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Spring planning can lay the foundation for healthy plants in the summer and fall? The first step to building that foundation is soil testing. Talk with the master gardeners at the Saratoga Farmers’ Markets, and bring in a small zip-lock bag or cup full of your soil. For $1, the gardeners from Cornell Cooperative Extension Service will administer a basic soil test. This test will help you gain a basic understanding of your soil. It tells you if the pH is right for what you are planting and if you have the optimal amount of organic matter.
After a soil test, the second best thing you can do this spring is make sure you are putting the right plant in the right spot. If you are starting a vegetable garden or planting annuals, read the sun and watering requirements for each plant. Tomatoes like full sun and can tolerate sandier soils, whereas broccoli desires a shadier area. Petunias thrive in the heat of a patio planter, but snap dragons prefer natural soils and a bit of shade mid-day. If you are planting perennials or shrubs, make sure you read the tag to understand what the plant will look like when it is full grown. Avoid large shrubs or tall perennials under windows or bushy plants near the stairs. Putting the right plant in the right spot will avoid unnecessary pruning that gives the plant an unnatural look.
Talk to us about your gardening successes, failures, challenges, and opportunities. They could become the basis for future newsletter items, or simply satisfy our curiosity about what grows best where. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by our Veggie Valet tent at the summer market on Saturdays. In the meantime, dream about your garden’s harvest with this easy Kale Pesto from Friends of the Market volunteer Sadie Ross:
(From Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers, by Janet Fletcher, Andres McMeel Publishing, LLC 2010)
• 1/2 pound of kale
• 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• Salt to taste.
Remove the ribs of the kale and put them into a large pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pot, rinse in cold water and squeeze dry. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook as directed. Save a bit of the water after draining the pasta.
Add the kale, walnuts and garlic to a food processor and process till nearly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process till smooth. Add some of the water used to boil the kale and pasta until the pesto is the desired consistency. Serve over pasta.