Good Things to Know For Good Things to Grow
Vegetable gardening tips abound this time of year! Tips on growing, preparing, protecting … and even some on the technical aspects, like balancing pH with various nutrients. Lots of info out there.
We know how busy most folks are, so we’ve boiled down the myriad vegetable gardening tips and advice out there into a single page to get you started and allow you to experiment a little.
And to make it a little easier still, we’ve sectioned these great vegetable gardening tips and advice into half a dozen categories you canprint and add notes in regard to your climate, location or situation.
BUILD A RAISED BED
Although not absolutely required, raised bed vegetable gardening is much better and easier to maintain, work in and harvest from than a ground level garden. Once its built and filled with soil it will become your best friend, especially if you plan on having a garden every year. It’ll help keep insects away from your plants, keep the soil warmer, be easier to organize your plantings and allow you to sit comfortably while you work!
SOIL IS MORE THAN DIRT
Whether or not you make a raised bed, here’s the first of the vegetable gardening tips to do every year. After the very last frost, till the ground using a rear tine tiller or shovel and pitchfork. Reach down and grab a handful (bare handed) of soil and squeeze into a ball. When you release it should crumble. That means it’s sandy loam and that’s good. If it doesn’t ball up, it’s sand and if it stays in a ball it’s too full of clay. Either way, the fix is pretty simple. Compost or cow poop (er … manure).
If you’re unsure, search extension office your town (ie. extension office dallas tx) using the Bing Custom Search Box right -> and take a sample for them to analyze. These are agricultural research centers offering services (usually free) with coop universities. They may even know where you can pick up a truckload of manure for free! If you’ve been building a compost bin use that material. Work into the soil and allow the manure or compost to “cook” for a week or so and you’re ready to go.
GOOD BUG BAD BUG
All insects are not evil. That said, it’s good to know a few things about how to tell the good ones from the bad. And bad means those who eat your veggies. Note: earthworms aren’t bugs and are very good for your garden.
At the top of the vegetable gardening tips list is know who your friends are! The LADYBUG (left) eats aphids, mites, mealybugs and bugs gardeners hate. Their larvae eat pests too! You can buy these babes online, at garden shops and nurseries. Other bugs that feast on the bad bugs are PREDATORY STINK BUGS, GREEN LACEWINGS and SYRPHID FLIES (which look like bees with 2 wings).
PRAYING MANTIDS are large formidable creatures who eat large insects and even caterpillars. Watch out, though. They’re so hungry and aggressive they sometimes eat good bugs. Others who eat larger insects are GROUND BEETLES and DAMSEL BUGS, who eat the insects and their eggs! Search the Google Custom Search Box (upper right) for more info on any of these.
The second best of the vegetable gardening tips is to know your enemies. Even healthy gardens will have a bad bug or two from time to time. If you see evidence of insect chewing, don’t panic. Assess the damage and maybe take the leaf or stalk to a garden shop. First, though, read the next section for advice on safe ways to fight back.
Basically, anything that looks like a caterpillar, ant, flea, grasshopper, maggot, tiny white thing, slug or snail is suspect. The image (left) is a common aphid, also known as plant lice because of their very small size (less than 1/16″ long), and anything that looks like this will eat your plants.
Rodents, rabbits and deer are problems in many parts of the country, as well, but the best way to deal with these is to build a wire mesh or other type of fence. You wouldn’t want to harm these furry things, would you?
MOTHER NATURE’S BUG REPELLENTS
The bad bugs you just read about really don’t like onion, garlic, chrysanthemums and chive. So, mother would like you to plant these around your garden, this method is called “companion planting” and is a highly effective way of controlling the bugs & aphids. Also, when watering, use a garden hose soap dispenser with a only few drops of dish soap. Bugs hate this. Weeding also prevents insect infestation. And, slugs/snails love beer. It’s lethal to them, so place a few small plates full around until the seedlings grow up.
If you still see signs of insect damage, talk to someone in the gardendepartment of a Big Box or nursery. There are many earth friendly, organic fertilizers and soil additives. Just make sure they’re earthworm friendly, too!
SEEDS AND PLANTS
If starting from seeds, buy quality ones from companies you trust and follow the instructions on the package. Also, if buying online, make sure you get seeds for your location, or buy from a local retailer. Easy vegetables to grow are beets, zucchini, summer squash, bush variety pumpkin, onions, rutabaga, leeks, shallots, tomato and peppers. Corn is easy too, but make sure it doesn’t block the sun when it grows up. Also, melons, squash and cucumbers can be trained to climb a fence if you need space.
Check with your local plant nursery or garden department of a Big Box near you for other suggestions and ask them for ideas on Companion Planting, if this interests you. Remember to water early in the morning to conserve moisture and over watering is worse than under watering. Also, remove any over ripe vegetables as this can attract unwanted pests.
A GOOD TILTH
Finally, in order to achieve “a good tilth”, which simply means having your soil create a thriving population of healthy microbes, organic material and an aerated, earthworm and good bug neighborhood, follow these vegetable gardening tips and the advice you’ll get at the garden shops and retailers.
Keep in mind that even a small amount of added compost and fertilizer helps retain water and keeping your garden healthy is the best insect block. Having a good tilth will produce large, robust, great tasting vegetables year after year and will repay all your efforts a hundred times over!
For more, search vegetable gardening tips, good tilth or any other keyword you see here using the Bing Custom Search box on the far right side of this page. Happy gardening!.
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