Vegetable Gardens Tips

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Grow Your Own Food

Growing fruits and vegetables is a great way to save money on your grocery bill. Getting set up may take some time and a bit of a financial investment, but once you learn how to grow and preserve your own food, you will not believe the savings.

If you decide to plant fruit trees, it is important to remember that your return will not be immediate. Most fruit trees take five years before they really begin producing enough to store. This is not always the case, just the basic rule of thumb.

Vegetables on the other hand will produce in the same season. By using various planting techniques such as intercropping and two level planting you can get a large enough harvest from even a tiny piece of land to eat fresh produce as it becomes available and still have enough to preserve for winter use.

Growing your own herbs is another way to save money. Herbs can be expensive and the ones from the store are often old. There is no way to know when you buy bottled herbs how old they are. If you grow and dry your own, you will know. Herbs should be used up within a year for maximum taste. If you just want to use your herbs fresh when they are in season, there is nothing wrong with this either. For the price you would pay for one bottle of herbs you can have an entire plant that will grow, multiply and produce numerous bottles of herbs over many years.

How can I keep my cucumbers from being bitter?

Avoid Bitter Cucumbers

The key to keeping your cucumbers from being bitter is water. Cucumbers require at least one inch of water every week. Cucumbers that miss out on being watered regularly -- even once or twice -- will become bitter.

Is it true you shouldn't plant certain vegetables next to each other in the garden?

Vegetables Are Picky About Their Neighbors

Some vegetable seeds do better or worse based on what is growing near them. Here are vegetable combinations that tend to work well together.

*Beets grow well alongside cabbage, onion, broccoli and cauliflower.

*Carrots grow well alongside peas, turnips, cucumbers, or tomatoes seeds.

*Corn grows well with peas, beans, squash, and melon seeds.

Avoid planting the following vegetable seed varieties next to each other:

*Squash and radishes

*Peas and cauliflower

*Pole beans and beets

Which vegetables are considered warm season vegetables?

Warm Season Vegetables

Warm season vegetable seeds are those that should not be planted until warm weather is truly established.

The following vegetables are considered warm season crops: beans, corn, eggplant, melon, okra, pepper, pumpkin, sweet potato, and tomato.

You should always read the back of your vegetable seed packet to ensure you are planting your seeds during their optimum growing period.

Do you have any advice on the layout of a vegetable garden?

Tips for Laying Out Your Vegetable Garden

The layout of your vegetable garden is very important. You should plant vegetable seeds which produce tall crops on the northern side of your garden. This will keep your tall crops from shading your short crops.

When planning your rows, you should plant vegetable seed families together. Here is a list of vegetable families that will help you plan your garden's layout.

*Vine Crops: cucumbers, squash and melon

*Root Vegetables: turnips, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, leeks and carrots

*Legumes: peas, limas and beans

*Brassicas: broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower

How do I extend my garden's harvest time?

Succession Planting

Succession planting ensures that your vegetable garden is brimming with a harvest the entire growing season. After you harvest one vegetable, you can replant one or more different vegetable seeds in its place. Here are a few succession planting ideas for you.

After you have harvested your leaf lettuce, you can plant squash or bush beans.

When your radish crop is nearing completion, you can replant the area with your cucumber seeds.

Follow up your cabbage crop by planting snap beans. When your snap beans are harvested, you can use the area a third time by planting your fall lettuce.

What kind of soil works best for root crops?

Tips for Planting Your Root Crops

The key to producing a plentiful root crop is the soil preparation. These vegetable seeds need a loose, friable soil that is heavily worked.

Root crops prefer to be planted in raised beds and planted in blocks, rather than rows. You should till the bed where you will be planting the vegetables seeds to at least an eight inch depth. As you are tilling the bed, you should work organic matter into the soil.

Which is better, hybrid or non-hybrid vegetable seeds?

Hybrid and Non-Hybrid Vegetable Seeds

When you order vegetable seeds, you may have the choice between hybrids and non-hybrids. Hybrid vegetable seeds tend to be more reliable because they have been produced in conditions that are controlled. This means they may be more resistant to diseases and more productive. Non-hyrbids are also known as “open-pollinated” varieties or heirloom varieties. Of the two, hybrids are thought to be the more trustworthy. However, there are gardeners who do insist on only using non-hybrids year after year.

Are there any vegetables I can grow in the fall?

Fall Vegetables

There are many fall vegetables that can withstand a light, early frost. The key is to know which vegetables will be productive in a cool climate, and to purchase those that have the earliest maturing varieties. Beets, onions, rutabagas, spinach, turnips, leaf lettuce, kale and cabbage can all be considered a fall growing vegetable. Before you plant your fall vegetable seeds, you should water the site the day before you sow. As the days grow shorter, you should ensure that your seeds are able to soak up every minute of sunshine they will receive. You can do this by applying a water-soluble fertilizer weekly.

Can you give tips on planting cool season vegetables?

Planting Tips for Cool Season Vegetables

Around your long season vegetables (those that require 70 or more days to produce) you can plant cool season vegetables. The key is to plant your cool season vegetable seeds early, as they like the chilly, damp season. The following list of vegetable seeds is considered cool weather crops: cauliflower, brussels sprouts, parsnips, artichokes, beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, radish and spinach. Be mindful that some cool season vegetable seeds do better when planted in a flat first, then transplanted into the garden. These vegetable seeds include cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Where in the garden should I plant my corn?

Tips for Planting Corn

Corn does best when it is planted where it will receive a full day of sun. When planting, you should make sure the area is away from trees or buildings which could cast a shadow over your garden.

Corn seeds should be planted at least 10 inches apart in a trench. When the vegetable seeds start to sprout and grow, you should hill up the soil around it. This will support the plant as it grows, and it also keeps weed at bay.

You should plant your sweet corn in blocks. It is best to have at least four rows per block as this will help with pollination.

What kind of soil should I plant carrots in?

Tips for Planting Carrot Seed

It is important that carrot seeds are planted in a deeply worked soil that drains well. Raised beds are the choice of many as the soil is generally loose and stone-free. The reason this vegetable seed needs such well worked soil is because of the taproot. If it meets an obstacle, such as a rock or clay soil, it will either quit growing or branch off.

You should plant carrot seeds about two weeks before the last expected frost. When planting, you should try to place them a half inch apart. You can make successive plantings every three weeks thru midsummer.

Why should I buy my seeds from a popular garden center?

Be Careful Where You Purchase Your Vegetable Seeds

You should only buy your vegetable seeds from reputable gardening companies. These businesses are credible – and you can be assured that their seeds have undergone research and trials.

Vegetable seeds are living organisms and they do have a shelf life. Under the law, vegetable seed packets are required to state their intended growing season. Do not fall prey to someone peddling old seeds.

What is the benefit of ordering my vegetable seeds early?

Order Your Vegetable Seeds Early

You should purchase your vegetable seeds early -- as the supply of popular vegetable seeds can be stripped bare when the planting season finally arrives. When you order your seeds early, you can group them together by their growing season using rubber bands. You should group your vegetable seeds into three categories: 1) Seeds that should be planted as soon as the ground is ready. 2) Seeds that should be planted two to three weeks before the frost-free date in your growing area. 3) Seeds that should not be planted until all frost danger has passed. Seeds will keep until planting time, especially those that are purchased through reputable companies – as their seeds are generally packaged in moisture vapor packets.

Should I plant my vine crops directly in the ground?

Tips for Planting Vine Crops

The squash family consists of many plants including the melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. While each vegetable is different, the vegetable seeds generally like the same culture.

This crop does not like being transplanted. You should sow these vegetable seeds directly into the ground in which they will remain throughout the season. Most vine crops do well when planted in mounds. The mounds can be one to two feet in diameter – although you should allow more room for larger squashes and pumpkins.

vegetable seeds

Treated Vegetable Seeds

Treated vegetable seeds are seeds that have been coated with a chemical fungicide which protects them from disease. This protection lasts from planting time until the sprout emerges from the ground. Treated vegetable seeds are fast becoming the choice of many in both the small-scale and commercial sectors.

You should keep in mind that the chemicals used on the vegetable seeds contains dyes. People and animals should not nibble on the seeds.

What is Meant by Crop Rotation?

Why Crop Rotation is so Important in Vegetable Gardens

Whether you're a beginning vegetable gardener or one with a lot of experience, the valuable lesson you can learn about replanting your vegetable garden year after year, is the importance of crop rotation. Many of the diseases that affect plants lie dormant in the soil. During the growing season, while vegetables are growing in the ground, or in raised beds, the plants leach nutrients from the soil. This occurs naturally, and leads to the need for fertilizers.

Soil Nutrient Depletion

When the soil loses nutrients, and those aren't replaced by things such as green manure or compost, the soil becomes more susceptible to diseases. It's kind of like the things that happen to people to compromise their immune systems. The healthier the quality of the soil, the more capable it is of fighting off disease spreading insects, or worse, diseases that lie dormant in the soil.

Why Rotate Crops

The purpose of crop rotation is two-fold. On one hand, it prevents the soil from getting more and more depleted of nutrients, something that leads to severe soil erosion. Soil erosion compromises the integrity of top soil, potentially contaminating nearby water sources, and turning into dust producing dust storms when winds are exceedingly strong. The Dust Bowl of the 1930's affected the entire state, but the most severe damage occurred in the panhandle area. Drought and overuse of the land were the chief causes of this because cattle grazed on the land where grass had kept top soil in place. The more people plant the same crop in the same place, the greater the likelihood that the same thing could happen again.

The Irish Potato Famine was initially caused by an airborne fungus that traveled to the United Kingdom from Mexico. The fact that the poor Irish peasant farmers continued to plant potatoes just caused the fungus to spread, ultimately resulting in a famine that killed many thousands of people from typhus and other diseases. By continuing to plant potatoes after the initial fungus outbreak, the farmers insured that the fungus would continue to spread.

What is Crop Rotation?

Crop rotation simply means planting different vegetables in different places year after year. It requires that gardeners remember where different vegetables were planted each year. Garden design software or a simple pencil and paper drawing can accomplish this. Ideally, you should avoid planting the same types of vegetables in the same place. In other words, if you plant butternut squash in a certain location, you wouldn't want to plant other types of squash there. Likewise, it would be wise not to plant vegetables that grow on vines that run along the ground there.

Plan your garden so that vegetables that are more sensitive to the hottest part of the sun can be protected by the foliage of other plants. When planting, allow enough space that plants won't touch or create concealed places where insects can nest or diseases can lie dormant. Remove diseased plant debris as soon as you discover it, and keep your garden weeded. All of these things will prevent the development and spread of diseases and prevent insects from laying eggs there and spreading disease as they travel between plants.

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Sheri Ann Richerson
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