Vegetable Care


How to care for your vegetables

■ After planting your plants, add mulch around them to keep the soil cool, the weeds down, retain water and will also compost and add to the quality of your soil. Be sure to put two inches of mulch into your garden each year after planting. It will help your garden start on the right foot.

■ Everything on this earth requires water to live. Your plants are no different. Keep this in mind when considering how to care for your garden because if you expect the garden to produce, you’ll have to water regularly. Each garden will have different water requirements based on what you plant in the garden. On average, you should plan on watering the garden an inch per week. Some plant varieties may require more.

■ Weeds can be detrimental to your garden. They will compete with your plants for nutrients and usually win the war. With this in mind, be sure to make it a point to pull weeds from your garden at least once a week. As soon as you see new weeds poking through the mulch, remove them.

■ Fertilizing is important for any garden. Keep in mind, you can choose natural fertilizers, such as chicken manure fertilizer, or you can purchase fertilizers online or locally. Either way, you should fertilize as much as your plant varieties need. Some plants need fertilizer more frequently than others. Be sure to do your research before applying anything to your garden.

■ When your plants begin to bloom, it will be natural to find dead blooms on a plant. Be sure to remove these. Not only will it add to the look of your garden, but it will also make room for new blooms to increase the plant’s production.

■ If you want to stay ahead of pests and diseases, you are going to have to put in the effort to spot them before they do any real damage. How do you go about doing this? You need to make it a priority to check your garden weekly for signs of pests or illness in your plants. If you see either, begin treating right away.

■ Crop rotation is one of the most important things you can do when planting a garden. The reason is if you plant a crop in the same location year after year, pests are going to figure it out and treat your yard like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Plus, if you don’t give the soil a break in particular areas of your garden by planting other items, you could also give diseases a solid breeding ground. Make rotating your crops a priority.

■ The soil is your garden’s foundation. Your plants depend upon it to hold the moisture they need and to feed them. If your soil isn’t healthy, don’t expect much more from your plants. You need to make boosting your soil a priority. Test the soil to see what it needs and feed it. It may take a few years, but by investing in it, your plants will do much better.

■ A lot of people don’t pay attention to the cleanliness of their garden tools. You might wonder why you should bother cleaning something if it is going to be covered in dirt with your next use. Garden tools are in your soil, and there could be disease there also. To stop the spreading of virus and disease, it is important to clean your gardening tools regularly.

■ Certain plants in your garden will become heavy from producing. Plants, like tomatoes, will need a stake in the ground and some twine to tie them up. It will help provide support to the plant, which keeps the tomato plant off the ground. This will protect the produce from becoming rotten and the plant from getting diseased.

■ It is funny when you think how important sanitation can be in a garden since dirt surrounds it. Yet, sanitation is an important component of caring for your garden. Be sure to clear any dead plants, leaves, or any other debris in your garden. Keeping the dirt clear, gives pests fewer places to live and thrive. In turn, this keeps your garden healthy.

■ When your garden begins to produce, be sure to harvest it promptly. If you leave the yield in the garden for too long, it will rot. From there it will hit the ground and begin drawing pests to your garden you don’t want or need. Making sure to keep your garden picked is a great way to provide care for it.

■ Pruning is as important as harvesting. Your plants will need to be pruned during their dormant season if you have perennials in your garden such as fruit trees. When pruning, be sure to leave room for new growth without bringing harm to the plant and will keep your plants healthy and vibrant.

■ If you want to keep a healthy garden, the best place to start is by not inviting disease into it. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in plant varieties which are resistant to diseases in your area. You can accomplish this by researching common diseases in your area, or by speaking with someone at a local nursery.

■ Are you someone who enjoys your personal space? My mom is a ‘hugger,’ but my sister and I are the farthest things from it. Well, keep this in mind when planting your garden. Your plants are not ‘huggers.’ They need room to grow and room for air to circulate to fight off disease.

■ One of the best ways you can care for your veggie garden should be done before you even start. You need to pick a great garden location. This location should be level (to ensure proper water distribution), and it should get at least six or more hours of sunlight. Choosing an excellent garden location can stop many problems many gardeners face.

■ Caring for your garden boils down to taking care of your plants and soil. You want to keep them both disease and pest free. Along with making sure they both are well fed. A great way to give your plants their best shot is to make sure you plant within your zone. If you follow the guidelines for your planting zone, plant on time, and plant only what can grow in your location, you are making wise choices for your garden. This equates to great care.

■ As crucial as watering is, it is as important to know how to water your plants. If you water the entire plant, you are leaving room for diseases to happen. Instead, try to water the root of the plant. Avoid getting water on any blooms or foliage of the plant. It is easier to water the right amount as well, by avoiding overhead watering systems and stick with soaker hoses.

■ The final tip to caring for your garden is to make sure you close out the year well. When you are done gardening for the year, be sure to clean the garden up. Remove dead plants and any stray tools or debris. Finish the job by covering the gardening area in compost, manure, and mulch. It will give your soil a boost for the next growing season and will protect it as well. You could even plant a cover crop over your garden to provide the soil with another layer of protection.