Good Soil and Good Seeds Make a Garden Grow

Use seed tape for uniform spacing. Experienced gardeners know that the quality of veggies you get out of the ground is directly related to what you put in it. Everything that happens down in that dirt is what makes plants grow--or not! So starting from the ground up, get the real scoop on your soil--and then the seeds.

Check your dirt: If you don't know the kind of soil you have, your growing efforts may not bring the best results. Having low organic matter in the range of less than 1 per cent is typical in Colorado.  So to get soil to the desired range of 3 to 5 per cent  organic matter, you will most likely need to amend the soil.
Before adding amendments, however, get a soil test to learn what you really need to add. A soil test (available from Colorado State University for much less than $50) gives important information about the PH of the soil, salt content, amount of organic matter and the content of several minerals like nitrogen.
The CSU soil test kit tells how to submit your soil sample. Results arrive in a few weeks and you don't have to be a scientist to understand them. When you know what your soil needs, you can go about adding it.
Sort out the seeds: Planting old seeds that don't germinate can cost you two to three weeks of outdoor growing time before you know the seeds have failed and you need to replant. That's time you don't want to lose in Colorado's growing season. Check expiration dates on seed bags from past seasons and toss expired seeds.
Can you use seeds harvested from last year's garden? The next generation of seeds from hybridized plants is generally less reliable than the fresh seeds you can buy. Also, as plants cross-pollinate with other garden plants, the mixed-up results land in the seeds--and the next season's plants. Consequently, this year's veggies may look a lot different than last year's.
Seed planting tips:
* Plant seeds in garden rows that run east to west. The east/west orientation gives the sunniest advantage for your crop and more even plant growth.
* Use seed tape to speed up planting and get uniform spacing. You can find these seeds in bags similar to loose seeds at garden centers. Seeds come pre-attached to a paper tape so all you have to do is run the tape down the row and cover it with soil. Within a few days, the tape disintegrates and the seeds germinate.
* Plant seeds for your early season crop of cool season veggies--like spinach, lettuce, carrots--before the end of April.
(c) 2011 Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. All rights reserved.Cop 2007, ASSOCIATED E CONTRACTORS OF COLORADO. All rights reserved.

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