Mid-Season Vegetable Garden Tips

 

Your vegetable garden is all planted; things have come up and started growing. You may think that all you have left to do now is sit back and wait for your garden to start producing those juicy fresh vegetables you’ve envisioned picking off your plants. You can do just that, and if you get the rains just right, and the weeds don’t take over your garden, you’ll get some produce from your vegetable garden.

However; if you want to get the most return for your effort and investment in planting your vegetable garden, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your garden;

  •  Water; getting the right amount of water at the right time is very important to your plants. Sufficient water is necessary for your plants especially while they are still immature in order for them to mature into healthy plants that will produce quality vegetables for you. Failure to get regular watering will result in stunted weak plants that will produce poorly if they produce at all. This is slightly less important after they mature but if you want them to produce for you, you will see that they get regular watering.
  • Mulch; mulch will help your plants in 3 ways; it will hold moisture thereby reducing the amount of watering necessary, it will keep the sun from burning the roots, and it will provide nutrients as it decomposes. The best mulching material is compost that has already started decomposing, but any natural mulching material is better than none.
  • Weeding; when you allow weeds to grow around your plants they compete for the available moisture and nutrients. Weeds are much better competitors than vegetable plants and will starve your plants for moisture and nutrients. It is better to pull the weeds up by the roots just after watering than to cut them off at the ground with a hoe. Hoeing leaves the root systems intact to compete with your vegetables and grow a new weed.
  • Pruning; most vegetable plants need pruning to produce their best. Pruning your plants allows them to focus their energy upon vegetable production rather than unnecessary foliage. Some foliage is necessary so be careful to avoid over pruning as this can stunt or even kill your plants.
  • Shade; some plants benefit from shade during the hottest part of the day. Even plants that are supposed to grow in direct sunlight such as tomatoes and peppers can benefit from shade during the hottest part of the summer. I plant rows of field corn spaced around my vegetable garden to provide shade. During the early part of the season when the plants need direct sunlight the corn is short and doesn’t block off the sun, but as the season progresses into the hottest part of the summer, the corn is taller and provides needed shade for part of the day. The corn stalks also make good trellises for climbing beans or peas.
  • Pest Control; bugs and caterpillars can eat your entire vegetable garden. The best way I know to control pests without chemicals is to get out in your garden early and late and pick them off your plants destroying any eggs you find on the underside of the leaves. I have tried many natural remedies for pests but none of them work as well as disposing of them manually (my chickens follow me around when I do this waiting for me to throw them the bugs and caterpillars).

Now is also the best time to plan your fall vegetable garden. Some vegetables seem to do best if planted in the fall and allowed to grow all winter. Some of the veggies that do well in cold weather are; carrots, greens, garlic, and onions. There are many others but these are mainly what I plant.

There, you now have some ways to enhance the productivity of your vegetable garden without much effort. If you will do these things, you will be rewarded with many more vegetables for your effort, and a healthier better looking garden, too.

 

 

 

Growing Sweet Potatoes

If you plan to grow sweet potatoes in your vegetable garden, there are a few things you

Growing Sweet Potato Slips

need to know. You do not plant them the same as regular potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are different in that they grow “slips” from the potato. Slips are grown by placing a sweet potato in an area where they will get diffused sunlight. Keep them out of the direct sun. We place ours on a bed of moist sand or soil to prevent them from drying out. They will start growing sprouts. These sprouts are called slips. One potato will grow many slips over a period of several weeks.

When the slips are 4 to 6 inches long they can be removed carefully by twisting at the base where it grew from the potato until it separates from the potato. The base of the slip is then placed in a container of water like a cut flower and left for a week or so until it grows roots. The slips grow roots quickly. The slip can then be planted in your vegetable garden. You can also buy slips ready for planting at many nurseries and feed stores as well as ordering them from seed companies.

Sweet potatoes prefer a relatively warm soil temperature of 70 degrees or so. They do best in loose soil to make their tubers, and they need moisture on a regular basis (especially when first planted and roots are developing).

I prepare the soil by first digging a trench 12 inches or so deep and lining the bottom with old hay (the older the better). I make the layer of hay 6 to 8 inches deep to provide a bed for the tubers to form and grow. Then, I cover the hay with 4 inches or so of soil.

I also mulch heavily around the base of the plants. This helps retard the growth of undesirable weeds and helps keep the soil moist allowing the plants to thrive. Sweet potato plants will grow vines which will also help shade the ground and preserve moisture.

Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest in the fall when the plant dies back. They are harvested by digging up the roots (tubers) from the layer of hay. Spread the potatoes out in the shade on a dry tarp or cloth to allow them to dry thoroughly before storing them in a cool, dry, and dark place.

They will keep all winter in this manner if kept on a layer of hay and covered with a little hay. They need to be kept dry and from freezing. You can store them in other mediums (dry sand, for instance) if you wish. I just grow my own hay and have it available.

Sweet potatoes are easy to grow and do not require a lot of care. You just need to insure they get enough moisture throughout the season and pull any weeds that happen to get through your mulch. They are a hearty plant and will thrive with just minimal care. You will be rewarded with delicious sweet potatoes that you can enjoy all winter. Be sure to save several to grow your slips for the next spring’s planting.

Besides sweet potatoes, this is also an excellent method for growing any other kind of potatoes in your vegetable garden except they aren’t all grown from slips. We grow all our potatoes this way with excellent results.

To learn about harvesting and storing your sweet potatoes check out this article; Harvesting Sweet Potatoes .

For a complete selection of tools and accessories to make your gardening more enjoyable
and productive click the link below!

garden tools

Dry Weather Vegetable Garden

Dry Weather Garden

        How to have a successful vegetable garden with little or no rain.

This past summer in my area was very dry with almost no rain during most of the growing season. This made it necessary to water my vegetable garden every night since the dry weather was accompanied by some of the hottest temperatures in local history. Most gardens in the area were non-productive or did not survive at all due to the weather.

This year I am arranging my vegetable garden differently to allow for more effective and easier watering just in case we encounter the same conditions again. I lived for some years in Arizona and observed how they set up their gardens there where they get very little rain so I am using some of their methods.

Here is a way to have a productive dry weather vegetable garden;

  1. Rather than planting in rows and hills as we normally do, this year I have dug little moats about 6 or 8 inches deep around each place I put a vegetable plant. This will hold the water until it soaks into the soil and becomes available to the roots.
  2. I am mulching heavily around the base of the plants to hold the moisture and help keep it from evaporating. This also helps protect the roots from the heat of the sun.
  3.  I have placed soda bottles with bottom or top removed over plants to act as a mini greenhouse until plant gets too big or weather gets too hot. This has 3 benefits; it cuts down on evaporation, retains warmth at night, and protects the seedlings from insect and wind damage. Be sure to provide ventilation if using bottoms and remove caps from tops.
  4. I have planted rows of field corn with climbing beans oriented north to south to provide shade for my plants except when the sun is directly overhead. These rows are spaced about 12 to 15 feet apart to allow room for my vegetable plants.
  5. Water after the sun is low on the evening horizon to give the water all night to soak in and allow the plant maximum time to recover from the heat of the day.

There are other methods that are effective in dry areas such as drip irrigation involving running tubes throughout your vegetable garden with drip fittings at each plant but this method involves the purchase of the tubes and fittings and most folks put it on a timer and can add up to quite an expense.

Another method used is flooding the area of the vegetable garden once or twice a week but this requires a lot of water of which approximately one third is lost to evaporation.

The method outlined above has the advantage of being cost free and effective for small non-commercial vegetable gardens. You can use this method to improve the survivability and production of your vegetable garden in even the driest of years.

For a complete selection of tools and accessories to make your gardening more enjoyable

and productive click the link below!

  garden tools