19 December 31, 2008

Well, another year is over. Gardening was definitely a challenge this year. The summer was very wet and many plants suffered from bacterial diseases. It made it hard to grow a good crop of vegetables and many perennials that bloom in the summer were hit too. What 2009 will bring for weather is anyone’s guess. Weather is either the gardener’s best friend or the gardener’s biggest enemy. We can’t control the weather but we can take some time now to plan out how we will garden in 2009.


One of the biggest mistakes that vegetable gardeners make is to try to get as much into their garden as possible. Let me give you an example. Tomatoes are a popular plant to grow in a garden. If you look at the tag that comes with the tomato plant, you will see that the plants should be space 3 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. In May, you look at that tiny tomato plant and say to yourself, “Oh, I can plant these tomato plants closer together.” But tomato plants are like a Saint Bernard puppy. They look so small when they are born. Even as a puppy they look small. But soon enough, that puppy gets real big. Ditto for those tomato plants. You will get a bigger yield of tomatoes by planting fewer plants that are spaced at the proper distances. Each plant will have enough space to develop a good root system. You will get the proper air circulation for those mature plants. Proper air circulation will help to prevent many plant diseases.


If you are growing plants in containers, “spacing” is doubly important. So often, I will have someone come into the store that is having problems with say tomato plants growing in containers. A little talking reveals that there are 2 or 3 tomato plants growing in a 5 gallon bucket. The plants are so crowded together that they cannot get enough water or fertilizer for proper growth. A 5 gallon pail is just barely large enough for 1 tomato plant.


The gist of all of this is that many of you want to grow vegetables but you are not allowing enough room for those plants to grow. You need to take some time this winter and think about what you want to grow this coming spring. Get some paper and lay out your garden. Make sure that you are following the proper spacing for the plants you want to grow. You may be surprised to find that you may have to double or triple the size of the garden. If this is practical, you can plan on digging up more lawn area and turning it into vegetable garden. If this is not practical, you can look at growing some of those plants in containers. The containers will need to be large enough and they do need to be in the sunniest areas of your yard. Ultimately, you may find that growing fewer plants is the right thing to do.


Planning for the size of your garden is an important step in being a successful gardener. Allowing enough space for your plants, annuals, perennials, or vegetables will allow your gardens to grow at maximum performance. After all, isn’t having beautiful and bountiful gardens what it’s all about?


I’ll talk to you again next week.

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