There are a few things to think through as you plan your summer garden. Your garden needs full sun – at least 6 hours a day of full, direct sun. For those of you in the tropics, a southern exposure is necessary, and make sure it’s not shaded. Decide on the placement of your beds, then check the sunlight throughout the day if you have neighboring trees or houses. Try to square them up to the southern exposure so you know how to plan your planting. And make sure there is no standing water after it rains in the places you’re putting your beds. Your beds MUST have good drainage.
You also need good fertile alive soil for optimal gardening results. Your soil should be teeming with life. If you have raised beds, then you control what kind of soil you have. I like Mel’s mix (from his Square Foot Gardening book) of 1 part compost, 1 part coarse vermiculite, and 1 part organic matter like peat moss. The peat moss keeps the soil fluffy and crumbly, the compost provides the nutrients and some probiotics, and the vermiculite provides water retention. The problem with this mix is that I can never find coarse vermiculite in the local garden supply places. Occasionally I’ll see it in little bags, which for this purpose are ridiculously expensive. I provided an Amazon link in the left hand sidebar for ordering it on line. Perlite is supposed to do the same thing and I see it all over, but it’s not nearly as efficient in holding moisture as vermiculite.
Once you’ve got your beds set up (see my blog post on building your raised beds) and filled with the right soil mix, you’re ready to plant, right? Wrong. There are just a couple more things I recommend adding to your soil before you start planting. They are two products that make a huge difference in your vegetable harvest: Sea Magic seaweed and BiotaMax probiotic. Before you plant, fill a 3 gallon watering can with water and add one BiotaMax tablet along with a cup of Sea Magic concentrate (which you’ve mixed from the packet of Sea Magic powder with a gallon of water.) This 3 gallons is enough to treat up to a quarter acre of garden! It definitely makes enough for all of my raised beds. Evenly distribute it over your beds.
I’ve been using Sea Magic for over 5 years now and I just love it. I think it makes the tomatoes taste better; it definitely increases the yield because it’s full of micro nutrients that are easily assimilated by the roots. In the early ’70’s I was introduced to powdered kelp as a table condiment by the great nutrition expert Grace Bliss. It contains many necessary minerals. She told me once to sprinkle it on everything I ate. Ever since then, I’ve kept a shaker of kelp near the stove. I put it in everything, just because I know its good for us. There are other kelp or seaweed products out there as well. This one has no odor and a packet usually lasts me all season long.
The other produce I mentioned, BiotaMax, is a soil pro-biotic that I was introduced to last November. It is an effervescent tablet containing live spores of beneficial fungus and bacteria for your soil. These are carefully combined by microbiologists to provide the best overall probiotic mix for the home gardener. The makers have many years of experience providing professional probiotic solutions for farmers and agriculture all over the world. It is finally available for the home gardener. This is a unique product and one that I tested myself last year before the frost killed my cucumbers. I treated the right hand side of this bed with BiotaMax. These cucumber seeds were all planted the same day, but the plants on the right outgrew the ones on the left immediately after I treated the beds. That convinced me to spray all the beds because after all, I wanted all of them to thrive and produce great harvests. You can order BiotaMax by going to www.biotamax.com. It costs under $6. Please put my name (Marian) in the referral box so they know I sent you.
Prepare your soil and prepare for an abundant harvest.