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Summer 2014 - Page 7 Plant a Smarter Garden

The arrival of summer means ideal conditions for growing things. Theres no better time to plant a vegetable garden and enjoy an abundant harvest. We interviewed John Growdon of Northern Star Mills (northernstarmills.net) located in Chico, Calif., to get a seasoned gardeners perspective on the best plants for your garden, and also some tips and tricks for going as natural as possible. When you're getting ready to start your garden, John says the first thing youll want to do is to add fertilizer to the soil, even before you plant any seeds. Some good fertilizers to use are bone meal, i sh meal, kelp meal, and green sand. These can often be purchased as a mix in one bag, like Northern Star Mills sells. In addition to being effective, this fertilizer has the benefit of being organic and natural, so you know that youre not putting anything unhealthy into the ground where your produce will be growing. Next, go ahead and plant all your seeds at the same time. You'll find that your plants will yield more and more the further the season progresses. As your seeds are getting established, John says, Make sure you water once a day. Water in the morning, that way theres water through the heat of the day. As roots develop, you can go to once a week. All the same, if you see any plants looking limp, give them a drink. The good news is that these vegetables (see Johns summer picks above) thrive in the heat. Of course, where there are growing things there are also the ubiquitous bugs. Johns top recommendation for keeping little critters out of your garden is diatomaceous earth, a sedimentary rock found on the bottom of the sea and ground to a fine powder. Diatomaceous earth is excellent for keeping peckish crawling bugsespecially earwigs-out of your flourishing garden. As an added bonus, it's also safe for human consumption, and therefore nontoxic to your plants. Be aware, however, that its dangerous to breathe in because of the small particles. Just wear a paper mask when applying to your raised beds to keep yourself safe. Now that you have the basics, its time to get outdoors and start your garden. Not only will this gardening hobby provide you with hours of entertainment, youre also likely to end up with an abundance of fresh produce for your recipes this summer.

TOMATOES CUCUMBERS EGGPLANT POLE BEANS BELL PEPPERS BEETS BASIL MARIGOLDS

Plant an early variety and a heirloom variety for tomatoes all summer long. These hardy vegetables are a safe choice since they do well in the heat. Add some color to your garden with eggplant in different hues. Try a sumptuous French Filet variety to include in salads or simply steam. Grow pest-resistant varieties to keep your time investment low. A snap to grow from seeds, these nutritious roots have a range of uses. This herb takes up minimal space and adds bright avor to summer dishes. Plant some marigolds to keep pesky whiteies away, naturally.

Written by Jenny Hildenbrand Illustrations by Brad Yoo

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