TO DO IN THE FRUIT & VEGETABLE GARDEN
---Anne K Moore June 6, 2009---
Photos by Anne K Moore
Most vegetables grow well
in the 6.0 – 6.5 pH range. Irish
potatoes are a different crop.
They should be grown in a pH range of 5.0 – 5.5 to prevent scab
disease. Blueberries require a
very acid soil, in the pH range of 4.0 to 5.2. To find out just what your garden needs, get a soil test.
summer vegetables will languish if planted too early. They should go in the ground when soil temperature reaches
70 degrees F.
melon, and cucumbers are especially susceptible to cutworms and borers. Just as your plants are beginning to
flower and set fruit they collapse.
This is a good sign that something has invaded the stems. To thwart the moth so she cannot lay
her eggs, wrap the vegetable plant stems with cardboard or aluminum foil to
just below the soil surface. If
you grow your own from seeds, wrap the stems as they get long enough to hold
your homegrown seedlings to sun and wind before planting them out in the
garden. Give them several days of
shade, and then move them to a less shady spot for several more days. Keep repeating until they are in full
down thick mulch around your vegetables, small fruit, and fruit trees to
conserve moisture and stop weed seeds from germinating.
you find holes in your plant leaves with no sign of an insect, suspect slugs or
snails. A shallow dish of beer
sunk in at ground level will catch some of them but a better solution is to
sprinkle Diatamaceous Earth around the base of the plants.
Slugs and snails hide in
the mulch during the day and munch your crops at night. Diatamaceous Earth is a natural powder
made up of very tiny sharp particles. It is not a poison.
Soft-bodied insects are cut as they crawl over this material. Its only problem is that it is
non-selective. If good bugs crawl
over it, they can be killed too.
So it is best to only treat the base soil, not the leaves. This way, you get the culprits as they
come to feed.
do not apply insecticides when bees are flying. Pollinators are in short supply. Keep insecticides off flowers at all times. Pesticides should be a last resort. They kill all insects, including
beneficials. One big reason for
growing your own vegetables is so you know just what has gone into the soil and
on the crop. Poisons can be kept
out of the garden with some due diligence.
best, safest way to control insect damage is to handpick the culprits and drop
them into a bucket of soapy water.
They can be good at hiding and at camouflage so look in stem junctions,
along stems, and on the undersides of leaves. Remember, too, that big fat caterpillars munching your
parsley, fennel, or dill will grow up to be beautiful butterflies. Remember to plant extras for them.
out fruit trees by removing the smallest and insect-infested or diseased fruit.
is a good thing to do but do not compost diseased or insect-infested plants or
leaves. If the compost does not
get hot enough to kill the organisms you could be spreading trouble with your
sure to keep your vegetables and fruits well watered. Blueberries need water to produce next yearŐs flowers. Consistency is vital, especially with
tomato plants. An even supply of
water prevents blossom-end rot (which is a dark brown or black sunken area) on
the bottoms of tomatoes, melons, and peppers. If blossom end rot occurs, spray the plants with a calcium
solution according to label directions.
back herbs to keep them compact and prevent them from bolting (flowering). Use the snips in cooking. Keep vines and plants well staked. Regular harvesting of vegetables keeps
ripe produce promptly. If your
veggies get over-ripe, the plants will stop putting on a new crop.
leaves on blueberries may indicate iron deficiency or pH problems.
food for yourself and your family is a very rewarding experience. If you are new to gardening, start
small so that you are not overwhelmed with your first garden. With experience comes knowledge. Soon you will be sharing your produce
with your less-fortunate garden-deprived neighbors.