To dig or not to dig,
that is the question?
For our March meeting, we were delighted to welcome back to the Garden Club, Kelvin Mason from Sparsholt College. His subject of course was ‘all about vegetables’.

However, Kelvin said he would like to concentrate on the processes of getting the very best out of our vegetable plots and that begins with structure and the preparation of the soil. This starts with digging over the plot, either going the whole hog and ‘double digging’ or single digging, both methods produce virtually the same results, the secret seems to be to add a lot of organic matter, ie well rotted compost and well rotted manure/green manure. All these add much needed nitrogen to the soil and if the soil is well dug over, this will allow, oxygen to reach down to the roots. Green manure is created by leaving uprooted or sown crop parts to wither, so they serve as a mulch.  

It is essential that regular weeding, preferably with a hoe, is done roughly every 7 to 10 days and do try not to walk on the planting areas! It is essential that seeds are planted according to the instructions, as each depth for the seed is determined by its size and the amount of food it has been able to store. A small seed sown too deeply will be unable to receive the amount of light it needs to push through the soil and will just rot away.

Watering is sometimes a problem particularly in times of prolonged hot weather. Crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini need regular watering whereas, crops such as runner beans and peas also benefit from watering, but preferably when in flower as watering before the crops have flowered can lead to more foliage but not larger beans. To determine if the plants need watering, dig 3-4 inches/7-10 cms into the soil next to the plants, if the soil is dry, it’s time to water.

In answer to the question, when is it warm enough to start sowing… the answer is 4°C and one of the suggested methods of determining this is to drop your trousers/skirt and sit on the ground, if it feels really cold, don’t sow!!

Stewart Bussell gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the Committee and we know that Kelvin will be welcomed back some time in the future.

We all left after the meeting feeling thoroughly energised and just waiting to get cracking.

Remember it’s all down to… preparation, preparation and even more preparation!

Enjoy the produce of your labours and let us know how you get on.