Get growing!
By Mitsy Krzywicki

Note from Doni: Please join me in welcoming Mitsy Kyzywicki and her first gardening column, Get Up and Grow! Mitsy, a top-notch graphic artist and illustrator, is also is a wealth of information about plants and gardening. I trust you’ll find her as interesting and inspirational as I do. Enjoy.

From the glimpse of your first carrot seedling to emerge from the soil, to the smell of a handful of dill, to the taste of the first ripe strawberry, vegetable gardening is just about the most satisfying hobby in which to indulge.

I love to grow my own food, and I would love to share some of my techniques.
I am not a gardener who subscribes much to conventional gardening methods, I tend to make it up as I go along. But I will resort to more formal methods when my experiments fail. (Meaning, I actually will read the directions!) Bear with me if you do it a different way. Of course, feel free to add your tried and trusted methods.

1. Garden placement. Full sun. If you can find a spot that gets a goodly portion of full sun all day, you are off to a good start. Vegetables need a lot of sun to grow vigorous and healthy, but if you can find a spot that gets late afternoon shade, you may find it helps in our scorching summer heat. A spot that stays shady in the morning, then gets hot sun later, or a spot facing a west wall, may not do as well.

2. Soil amendments. Most of Redding, unless you are blessed to live in a bottom-land area, has a heavy, nutrient-depleted, laterite soil. You will need to put lots of organic material in it to make your garden do well. Some folks like to put well-composted cow manure in their gardens. I use it, but I prefer to use products like Ferti-mulch, composted cedar or redwood mulch, something that has a bit more lasting power. I have used City of Redding’s compost products as well. Hand-dig in as deep as you can, or rototill it in. No matter what it is, if it is composted, it will help. Un-composted sawdust and bark will not help your soil until it breaks down, and will rob your soil of nitrogen.

3. Watering. I have been heard to say, “Redding, where watering is an art.” Our hot summer climate makes it important to make sure your watering method is sufficient. Overhead watering with a sprinkler works, and is the cheapest initial outlay of money, but tends to be water-wasteful, carry water-borne diseases, and will germinate a plethora of weed seeds. Flood irrigation works great if you live by the ACID canal, or have the time to run a bubbler at the end of a hose. For those of us who are water-use conscious, don’t want to be running around with a garden hose all day, and like to keep the weeds down, drip/low pressure systems are the way to go.

I use drip emitters, micro-sprayers of all kinds, in-line emitters, 3/4″ and 1/4″ recycled-tire soaker lines, and will be using what is called T-Tape this year. I use the drips and micro-sprayers in my all flower areas, but for the vegetables I prefer the soakers and in-line emitters, and, hopefully, the T-Tape. The soakers will begin to clog with scale after a year or two; big disadvantage for so large a financial outlay. However, the others will last years and years if properly cared for.
The local department hardware stores carry many of these items, but if you are doing a large area, and if you want to save money, go with the specialty businesses that cater to landscaping and plumbing materials only. Most of the folks in those businesses are very knowledgeable and helpful to even us emitter-ignorant.

4. Weeds. Get rid of them. Whether you pull them, hack them, or scrape them up, get them out of the area so they don’t finish off a couple of seeds in their dying gasps. Unless you live right next to open fields and pastures like I do, every season you prevent weeds from reproducing is another year of fewer weeds returning. Don’t spray with any herbicides unless you have these weeds from the pit of hell; Johnson grass, Bermuda grass, or bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). In this tainted world today, one of the important points of growing your own veggies is not ingesting all the chemicals that get used on the commercial produce. Try to eradicate your weeds with mechanical means and not chemical ones. I do use Round-up in my vegetable garden, but only on the bind-weed, which is nearly impossible to kill by pulling, and I apply it with a brush or a sponge so no overspray gets on any plants or soil. For most of my weeding I love these tools shown here.


Next time: What to grow.

Mitsy Krzywicki (pronounced Kriz wik’ ki), a former Record Searchlight artist, now enjoys life as an avid gardener, freelance graphics artist and amateur photographer. You can drop her a line at czygyny@yahoo.com

Mitsy Krzywicki

Mitsy Krzywicki (pronounced Kriz wik’ ki), is an avid gardener, freelance graphics artist and photographer.

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