Monday, May 3, 2010

Terms to Know

When I first started going to the garden for my independent study I would hear words from Mary Jo and Nicole Ortega that I did not know. Some of these words were germinate, vermicompost, compost, transplant, tillage, and mulch. I would wonder what these words meant, and after going to the garden I would come back to my dorm and research them.

I figured I would enlighten others on the meanings of the words and why they are important to the garden.

Germinate is when the plant comes out of the seed or spore and begins to grow. I heard this term a lot in the Janurary and February because that is when we started seeding the plants in the green house. We had seeded spinach, lettuce, thyme, and many other plants which we were watching and waiting for them to “germinate”. We started tomatos in the first couple of weeks in March. When we first seeded plants we would keep them on the heating pad, and once we saw a little sprout of the plant we would move them off the heating pad and let them grow in the green house until it was time to transplant them in the garden. We had to schedule when we would plant the seeds because of the frost dates. For this region the last frost is in mid-April.

Compost is a word I had heard before starting the study and had a slight idea of what it was. It is decomposing plants and organic materials combined into rich soil. It provides great nutrients, soil structure, helps hold moisture in gardens, and fertilizes the soil. It is very beneficial to the land and is cost free. It also reduces the amount of wastes in landfills.

Heavy clay soils, like we have in the garden, become lighter with the addition of compost. Compost helps retain water in sandy soil and poor soils receive healthy nutrients when compost is added.

Compost is a major strong point we can take pride in with the garden. Without it, we would not have the successful growing and blooming of healthy plants.

Mulch is a protective covering we put over the soil and plants. It helps decrease weeds and erosion, retains moisture, and supplies nutrients as they decompose. There are many ways you can use mulch in your garden, organic or not. At the garden we use hay as our organic mulch. We could also use leave, shells, shredded bark, grass, or sawdust.

Vermicompost is one of the most fun and exciting things we do at the garden. We use worm poop to help create an organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. When I first found out about this, I was in shock. I had no idea you could use worm manure to help make compost.

Transplanting is when one starts seedlings in one place and then moving them to another. At the garden we start most of our plants in the greenhouse in small treys and containers. Once the plant starts growing bigger we move it into larger containers which are more suited for its size, like a tomato plant. When it is finally time, we carefully remove the plant from the container and put it in the ground of our garden.

Tillage is the preparation of the soil in agriculture. The most common used method for tillage is plowing. The importance of tillage is to lighten the soil, allow oxygen and organic materials in, and remove weeds. One always wants a non-compacted soil for their plants so it is important to make sure the soil is soft and loose. At the garden we do not till, but instead double-dig to loosen the soil and improves water drainage. A no-till garden is more sustainable than a tillage garden.

These specific terms and meanings are important and necessary to understand when working or wanting to start a garden.

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