Tuesday, April 7, 2009

KCB Gardening 101

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are proud to tell you that KCB rules as the 2008 Maine Master Gardener of the Year. And we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.

The following outline served as the basis for a terrific Gardening 101 class held Saturday, April 4 at Skillin's Greenhouses (http://www.skillins.com/) in Brunswick, Cumberland and Falmouth.

We will gladly email this outline in Word Doc form, just email us at info@skillins.com and put Gardening 101 in the subject line. We will also include two more informative outlines: "Soil Terms" and "Plant Hardiness" in what we email to you. "Soil Terms" can also be found added to this outline at the bottom of this post. You may in fact prefer that we email you these helpful documents rather than use this post as KCB's outline is better represented in the original documents than in the translation posted below. Either way, you and your gardens will greatly benefit from what KCB has to tell you!

Please email us at info@skillins.com with any gardening questions you have!

Whether a seasoned gardener, just beginning or somewhere in between, it is best to have a strategy before you begin. With some forethought it could save money and pain, both physical and emotional, down the road.

1. Plan before you plant
2. Prepare before you plant
3. What you need
4. What plants need
5. Right Plant, Right Place
1. Think about how you wish to use your out-of-doors space:
g Recreation
g Relaxing & Reflecting
g Dining& Entertaining
g Theme Gardens
o Bird & Butterfly Magnet
o Culinary
o Mixed Border
o Moon
g All of the above
o Separate areas creating ‘rooms’

2. Imagine the garden beds and landscape you want to create
g Plants
g Colors
& Visualize a palette that you find attractive and not specific plants.
& Foliage!!!
g Textures
& Foliage
g Lacy
g Succulent
g Spiky
g Broadleaf

3. Budget
& For Materials & Maintenance

4. Maintenance
& Initial installation and on going
& Low Maintenance doesn’t mean NO maintenance
PREPARE BEFORE YOU PLANT1 Know your property
œ & Walk your property
o Check
§ Topography
§ Wind intensity
§ Drainage
§ Water Source
§ Micro-climates
§ Sunlight
· Time of day and duration
§ Wildlife
§ Known Pests

2. Know your soil
§ pH = soil acidity or alkalinity
· 7 is Neutral
o < = Acid (“sour”) § Add lime to decrease (increase pH) § Wood Ash o > = Alkaline (“sweet”)
§ Add aluminum sulfate (decrease pH)
§ Sulfur
§ Levels of Nutrients (only 3 are listed
· Nitrogen (N) 1st # on plant food/fertilizer bag
o promotes foliage over-all growth in lushness and color
· Phosphorus (P) 2nd # on plant food/fertilizer
o Promotes flowering (blooms) & Fruit development
o Promotes strong roots
· Potassium (K) 3rd #
o Promotes over-all health, strength and size of plant

3. Know your self
a.“Warming up before gardening is just as important as warming up before a vigorous workout. After warming up, stretching exercises for the major muscle groups that will be involved in performing the task can reduce the risk of injury.” The American Society of Hand Therapists ASHT®
b. Your schedule; how much time you really want to commit to your garden
APPROPRIATE TOOLS-sharpened and in good working order.
1. Tools for digging and/or planting
g Trowel
g Spade
g Digging/Pitch Fork
2. Tools for Pruning/Cutting
g Hand pruners
g Loppers
g Saws
0 pruning
0 bow
3. Tools for Weeding
g Garden Hoe
g hand fork
g Dandelion weeder
4.Tools for hauling
g Wheelbarrow
g Bucket
5.Tools for watering
g Watering Can
g Hose
6.Tools for comfort and Safety
g Gloves
§ Mud gloves
§ Light weight/flexible
§ Rose (long, up to elbow made of leather)
g Knee Pads
g Safety Glasses
g Sun Screen
g Hat
g Good Soil
g Sunlight
g Degrees of light
· Full Sun = 6 hours of sun between 10 AM 6 PM
· Part Shade/Part Sun = less than above or sun earlier in day
· Filtered Shade/Sun = Under trees or structures in full sun
g Water
· Achieve Balance
· Slow deep watering
· Do not waste
g A Good Start
· See Plan & Prepare!

Things to consider
§ Amount of Sunlight
§ Growth pattern/height
o Will plant spread
o Will self sow
o Height
§ Maintenance needs
o Deadheading
o Dividing
§ Watering needs

g Select plants appropriate for your property
§ Sunlight, soil, maintenance needs, height and spread
g Read plant labels/tags
g Ask professional nursery staff
g Keep a Garden Journal!
§ Make notes of what and when of blooming, what works, what needs dividing, any special notations.

For Soil Test Kits, various publications or to learn more about the Master Gardener program:
Cumberland County Extension Office
15 Chamberlain Ave.

Favored Web Sites:
http://www.skillins.com/ (great way to access the Skillin's Garden Log)
http://www.finishingtouchesgardendesign.com/ (under construction-check back soon)
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
April 7, 2009
Common Soil Terms
Good Soil is essential for all healthy gardens. Feed the Soil not the plant. A better quality soil means deeper and healthier roots for your plants. Deeper and healthier roots mean healthier plants that are better able to produce more healthy growth!

Types of Soil:

Clay: Heavy & Hard. Feels much like modeling clay. Holds its shape when wet. Slow to warm in spring and slow to drain. Too compact and can stunt root growth.
It does hold nutrients more than other soil types.
g Amend Soil w/composted materials
g Gypsum adds air and space to heavy clay soils

Sandy: Gritty feel, loose and falls apart when squeezed. Dries out quickly. Good drainage.
g Amend w/composted organic materials
g When planting incorporate new loam w/organic mix and original soil

Loam: Almost ideal. Smooth, only partially gritty. Forms a ball then crumbles easily. Equal parts clay, sand and silt.

More Soil Terms

Silt: Mostly minerals and organic material. Feels/looks like dark sand.

Humus: Organic materials from animals and plants found in soil. Soils rich in humus are referred to as ‘rich’.

Acid Soil: A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil. (a soil pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline). pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil.

Alkaline Soil: A soil with a pH higher than 7.0 is an alkaline soil. (a soil pH lower than 7.0 is acidic) Basically, pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil.

Sour Soil: Acidic soil (pH lower than 7.0)

Sweet Soil: Alkaline Soil. (pH higher than 7.0)

Amending Soil: Adding organics or other nutrient to improve soil.

What & When:
Lime raises pH: Add to Sour or Acid soil to bring pH up.
Sulfur lowers pH: Add to Sweet or Alkaline Soil to bring pH down.

Coffee Grounds, Peat Moss (if sandy or dry) or Sulfur and/or Iron Sulfate for clay soil, will help sour or make more acidic.
Wood ashes will sweeten soil.
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
April 7, 2009

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