10 Steps To Growing Productive Vegetables

10 Steps to Growing a Productive Vegetable Garden.  Few gardening endeavors are as enjoyable or rewarding as growing your vegetables. The pure pleasure of strolling through your garden as you harvest tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and the like for that day’s meal is only heightened by the knowledge that you’re experiencing the freshest, most flavorful and nutritious produce nature can create.

1. Choose varieties that grow well in your zone. Not all vegetable varieties grow well in all areas. Ask your local nursery or cooperative extension office which varieties are best for where you live. There may be varieties that resist diseases specific to your area, or that produce better crops under your climate conditions.

2. Plant at the right time of year. Seed packets generally state the proper time to plant. In some areas planting windows are very narrow, and you must hit them reasonably precisely for a bountiful harvest. In other areas, you can plant several times over the summer and maintain a more extended harvest season. Your local nursery or cooperative extension office is the best source for local planting dates.

3. Prepare the soil adequately before planting. Work in generous amounts of organic matter such as compost or composted manure. If you don’t use composted manure, which already contains nitrogen, also work in a complete fertilizer.

4. Plant properly. Sow seed at the proper depth and space, follow the directions on the package. Vegetables planted too close will produce poorly, as to overcrowding. If you are transplanting, make sure not to plant too deep, the stems could rot, use a hand trowel to dig the hole just deep enough to bury the root ball. Make sure it is level with the surface.

5. Water consistently. Maintain even soil moisture, so plants do not dry out, but don’t over-water. Water deeply, then give the soil time to dry partially before watering again. Inconsistent watering will reduce yields in most vegetables, and make others – like cucumbers and lettuce – taste bitter. Installing a drip irrigation system connected to an automatic timer is your best bet. Soaker hoses work well also, less water on the leaves.

6. Fertilize regularly. Maintaining vigorous growth is very important with almost all vegetables. Most should be fed with a nitrogen fertilizer at least every 4 to 6 weeks. However, be careful not to over-fertilize, which can cause some vegetables, especially tomatoes, to produce less.

7. Mulch.  2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter applied over the roots of your vegetable plants will cool the soil, reduce weeds, and help prevent soil moisture fluctuations that ruin quality. It is handy to have a compost pile or a composter. If you do not have compost pile start today. Utilize all you waste.

8. Eliminate weeds. Weeds compete with vegetables for water, nutrients, and sunlight, thus reducing yields. Pull weeds by hand and cultivate the soil frequently to keep them to a minimum. Weeds do help hold water I just cut the flowers to prevent more seeds.

9. Harvest often. Many vegetables, especially beans, squash, peppers, and cucumbers, will stop producing if not harvested frequently. I Pick every day in July and August. If you can’t eat all you gather, vacuum pack and freeze or start canning. August and September we will be canning weekly.

10. Control of insect pests. Check your plants daily. Many insects enjoy fresh vegetables as much as you do. Always keep an eye open for insect damage, and protect your plants with a solution labeled for use on vegetables. Do organic search recipes, for pest control. There is no reason to use nasty chemicals. Think about what you are putting in your mouth. I hope these tips will help with a successful growing season. 5/10/2018

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