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Vegetable Garden Tips & Tricks

March 2nd, 2009 by Veggie Master · No Comments

Thinning – Many vegetables must be thinned to be productive.  Thinning simply means removing seedlings so the remaining ones have room to grow.  Carrots are number one on this list.  No matter how careful you are when seeding, too many carrot plants will pop up.  Take the time to carefully pull the extras until each plant is about 2 inches apart.  It’s the only way to get large, well-shaped carrots.  Beets, radishes and any other small-seeded vegetable need this treatment.

Interplanting – Leaf lettuce will benefit from a little shade in the heat of summer so plant it in and among taller growing veggies.  Certain flowers and herbs will benefit your garden by repelling harmful insects or by attracting pollinators and beneficial insects.  Dot them about for both their beauty and usefulness.  It’s also a great way to have fresh cut flowers.  The resulting biodiversity seems to increase the health of the entire garden.

Pick Baby Veggies – By picking certain vegetables when they’re young you can greatly increase your garden production.  Baby zucchini, eggplants, summer squash, carrots, beets, beans, onions, peas and potatoes are all delicious lightly cooked, tender and full of flavor.  The mother plants will produce even more as a response.

Feed the Soil – not the plants.  Focus on the health and fertility of the soil and everything else will follow.  This means adding any and all organic matter to your garden, keeping it thickly covered with weed seed-free mulch and providing adequate moisture to maintain soil health.  As long as I do this my garden never needs testing, pH adjustment or chemical additives.

Extending the Season – Floating row cover is an almost magical fabric which comes in several thicknesses.  It can extend your growing season by protecting plants from the cold of early spring and late summer.  Depending on the weight of the fabric you choose and the plants to be protected, you can either lay it loosely directly on the plants or erect a frame with wire hoops  and secure it with metal pins or stones.  From two to ten degrees of frost protection will result depending on the thickness of the fabric.  Lighter weight row covers can be left on days, weeks, or even the entire season since rainfall and most available light will penetrate to the crop below.  The heaviest covers must be removed during the day or the plants will suffer from lack of sunlight.

Protecting Plants from Hungry Insects – Row covers will also keep out certain undesirable insects.  For example, I place it over basil plants when I put them in to prevent Japanese beetles from devouring one of their favorite foods.  Be sure to put the covers on early before the pest arrives.

Grow in Containers – If an in-ground garden is not an option for you, don’t despair, use containers.  Make sure whatever receptacle you use is deep enough – 6 inches for lettuce, radishes and most flowers, and a foot or more for carrots, celery, beans, peas and larger flowering plants.  Fill the containers with half compost and half soil-less planting medium bought in bags.  Mulch well to preserve moisture.  Install timer-controlled drip irrigation or watch carefully to avoid drying out, especially on hot, sunny days.

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