5% Nitrogen.

Make compost

Making compost from your everyday garden and kitchen wastes 1-4% Nitrogen Leaves, Vegetable Kitchen waste, fruit and vegetable fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds. Check out Composting made easy.

Dry Fertilizers:

  • Cotton Seed Meal
  • Alfalfa Meal
  • Soybean Meal

Blended Fertilizers:

Liquid Fertilizers:

Cross reference Alfrea blog postings:

Happy Gardening!

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