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Techniques to start early here in South Eastern Idaho

Same garden later in the season

Raised garden boxes

   ·         Plant on time – Reap the benefits of the full season.
   ·         Spring around the 1st of April
   ·         Plant garden where it can be exposed to the direct sunlight the entire day.
   ·         Loosen the soil so there is a good seed bed.
   ·         Keep the weeds hoed.  Weeds rob the plants of nutrients, sunlight, and space.
   ·         Plant each vegetable with its appropriate spacing and depth.
   ·         Rotate each kind of vegetable to a different area of the garden each year to reduce disease build-up in the soil.
On a bag of fertilizer there are 3 numbers.  The first one tells what % of Nitrogen is contained in the bag.  The second one is the % of Phosphate.  And the third number is the % of Potassium.  Most Utah soils do not need potassium.

If broadcasting, apply 3 lbs. (3 pints) of the 16-16-16  fertilizer to 100 square feet.  The fertilizer must be mixed thoroughly into the soil 6 inches deep with this method prior to planting. 
If the fertilizer is banded, make a trench 3 inches deep with a hoe.  Scatter 1/2 cup of fertilizer per 10 feet in the trench.  Cover it and plant the seeds in a row 2-3 inches to the side.  Crop roots are quickly nourished by the fertilizer, but the weeds between the rows aren’t encouraged.
                    2-3 { inches                 
                    _____________________  Fertilizer Row

                Don’t water the garden with the lawn.  Water the garden according to its needs.  Ideally, water each type of vegetable separately.  Most people tend to over water.  Best to apply the appropriate amount of water when irrigating and then don’t apply any more water until needed.  The roots need a chance to aerate.
                Each time you water make sure the water gets to the roots of the plant young plants are very sensitive to over watering and their roots aren’t very deep.  Once the crop is well established, flourishing, and the heat of the growing season is on, for most vegetables, irrigate long enough that the soil becomes wet down 8-10 inches deep.  (Stick a long screwdriver in the soil where it is wet.  It will slide easy until it reaches dry soil.)  Don’t irrigate again until the soil is dry down 2 to 3 inches.
                Furrow (ditch) irrigation is best for vegetables.  Getting the foliage wet can cause more diseases to set in earlier, causing an unhealthy plant.  Realize in ditch irrigation that the soil does not need to get wet clear to the surface clear across to the next row.  Far from it, the moisture fans out under the soil.  What is important is that the roots are getting the moisture.  Know where the roots are.  Know where the moisture is.  A farmer should always dig down and see where his moisture and roots are.  Especially to decide when to irrigate for the next time, keeping track of how dry the soil is becoming.  There needs to be the right amount of moisture left at root level before irrigating again.  Realizing different crops have different quantities of moisture requirements. 
                Learn what a healthy plant looks like.  If not enough Nitrogen or excessive watering the plant will not be as green.. If excessive watering the plants roots may be damaged and may grow out of it and green up again.  However, if not greening up again the Nitrogen may have leached too much and more Nitrogen should be applied.

You may fertilize with 21-0-0 if the plant looks yellow or pale green.    Add  a 1/2 Cup of 21-0-0 per 10 feet of row close to the plant but not touching it.  Water the fertilizer in immediately after applying.  Nitrogen is soluble and will leach into the soil, you shouldn’t rototill it in.
                Radishes and spinach don’t need any additional fertilizing at this time.
                Corn, potatoes, carrots and cabbage can be fertilized once again about 8 weeks after planting in the same manner. 

   ·         Hot Caps and Walls of Water can be used to start planting 4 weeks earlier than recommended plantings.
   ·         “Black or clear plastic that covers the soil 2 ½ -3 feet wide through which plants grow can hasten maturity of warm season crops like melons or tomatoes.  The clear plastic provides more soil warming than does black.  Black plastic allows no weed growth.  In most Utah gardens the weeds will germinate under the clear plastic but the heat during a summer day will burn off most of them.”  (Utah State University Extension)
   ·         A raised garden bed warms the soil earlier in the spring.    8 inches raised usually is sufficient for most crops.

Getting the seeds can be hard to germinate at this time of year.  To do so you can place a 2x4 board over the seeding row to keep the soil cool enough.  Watch and be aware of when they germinate and remove the board when they do.  In place of a board you can use dry grass clippings as a mulch over the seed row.  Remove the mulch as the seeds germinate.
Fall after harvest add  1 inch of organic material every fall with 1pint (which is about 2.3 cups) of 21-0-0 fertilizer and rototill into the soil about 6 inches deep.  I would add 2” to 3” of organic material though and add the additional fertilizer required to help decompose the organic material.  Don’t add more than 3 inches in a year.  This is a good way to get rid of your leafs in the fall.
   ·         Prior to planting you can use Round-Up to kill weeds.  The weed killer takes a couple of weeks to take full effect.
   ·         You can spread grass clippings over the garden once established as a mulch to keep weeds down.  But this should not be used around warm season crops because it will cool the soil and slow the development of the fruiting.
   ·         You can lay plastic down but you have to furrow water the garden if you do.
   ·         Truly one of the easiest ways is to hoe the weeds when they are small.  As the garden grows the plants will shade the ground and prevent seeds from germinating.  You can plant vegetables a little closer than recommended to shade more of the ground but it makes it harder to get around the plants to pick.