The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Green Acres


March 7, 2018

Notes from Master Gardener Class in Fort Benton

A special thanks to Mariel Stone (Level 3 Master Gardener) for her help and expertise during our master gardener trainings.

The Master Gardener class (Level 1) began in Fort Benton on February 22. In the past few weeks we have covered soils, plant biology, and vegetable production. Notes from the class are below.

• Do not work soil when it is wet. If the soil sticks to the shovel, wait a few more days.

• The number one thing that kills our plants is TLC. Don’t over fertilize, don’t over trim, don’t over water.

• A sandy loam or silt loam with 5-8% organic matter is an ideal soil.

• Try to avoid using horse manure in the garden as residual herbicides are more prominent than cattle manure.

• Adding ashes to the garden is not recommended because it increases the pH in our soil

• Soil tests should be taken in the garden every three years.

• Cottonless cottonwood trees are males.

• Be cautious about over tilling your garden soil. Too much rotary tilling creates a compaction layer which can affect vegetable productivity. MSU raised some carrots, which were bent 90 degrees because they over tilled and created a compaction layer.

• Rear-tine rotary tillers are easier to operate then front-tine rotary tillers.

• The ragdoll test is important in determining seed germination. Take 10 garden seeds of one variety and place the seeds in a paper towel. After two weeks, come back and count how many seeds have germinated. If five germinate, double the seeding rate.

• Seeds should be planted 2 ½ times deeper than the diameter of the seed.

• Carrots can be planted using planting strips, which require no thinning.

The planting strips are precisely spaced seeds enclosed in a water soluble material.

• Gardens should not be planted until the last frost in the

spring. Average last frost in the spring is May 15; for Big Sandy, May 20; for Carter, May 11; for Fort Benton, May 8; for Geraldine, May 23; for Highwood and May 25; for Kenilworth.

Montana State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.


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