Sunday, May 13, 2012
10 tips for a victorious vegetable garden
#2 MAP IT
Make a list of the vegetables you want to plant and look up growing tips for each kind. The University of Illinois' horticulture extension has a handy chart to help you with this. Sketch out which vegetables will go where before you just go buying all kinds of plants at the store.
#3 MAKE YOUR BED
This is the most important part of a vegetable garden. Proper soil for a garden is soft, loose, nutrient-rich and well-drained. Northern Illinois soil does not naturally have those properties. It is hard and full of clay, so be sure to mix in an adequate amount of topsoil and a nutrient-rich amendment (like mushroom compost, Bumper Crop, or material from your own home compost pile) to prime your bed before planting.
#4 PLANT PROPERLY
Try to plant on a cloudy day or in the evening. Dig the holes for your vegetable plants as deep as their original containers, and be sure to water the plants in their original containers before planting.
#5 PUT THE 'GUARD' IN GARDEN
#6 WHACK WEEDS
#7 SOAK THOSE VEGGIES
Vegetable plants should receive 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall. Thoroughly soak the soil so the water penetrates the root zone (about 6 inches deep). A good trick to keep track of how much you're watering is to set out empty cans in the area you're irrigating. The cans will collect the same amount of water as the soil.
#8 ROTATE CROPS
Don't plant the same vegetables in the same spots year after year. Crop rotation helps guard against disease, pests and soil depletion.
#9 HARVEST CAREFULLY
Store sweet corn, peas, asparagus, and leafy crops such as lettuce in 40-degree temperatures as soon as possible to avoid decay. Pick and handle vegetables with care, as bruises cause a faster rate of decay. Check out yet another handy chart from the University of Illinois Extension to find out exactly when specific vegetables are ready to be harvested.
#10 DO YOUR RESEARCH
Always be on the lookout for new products and tricks that will help your garden do better. Talk to experienced gardeners, and pay a visit at least once a month to your local garden center to see if there's anything else you need or could use. You should remember that your garden, as well as your whole landscape, is alive. It is like a natural construction site. Things are always changing, and if you take the time to keep up with the changes and the maintenance duties, you will see a significant return on your investment.
When grown right, vegetables in your backyard are cheaper, fresher and more readily available than those from the grocery store. Gardening is also a fun and educational experience for kids, and any help you enlist from the family will make it seem less like a chore.
You've read the tips. Now get outside, get your hands dirty and get growing!
Information in this post provided by Whispering Hills staff and the University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.