I wrote this a few years ago for a class I was taking. Thought it would still be of value.
I looked at a bunch of websites looking for what is needed to care for my veggie and herb gardens. I looked at what if anything the soil needs, bugs in the area and fertilizing.
Here is what I found.
I was surprised that most soil amendments are not good for the Colorado soil. The best soil amendments are the usual things. I used potting peat moss last year and I plan on using it again this year. Manure and composts are also good to use for gardens in Colorado. Composts not only add to the soil but they also can act as a fertilizer. Composting creates nutrients that when added to the garden soil at the correct depth will supply some food for the plants. Composting and manure are the best way to amend our soil in Colorado.
For fertilizing my gardens I use Miracle-Gro commercial product. I find that the mixture is perfect. I make sure I only fertilize when it is required and never during the heat of the day. Some places need Potassium and Phosphorus to augment the fertilization, however, the soil in Colorado is naturally set with the correct amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Fertilizing in my gardens will ensure I have the perfect crop at harvest time.
Pests in Colorado are a very real problem. We have aphids and I noticed them around the tomato plants and bean plants. The way to control them is to introduce a natural predator to take out the aphids. Ladybird beetles or ladybugs are the best for this. Spider mites are also here in Colorado. They attack the leaves of the plants and eventually killing the plant. Insecticides won’t kill the spider mite and using them will kill the beneficial bugs. Again, natural predators are the best at taking out the mites.
The Colorado Gardening website has a very good way of taking care of pests. It is called IPM. This is from the site.
Informed gardeners realize that totally wiping out all insects in the garden is both unwise and unfeasible. Pest management, rather than complete eradication of pests, is the goal. An integrated approach that utilizes a combination of methods to keep pests in check is employed. These techniques include:
1) Cultural controls: the use of gardening practices that promote healthy plants, such as crop rotation, proper fertilization and watering, good garden clean-up, etc.
2) Mechanical controls: the use of barriers, traps, handpicking of pest, etc.
3) Biological controls: the use of natural predators (beneficial insects) such as ladybugs and green lacewings
4) Chemical controls (the last resort): the use of pesticides derived from natural sources and, when necessary, synthetic sources.
The use of IPM diminishes the need for chemicals and results in gardens that are safer for everyone—children, pets, birds, butterflies, and gardeners!
I believe this is sound advice and might be good for the all gardening students.
I continue to work on the garden every other day and cannot wait to plant the main garden.