Info Sheets: An info sheet is a short, yet detailed, explanation of a particular gardening procedure. They are an adaptation of food industry-centric Food Safety Info Sheets, which are “used to provide food safety risk-reduction information to generate behavior change.” while similar, these focus on garden particulars.
Info Sheet #1: Flooding in the Garden.
Rain Barrels and Cistern Testing.
We’ve heard that y’all are interested in testing your rain barrels for generic E. coli, which is awesome. So, now what? This post is a great explanation as to how to do it. There are even links to companies all over North Carolina that perform not only generic E. coli testing, but many more! Some roof runoff might be contaminating the water with heavy metals, but that varies by location and is something you might want to bring up when you contact the companies for prices and sampling procedures.
Common Core Curriculum.
Many of you have asked about the incorporation of the school garden into the new common core curriculum. While it might be new to North Carolina, that’s not the case for many other states. The California School Garden Network has compiled a pretty awesome list of resources, even including some developed by our very own Watts Montessori School!
Doing the soil test is super easy and it tests for all kinds of nutrients. And we know that you’ve done it (if not, here’s all the information you need). But, many of the gardeners have indicated to us that it is really hard to read. Once you get it back from NCDA&CS, click on this link and analyze your results. It might be easier to print it out (it’s only 8 pages) for use. Additionally:
- For more information on soil structure and fertility.
- For more information on liming.
- For more information on minimizing the risks of soil contaminants in urban gardens.
Also, your county Extension Agent is an excellent person to contact with questions. There are NCDA&CS individuals who specialize in horticulture–as well as all the smart Master Gardeners!
As for the soil test for heavy metals, there are a couple of local companies that can perform the tests:
Think the test for heavy metals doesn’t matter? Click here to read about the impact of lead in the soil.
If you are struggling with the soil test results, or anything else, shoot us an email and we will do all we can to answer your questions.
Truthfully, let’s just minimize the risk, regardless of the soil test.
Expired Seeds (with A LOT of help from our friend Liz Driscoll at NC State).
Let’s imagine you’ve got packets of seeds leftover from last year and are considering using them again. But it’s not worth it if they won’t grow, I know.
BUT! Seeds are usually viable for 3-5 years. An easy test to check them: take 5-10 seeds, put them in a moist paper towel for a couple of days and approximate your germination percentage. For example, if 5 seeds of the 10 germinate, you have 50% germination and should probably plant some extra seeds to get the number of plants you want.
The date on the package is usually what season they are sold–so if the package says 2012, the seeds were harvested the previous season for sale in 2012 and should be just fine until 2015.
We heard quite a bit about fire ants this summer–and we know that many of you are using boiling water to kill them. But, we’ve also heard that they come back. Watch this video from NC Cooperative Extension for all sorts of ideas on how to get rid of them for good. (And, there are tons of other awesome videos on their YouTube channel–from how to prune a peach tree to how to install drip irrigation.)
- The People’s Garden (at the White House) has a series of pretty cool webinars on a variety of topics that you might find helpful: seed saving, composting, best practices in starting a school garden. Click here for all the links.
- How do pathogens even get on produce? The Food Safety Network explains the complexities.