Thursday, March 31, 2011

Provident Living Class: Gardening

On Tuesday, OSU Extension Agent Ross Penhallegon spoke to us about gardening in the Willamette Valley.

He spoke of four vital areas to consider while gardening:

1. Soil
2. Sun
3. Water
4. Fertilizer

Soil - Ross spoke of the tried and true way to test your soil. Dig a hole about 1 ft deep. Take a handful of soil in your hands, and squeeze it into a ball. If it crumbles and falls apart, you've got loam-based soil. The good stuff. If it forms a solid ball that's slick, you've got clay-based soil, in which case you'll want to add as much organic matter as possible - but avoid sand. If you add sand to clay-based soil, you'll wind up with adobe brick. Great for villas, bad for veggies. For a more in-depth discussion on soil and at-home soil testing, view this article from

Sun - It's best to plan your garden before planting. Visit this site for sample garden plans. One of the main things to consider while planning is light. You want to plant taller plants (like corn) on the north side of the garden to prevent them from shading other plants as the sun moves across your land. 

Water - In the Willamette Valley, we run a lower risk of having to stress too much about water. Generally speaking, and with a good layer of mulch, you should only need to give your garden a good soaking once or twice a week. View this article from OSU Extension on watering. One of the main things to avoid is giving your garden frequent, shallow waterings. It's important to let the water reach the roots where it does the plant real good.

Fertilizer - There is SO much information out there about fertilizer. Where in the world do you even begin? Right here, of course! Read this article from OSU Extension on fertilizer. Ross' main point about fertilizer is that it has one objective: to feed the plant. There are many, many discussions/arguments on what fertilizer to use, whether you go organic or chemical, etc etc. Your main goal is to feed the plant, which ever way you may choose.

As a side note, we are about 4 weeks behind in the Willamette Valley because of the moisture we've been experiencing. Surprise, surprise. : )

If you don't have anything in the ground yet, don't feel bad. If you haven't even looked in the direction of your garden plot, you still have time. If you don't even have a garden plot, all is not lost!! Start simple, start now. 

Also, check out this series of great articles from OSU Extension on growing your own vegetables:

"Growing Your Own Vegetables"

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