COUNTY AG NEWS
Gardening in 2020
Another growing season is building momentum with the arrival of the 2020 seed catalogs, and gardeners are drafting plans for new harvests. For those with an interest in gardening there will be a Master Gardener Class held this spring starting on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Each class session is taught by Extension personnel. Part of each class includes a segment with a current Master Gardener who teaches a short segment on some part of gardening they specialize in.
We have members who speak on starting plants, growing roses, growing garlic, how to divide perennial plants and other topics that they have knowledge of. Classes are informal and there are breaks for refreshments and networking with other class attendees and existing Master Gardener members.
For additional information contact the Waushara County UW-Extension office, 920-787-0416.
Beginning gardeners are oftentimes too enthusiastic. Beginners can achieve their best planting results by thinking small. Starting too large is the most common mistake made by first-time gardeners. Limit yourself to 10 feet by 10 feet. If you grow frustrated because of too many things happening the first year, there’s a good chance you won’t feel like gardening a second year. You can always expand as your skills develop.
Other tips that beginners can start thinking about now: Find the right location. You need 12 to 16 hours of sun per day for a vegetable garden. Ornamental gardens aren’t as fussy.
In Central Wisconsin with our sandy soils easy access to a water source is essential. Additional water may be needed two to three times each week. Our sandy soils are low in organic matter which makes good water and nutrient management especially important.
Good soil preparation is important to success, but be patient. Don’t force the soil when it’s wet. Soil structures will compact and get tight. That makes it tough for water and air to move through and greatly inhibits growth. Squeeze the soil gently in your hand. If it crumbles a bit when squeezed, it’s ready for use. It can take a long time to get good soil texture, and just minutes to destroy it if you work it while it’s too wet
Keep records, you can learn a lot by recording things. What worked and what didn’t. Put those lessons to use the following year.
For vegetable gardens, choose easy-to-grow plants like leaf lettuce, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, green beans and radishes. Leave more challenging plants like cauliflower, melons, celery and broccoli for another season.
Deal quickly with insects. Make regular visits to your garden to check for plant pests. Don’t worry about the adults. You want to go after the eggs before they develop into juvenile leaf cutters. Most eggs are on the underside of leaves. Use soapy water and picking or simply remove the infested leaves.
Weeds compete with your plants for nutrients and water. Get rid of them before they go to seed.
Mulching retains soil moisture, cools the ground and smothers weeds. Use natural and free materials like shredded leaves, newspaper, grass clippings and sawdust that also enrich the soil over time.
Avoid overcrowding. That stresses plants, invites disease and reduces yields.
Recruit pollinators. Adding clumps of pollen-rich blooms (think daisy-like coneflowers, sunflowers, asters) to a vegetable mix enhances pollination and boosts harvests.
Eliminate or ease up on the pesticides. Chemicals don’t discriminate. They kill the beneficial insects along with the bad.