40May 23, 2012

With Memorial Day coming this weekend, many of you will be planting your vegetable gardens. Some of you may have a plot of land and others may have a few containers to use as your garden. Either way, let me give you some information that will help you to do it right.

If you are planting in containers, you must use potting soil to fill your containers. Using topsoil to save some money will result in poor yields. If you are planting tomato plants, you want only one plant per container. You will need to use a 14 inch pot or in some cases, up to a 24 inch pot for your tomato plants. Using smaller pots will result in a poor crop. Those are some basic rules for container growing of vegetables. Much of what I will talk about for planting inn the ground will also pertain to container gardening too.

Before you put your plants out, make sure that the plants are ready to go out into the garden. Some plants will have been grown in a greenhouse and then shipped directly into stores. If the plants have not been exposed to the wind, they may get windburn when you place them in the garden. It would be better for the plant if you gradually expose them to the outside elements by putting the plants outside for a short time each day and then bringing them back into the house. After a few days, the plants will “toughen up” and will be ready to plant.
Please make sure to read the tag on the plant that tells you how far apart to place the plants in the garden. Just like growing in containers, if you crowd the plants you will get a poor yield. For example, you will get more tomatoes from 2 plants properly spaced than you will from 6 plants crowded together.

When you set your plants out, either in containers or in the ground, always use a plant starter fertilizer. This type of fertilizer will help to stimulate new growth and help the plants to overcome any shock from being transplanted.

If your soil in the garden is of poor quality, add some compost or garden soil and work it into the top 6 inches of soil. Your plants need good soil for proper root growth. If the plants don’t have a good environment for the roots to grow, the garden will not give you the amount of food you want.

Once you have the plants in the garden, make sure to keep an eye out for the insects that want to feast on your garden. Cutworms live in the soil and will attack your plants by eating through the stem of the plant. You can treat the soil at planting time to kill the cutworms. Flea beetles will eat hundreds of holes in the leaves thus weakening the plant. Peppers and eggplant are particularly fond food of the flea beetle. You can spray the leaves with any product labeled for use on vegetables to control flea beetles. The good news is that once the plants get bigger, flea beetles stop being a problem.

The soil in your gardens or in your containers needs to keep moist but not soaking wet to encourage the roots to take hold in the soil. This is vitally important in the first few days. Try to do your watering in the morning to allow the foliage to dry before night. Wet foliage at night can lead to fungus diseases. If we get rainy days, you can prevent the formation of fungus diseases by using a product called Serenade. This is an organic spray that will prevent the formation of fungus diseases. This works well on plants. It is very effective at preventing diseases on squash and cucumbers.

Well that’s all for this week. The store is open all weekend, including the holiday. If you have more questions, we will be there to help you out. I’m sure it will be busy, so if you call, you may get the answering machine. Better to stop by the store if you need help.

Happy Memorial Day and I’ll talk to you again next week.

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