To encourage the vegetable gardening here are 10 perfect gardening tips that will help keep it going:

  1. It is not too late to plant the vegetable garden. Follow the link to Purdue University publication HO-186-W for best planting dates and a list of vegetables for raised beds and containers. The last page lists popular vegetables and minimum/maximum soil temperatures for planting: www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-186.pdf.
  2. There are three vital elements to a successful vegetable garden: well-amended soil, the right amount of sunlight and regular watering.
  3. The rain has pounded on gardens everywhere this spring and packed down the topsoil. That needs to be broken up so the plants can thrive. I’ve noticed the weeds don’t have a problem with this, but our tender valuable plants’ growth will be stunted if we don’t help them out.
  4. Add a small amount of water to the dried soil to soften it. (You can even add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the water to help soften the soil.) Then cultivate around the plants with a garden claw or hoe. Add more compost, sphagnum or other soil lightener, and top off with mulch.
  5. Raised beds and outside containers will dry out more quickly than in-ground beds, so water often. Water all vegetables in early morning when possible. Water deeply (1-2 inches per week). If you notice blossoms drop off vegetables, it could be the plant is exhibiting stress from not enough water. Since we know inconsistent watering can result in plant stress, it follows that this can cause diseases such as blossom end rot and can attract pests.
  6. Once your plants begin to bear fruit, pick them! The more you pick, the more fruit you will have. These plants are determined to make seed and, if fruit is left on the plant, they will make seed, think their job is done and stop producing. Pick the fruit when it is young and tender for best flavor. For maximum flavor, harvest vegetables right before they reach maturity. Allowing them to stay on the vine too long can give them a bitter taste and tough texture.
  7. Make sure your vegetables are getting the right amount of sunlight. By midsummer, the plants’ foliage can be shading other plants and causing problems by attracting insects and disease. Before this happens, prune off lower leaves and side branches so sunlight can reach the whole plant and the soil.
  8. Try succession planting, which just means planting more seed of favorite vegetables every two or three weeks so you can enjoy their fruit all season. It also means preparing transplants ahead to replace favorite plants such as tomatoes when old vines are worn out.
  9. In midsummer, give your plants a boost by working a slow-release fertilizer into the soil around their roots. Don’t overdo the nitrogen, or you will have lots of leaves and little fruit.
  10. By summer’s end a lot of us get tired and let things slide in the garden. Don’t let this happen to you — keep those weeds pulled. They rob your good plants of the nutrients and water they need to continue production.

Source : Jane Ford , Advanced Master Gardener’s column in News-Sentinel.Com

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