--- Anne K Moore
April 3, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---
When choosing seeds for the vegetable garden, look
for varieties that mature early, midseason, and those that mature late. Be ready to plant again once your first
crop is finished. This practice is
called succession planting. Garden
soil with no garden plants is an open invitation to weeds.
Most radish seeds are for early spring crops. There are also late maturing
radishes. One of my favorite late
radishes is the Daikon, an Asian white winter radish that is very mild. You can use it in stir-fry as well as
eating it fresh or steamed. It only
takes 60 days to mature after sowing outdoors. It needs cool weather and shorter days to develop its extra
long, crisp roots. Do not plant
veggies that require cool days in hot weather or you might only get a crop of
flowers on top.
can sow onions, potatoes, turnips, lettuce, carrots, and peas early and/or late
in the season. They all like cool
weather. Hot weather will send
them to the compost heap.
If you have a long growing season, plan to sow all
kinds of beans more than once in warm weather to get successive crops. The same goes for tomatoes. Plants might not be available for a
second tomato crop. Order seeds
and start your own plants for a fall crop of tomatoes.
The hot weather lovers include melons, eggplant,
sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, and pumpkins. They shouldnŇt go into the ground until
the soil has warmed up, usually late spring. Squash belongs in this group, too.
Over the years, gardeners have tried companion
planting to ward off 'bad' insects and disease and entice 'good' insects to
visit. Some gardeners plant
marigolds, especially the single-flowered Tagetes patula, throughout the garden to keep root knot
nematodes at bay. They are
supposed to release a chemical from their roots that kills nematodes. Fish emulsion as a fertilizer is
supposed to help also. These are
old remedies. I would use them to
prevent a problem. I doubt they
would make a cure. (Beneficial
nematodes are available to control some garden pests. These are good guys; they do not attack vegetables.)
Dig your garden in any fashion that suits
you. Prepare seedbeds with compost
worked into the soil. Even if you
use chemical fertilizers, be sure you also feed the soil with natural
amendments. Chemicals do nothing
to improve soil tilth. This tip
came to us from Mary Pownall of Vail Coloroado. (Show
25/1212) 'I mix cottonseed or alfalfa meal 1/1 with fish meal
and spread it on the whole garden early (as soon as the snow melts). Does
wonders for everything.' This
works on vegetables as well as on perennial and shrub borders.
Rake the seedbeds smooth. Add stakes
for your tomatoes and peppers at the proper distances apart, before you put in
your plants. If you will be
raising vines, like pole beans or snap peas, build their structures and then
seed beside them.
Vegetables need more than sunshine and
fertilizer. DonŇt forget the
importance of pollinators in your vegetable garden. Without pollination, there will be no crop.
Entice bees and butterflies to visit by planting
annual flowers among your vegetables.
Use showy colors in blocks.
Yellow or orange cosmos (Cosmos
sulphureus 'Bright Lights') are good choices. So are zinnias.
They have the benefit of giving you cut flowers for your table. Herbs also draw in beneficial insects. Bees love borage. Look for basils that blossom, like
'Queen of Sheba' or Thai Siam Queen.
Don't forget to locate tall vegetables, like corn
or tomatoes, where they won't shade out lower growing plants. Try a little companion planting. Run squash vines or melon vines up
sweet corn stalks. If you are new
to vegetable gardening, don't plant so much that the weeding and harvesting
become a chore. Locate your
vegetable beds where you can easily add water and harvest the crops.
Grow your own good, fresh food. There is something very rewarding about
feeding your family something you grew yourself.
Root-knot nematodes are easily visible on the roots of tomato
plants. If the plant declines, the
leaves turn yellow, and it struggles along, barely setting any fruit, then dig
it up and look at the roots. The
nematodes usually show up as swollen knots.