Refresh your memory with Part 1 of our two-part post on Veggie Gardening.
Now that your veggie garden is growing, routine maintenance will keep it healthy for the best production.
Allow a bit of time daily to do a visual check on your garden. This will help you notice any changes or problems that may arise. Hand-pull weeds weekly before anything gets too big. A hoe or cultivator will help knock weeds down while they’re still small.
Veggies need daily water during the growing season. Getting out into the garden and hand watering every day is simple to do and is an excellent way to become aware of any weed or pest activity. Soaker hoses or drip lines require more set up and moving parts, but can save time once they’re installed. Be sure to inspect irrigation lines routinely to make sure there are no excessively dry or wet areas.
Nutrient-rich soil is vital to productive veggie gardens. Adding compost or manure or some combination yearly will give you the best results.
Since veggies are heavy feeders, a routine application of fertilizer throughout the growing season is important for healthy plants, and a bountiful harvest. We stock a wide array of organic and conventional fertilizers available to the home gardener. A granular fertilizer can be added at planting time and will slowly feed throughout the season. Liquid fertilizers are fast acting for a quick boost, but will need to be reapplied.
Always read the label before applying of any kind fertilizer and follow the instructions precisely.
Learn more about fertilizers here
Plants that are well-maintained and healthy tend to have fewer problems with pests. If plants are stressed due to drought or crowding, they are more susceptible to insect infestations. However, even the best-kept gardens can have trouble with pests.
Here are some common offenders and treatment method. The products listed here are natural or organic controls:
• Flea beetles- These tiny insects are common on radish, arugula, lettuce, and beans. They are small, black beetles that fly and jump from host to host. If you’ve had trouble in the past, cover these crops right after planting with row cover (Dewitt™ Seed Guard). Safer™ End All insecticide can be applied if they become a problem.
• Cabbage moths- Row cover (Dewitt™ Seed Guard) will keep these little white moths from laying eggs on cruciferous (broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflowers) crops. A routine treatment of Bt (Safer™ Garden Dust) also helps.
• Cabbage Worms- These well-disguised caterpillars are the larvae of the previously mentioned moths. They chew up cruciferous crops and are often hard to spot until the damage is noticed. Use Bt (Safer™ Garden Dust)
• Aphids- These tiny insects are usually green and feed on crops by puncturing and sucking the nutrients from the foliage. They are often on inner leaves or on undersides, making them tough to spot. Knock aphid populations down with Safer™ Insecticidal Soap or a strong jet of water.
Always read the label before applying any kind of pesticide and follow the instructions precisely.
Harvesting and eating is the greatest thing about growing your own veggies.
It’s best to harvest veggies in the morning or during cool weather, so they will stay crisp and last longer.
Greens: Leaf lettuces, salad mixes, arugula, and spinach varieties can be cut with scissors as soon as they’re 2 or more inches tall. Cut young kale, chard and beet greens to add to salads. Harvest these until they ‘bolt’ or flower. Once they have bolted, they will be bitter.
Beans and Peas: Pick these often and the plants will produce for longer.
Summer Squash: Cut squash off the vine while they’re still small for best flavor.
Tomatoes: pick as they ripen, but they will continue to ripen at room temperature off the vine. Pay attention to late summer and early fall temperatures and pick your tomatoes before they freeze.
Kale and Swiss chard: Harvest early summer for salads or late season for larger leaves.
Carrots, Beets, and Potatoes: Most varieties are best harvested in the fall during cool, dry weather.
Cabbage: Harvest after a few frosts for the best flavor.
You’ll find it hard to buy veggies from the store that match the flavor of home grown. With some patience, care, and knowledge, you’ll be able to enjoy your bounty for years to come!