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As crocuses emerge around the edges of of our garden, and our seedling inventory swells with the anticipation of the growing season, we anxiously await the moment we can begin planting. April 11th is the average last frost in the area, so unless you have cold frames or another form of season extension, the weather this time of year is quite fickle, so you should likely hold off on planting until the threat of a cold snap lessens. However, our farmers are plenty busy these days, driving from site to site where they are awakening the earth by amending the depleted soil.
The key to successful growing is healthy soil, so here are three things that we suggest every grower – urban or rural, backyard or rooftop – provide to their garden beds:
Over the course of the growing season, the soil level in your raised beds will become depleted, and throughout the winter this already-diminished soil will likely become compacted as the snow weighs down. At “Spring Awakenings”, our farmers deliver buckets (or truckbeds) full of rich, compost-heavy soil.
Pro Gro is an all-purpose organic fertilizer that helps to replenish macronutrients in the soil. The three most important nutrients for successfully growing edibles are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, often referred to as NPK. Pro Gro provides a ‘quick release’ of nutrients, and can be supplemented during the growing season with amendments like mulch, which provide ‘slow release’ of nutrients. Be warned that Pro Gro has an odor, so if you’d prefer something a bit less stinky, you can use cottonseed meal in its place!
In addition to the “big three” macronutrients of NPK, crops require a number of trace elements and minerals for healthy growth. In-ground gardens lie atop bedrock, which will naturally erode and provide the soil with these necessary elements. Raised beds are, of course, raised off the ground, and thus our farmers add rock dust to simulate this same process. Four dixie cups of rock dust per 4’x8′ bed should do the trick!
On average, a single 4’x8’ raised bed requires four buckets of fresh soil to begin the growing season. So, at the 17,000 square foot rooftop farm at Whole Foods Market: Lynnfield, they need…just a bit more. On Tuesday, Director of Horticulture Laura oversaw the craning of lots of fresh soil onto the roof, a far cry better than last year, when compost was carried up in to the roof, bucket by bucket. A few overwintered scallions will be ready for harvest soon, and then it’ll be just a few short weeks until the first of the spring crops will be ready for sale in the store below!
Eager to learn more about how to maintain healthy soil? Purchase a copy of The Urban Bounty, and read up on all the ways that you can ready your garden for springtime.