Vegetable Gardening Basics

Vegetable Basket 210

1. There are two growing seasons for vegetables

Warm season crops (March ­– September): beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, tomato, squash, watermelon and zucchini.

Cool season crops (October – April): arugula, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chard, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, radish and spinach.

2. What do the numbers on fertilizer mean?

N-K-P= Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Nitrogen is for greening plants, Phosphorus for flowering, and Potassium for root health. When starting plants increase nitrogen (N) in the soil to get the plant started. When looking for fruit sets or blooms increase phosphorus (K). For root health and growth add potassium (P). For tomatoes, beans and peas, once they are established, switch from high nitrogen content to high phosphorus to get great tasting tomatoes, not just beautiful vines.

3. Deciding what to grow

Plant what you like to eat. If you love beans, peppers, onions and carrots, plant them. Hate Brussels sprouts? Then, plant something else.

4. Basic requirements

• 6 to 8 hours of direct sun (more is better)
• Well-draining soil
• Soil in foothill areas is alkaline and needs compost and calcium
• Well-amended soil
• Add additional gypsum to soil for squash and tomatoes
• Regular watering schedule

5. How to transplant vegetables

Dig a hole in the soil twice the diameter of pot, fill with compost and lightly pack around root ball. Separate root clusters of root bound plants before transplanting. Add steer manure or chicken manure to increase the nitrogen in garden soil. Wait two weeks before planting if steer manure has been added. The high nitrogen content of steer manure will burn the plants if sufficient time has not passed to reduce the manure level in the soil. Chicken manure is slightly more forgiving.

6. Determinate vs. indeterminate tomatoes

Determinate tomatoes will produce one crop where all the fruit ripens at the same time. Indeterminate tomatoes will provide a constant crop of ripening fruit all season. When choosing tomatoes determine the purpose of the tomato vine. Are you looking to can or dry a large batch of tomatoes, or have a continual supply of fresh tomatoes all season?

7. Water schedule

For vegetables it is better to establish a watering schedule. By watering on schedule you do not dilute the flavor of your vegetables or provide to little or too much stress. The exception is tomatoes, the do better at setting fruit if they are slightly stressed. For the first week after setting out plants, it is best if you water daily until the plant is established. After about a week then• Water deeply and thoroughly, let soil surface dry between watering

• Water daily during hot weather or at least every two days
• Water established plants once to twice a week-after 6 weeks

8. Mulching

Mulch can be any material used to cover the surface of the garden soil and protect plant roots from heat, cold, or drought, or to control weeds. They can also reduce water consumption in the garden. Mulches help to make more attractive and higher yielding vegetable gardens. Spread mulch over the ground surface around established plants or over the entire growing area in a layer 2 to 5 inches deep. Popular mulch choices are; composted sawdust, bark, leaves, hay, straw or ground corncobs.

9. Periodic feeding 

• Fertilize container plants, with fish emulsion mixed into water 
• Fertilize once every 6 to 8 weeks

10. Plant care

• Provide support for plants with heavy fruits and vines
• Inspect plants frequently for insects, caterpillars, slugs and snails
• Diseases, treat immediately

11. What you’ll need for vegetables and herb care 

E.B. Stone® Planting Compost
E.B. Stone® Edna’s Best Potting Soil
E.B. Stone® SureStart
E.B. Stone® All Purpose Plant Food
For whiteflies, aphids, spider mites: Bonide® Tomato & Vegetable 3 in 1
For caterpillars: Bonide® Thuricide
For slugs & snails: Bonide® Slug Magic
For powdery mildew: Bonide® Tomato & Vegetable 3 in 1

12. Combination gardening

Plant marigolds with your vegetables, it is a mild deterrent to insect infestations. Plant basil with your tomato for a beautiful look, and it’s an easy harvest for tomato basil salads.

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