Fall gardens: August is the time to get some vegetables and fruits ready for the Fair, which begins on August 31. It's also the time to get the fall vegetable garden established and plan for a cover crop for the winter. For the cover crops, I use Oats and/or Austrian Winter Peas. You probably won't find them in less than 50 pound bags. I will have oats and peas available in small bags for 100 to 500 square feet areas. If interested in a small amount, let me know. Both of those cover crops should be planted in early September.
For the fall vegetable garden, I plant beets, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes and turnips. Although it will still seem very much like summer, mi to late August is the time to begin fall gardens. Only a few nurseries will have broccoli and cabbage plants available, and they don't last long. If you want to grow your own, start them in early August. I plant seeds of these in the garden and then transplant them later. Because these are cool weather crops, they will benefit from a little afternoon shade.
Nutrition matters: For the majority of the time that I spend helping other organic gardeners, I deal with questions regarding the re-mineralization of the soil (fertilization). Growing vegetables is not the same as growing vegetables with high nutrition, which I advocate. In a good fertilizer regime all the minerals needed for good growth and nutrition are there in their proper amounts. What to apply depends on what is already in the soil. Without a soil test, it's pretty much a guess. Sometimes it is an easy process to get the correct amounts and ratios, but in general the process of getting all the minerals and ratios correct takes several years.
Boron is more than a minor element. It is fortunate that in our Arkansas Soil Test program we get a test for the mineral or element called boron. Like many minerals, boron does not act independent of other minerals. It is closely tied with calcium, and in fact calcium will not provide its many benefits if boron is in short supply. It begins with its role in photosynthesis, i.e. the production of sugar. Next, it plays a critical role in releasing sugar to the root system each night. This sugar exudes from the roots and feeds the microbes in the rhizophere, which in turn helps to fix nitrogen, make phosphorus soluble, recycle minerals from crop residues, remove toxins, produce growth stimulants, and protect the plant from pathogens. All this and more is partially dependent on the correct amount of boron.
Although the Arkansas Soil Test program provides the pounds per acre of boron in the soil, there are no recommendations given for adding boron, even if the values for boron are zero. It is important that you look at this number on your soil test report each year and add boron if needed. Boron is a mineral that is leached from the soil, especially in soils low in organic matter.
You can fix the boron deficiency problem easily by simply adding borax (yes, the Twenty Mule Team product). Four pounds of boron per acre is adequate. Do not over supply, especially in calcium deficient soils. Borax is 12 percent boron, so for each pound per acre that you are deficient in boron, add 1 Tablespoon of borax per 100 square feet. Mix it in water, apply, and water it in. It can also go on as a foliar spray, and is especially helpful if done prior to flowering.
Boron is not just for the welfare of the plants and the soil. Animal and human health nutritionists now know that it serves in a diverse range of functions in animals and humans. A shortage in the diet can lead to health issues. It all begins with having it in the soil. Want to read more about this, check it out on the internet. See nutri-tech.com.au for starters.