by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener
I’m sure many of you will be making seed choices for the upcoming garden planting season as you thumb through the pages of the gardening catalogs that will be landing in your mailbox soon. Making good seed choices is but one of the many steps that must be taken to achieve enjoyment and success in the garden.
- If you do not already have an existing garden, choosing a good location is one of the first steps that should be considered. The location should contain good soil that is loose, fertile, level and drains well. Stay away from trees and bushes whose roots will compete for water and nutrients and that may shade the garden area. Having access to a water source nearby will be needed for periods of dry weather.
- Next you will want to sketch a map of the garden for plant or crop arrangement. Take into consideration the size of the garden, what you will be planting, the length of the growing season and growth characteristics of what you will be planting.
- Grow recommended varieties for your area or growing zone. I cannot stress this enough. What may grow well in Texas may not do so well here in our area. Try to choose varieties that have disease-resistance. Gardening is so much more fun if you don’t have to constantly be battling one disease/pest or another.
- Have all equipment and supplies ready. My garden must-haves are a hoe, rake, shovel, wheel barrow, measuring stick, plant identification
stakes, string and wooden stakes. I also like to wear a carpenter’s apron to store small items in such as seed packets, a felt tip marker, scissors and my phone. Make a note to get any fungicides, fertilizers and insecticides early , if you use them, so you will have them on hand when needed.
- Prepare the soil with organic matter and fertilizer and correct the acidity if needed. Another item I cannot stress enough is having your soil tested. It is very easy and inexpensive and will tell you what, if anything, your soil needs.
- Take into consideration when and how you plant vegetables. Check the hardiness of the vegetables you are planting as some can take a little frost while others cannot. The seed packet will list it as hardy, half-hardy, tender or very tender and may give you a “plant after” date. Always plant seeds at their proper planting depth.
- Keep the weeds in check. If allowed to get too large they will compete with the vegetables for water and nutrients.
- Do not let those pesky insects take over your garden and stay on top of any diseases. Rotate your crops to avoid these issues.
- Water properly during dry periods. Soak the soil thoroughly to a depth of about 6 inches. A garden will need 1 inch of water per week including rain water.
- Harvest your vegetables at their peak. Do not allow vegetables to rot in the garden.
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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