Plan, Plant and Prosper: Vegetable Garden Tips

Were you disappointed with last year’s vegetable garden? 

If so, don’t despair: here are some tips to help you make your best vegetable garden ever!

Plan before you plant:

Planning ahead of time will save you time, money and frustration.  In order to plan, you need to know where your vegetable garden will be and the conditions that prevail.  Is it sunny all day, or partly shady?  Is it sandy soil, or clay?  Is it exposed to wind or is it sheltered.

You’ll need to choose the vegetable plants that will do well in this particular location – and that will do well when planted together. If you want to plant lettuce and squash, you’ll probably need to have vegetable beds in two different locations: one in a partly shady spot and one in full sun. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to start those plants off from seed or planting seedlings?

If you’re a gardening novice, then take photos and notes and head on down to your garden center for advice.

vegetable garden

Plant Productively:

The best way to plant vegetables is to do so with a harvest in mind.  If you want to reap for longer, you’ll need to plant successive crops.  Many vegetables have varieties that ripen at different times.  Check before you plant.  If you’re planting vegetables that all ripen at exactly the same time, you’ll end up with a huge harvest and not be able to use all the vegetables you reap.  While you can always donate and give away the excess, you also don’t want to be left with nothing else ripening for the rest of the season.

While all this planning might feel like a chore, if you take care of it before you begin preparing your beds, you’ll find that you do less work for better results.

Here’s a link to a vegetable garden planner you’ll find helpful.

 

Dead Or Alive?

dead plant

deadYour plant looks as if it has gone on to the happy hunting grounds, but is it really dead or is there still life inside?

 

Here are a few ways you can check to see whether it can be revived:

  • Is there any green in it?  Are there still some green leaves or twigs to be seen?  If you cut a twig or stem is it green inside?  If so, don’t give up on it just yet.  Cut off the dead foliage and water it.  It may just recover!
  • Did you water it too much?  If so the leaves may be yellow or brown.  They’ll likely be limp or at least soft.  In that case check the soil.  If it’s very moist or waterlogged this could be the problem.  Make sure there’s proper drainage and allow the soil to dry out before watering again.  When you do water, do so sparingly.
  • Did you water too little?  If the leaves are dead and hard on the edges and if the soil is rock hard and pulling away from the sides of the pot, this is likely the problem. Cut off the dead foliage. Make sure there’s proper drainage then start watering that plant.  Set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to water it twice a day. It may well recover.
  • Is it getting too much sun?  If the leaves look as if they have brown spots or burnt areas, this plant probably needs some shade.  Cut off the dead foliage, move it out of the direct sun and water it.
  • Is it getting too little sun?  If the leaves appear pale and wan and limp, this could be the issue.  Especially if you recently moved the plant from one position to another.  Change the position so it’s getting the right amount of light and / or sun depending on the plant and water as usual.
  • Plants often like humidity, especially indoor plants.  They absorb moisture through the leaves so make sure it’s not being dried out in the position it’s currently in.
  • Is the plant starving?  it might be deficient in some nutrients. Ask your garden center which fertilizer would be best for this plant then apply as per product directions.
  • Is it time to say goodbye?  If you’ve done all you can do to revive the plant and it’s not working… well it’s probably time to head down to your garden center and get a new plant to love and care for!

fall color mums

Container Gardening 101

container gardening

Successful container gardening is easy with these basics:

Remember that when you are planting a container you are dealing with a different environment than you are when you plant directly into your garden.

Fall Planting Container Gardening

You have to treat the container as a micro-environment, not as part of the entire garden. 

Here’s what you need to do:

 

 

  1. Choose the right container for the plants and visa versa
  2. Make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom so that it doesn’t become water logged
  3. Add some drainage medium – small gravel or stones works well – in the bottom of the container
  4. Use potting mix as your planting medium, not just soil you dug up from your garden
  5. Soak the plants you’re going to plant in the container in a bucket of water – push the pot into the water until all the air bubbles escape.  Leave the plant to soak while you prepare the container.
  6. Remove the plants you’re going to put in the container from the pots in which they were sold – use your fingers or a small garden fork to tease the roots apart.  Many of these plant have become somewhat root bound and will grow better if you ‘unbind’ the roots so they can reach out for water.
  7. Add bone meal and fertilizer. Ask your garden center which will work best with your chosen plants.
  8. Wet the soil mix  in the container and then plant the plants in the grouping you want.  Ask your garden center for advice about container companion planting to ensure your plants are compatible and that they’ll produce a nice show of flowers and foliage throughout the season.
  9. Be sure to get the soil off the leaves and stems of the plants.  Cover the roots. with soil
  10. Water the planted container thoroughly but not so much that the water runs out the bottom as this will wash out all the nutrients.
  11. Water the container at least twice a day, especially as the weather warms.  Remember that container soil will warm up and dry out quicker than garden soil as it’s exposed on the sides to the sun and the heat.
  12. When blooms fade, if the plant requires deadheading do this to prolong the blooming seasonContainer Gardening

Helping Your Garden Recover From Winter

helping your garden recover from winter

This Winter was a doozy!  Here are a few tips to help you bring your garden back to its vibrant best.

 

Tip 1:

The good news is that lots of snow isn’t always bad.  Snow actually insulates the roots of plants.  When it doesn’t snow and just gets cold, roots are not protected and they run the risk of freezing which will often kill off the plants.

Tip 2:

helping your garden recover from winterCut off the dead leaves and twigs and aerate the soil around the roots.  Water as usual and wait a while.  Those ‘dead’ plants may well surprise you with new shoots as the weather warms.

 

 

Tip 3:

helping your garden recover from winterCheck for split or broken branches, road salt damage or other damage that could hinder the plant’s recovery.  Trim off these damaged areas. In the case of split or broken branches, make a clean cut above the break so that the branch can heal. Make sure to hire a professional arborist to remove larger branches as these can be very unstable and dangerous.  If in doubt, take a photo and ask your local garden center’s advice.

Tip 4:

helping your garden recover from winterA quick way to tell if a plant has actually died or if life still lingers is to check to see if the stems are completely dry and brown inside or if there appears to be a hint of green or white inside which indicates that there’s still sap flowing.

 

 

Tip 5;

If the stems or branches appear dead, sometimes the plant will shoot again from the roots, so be patient and wait a while before ripping it out of the ground.

Tip 6:

helping your garden recover from winterTake care when trimming evergreens with foliage damage.  Don’t prune the foliage any more than normal as you might end up with bare patches.  Instead wait a while as new foliage will likely make an appearance soon.

 

 

Tip 7:

As the weather warms, prune, water and fertilize.  Ask your local garden center about the correct fertilizer and amount of water for your specific plant.

Tip 8:

helping your garden recover from winterIf you notice that your shrubs such as hydrangeas are not blooming after this hard winter, don’t worry too much.  They will probably begin blooming again the next season.

 

 

Tip 9:

For shrubs and plants that were flattened under the snow, give them time to rejuvenate unless they are actually broken or the roots pulled out.

Tip 10:

Make a note to mulch around your plants, shrubs and trees before next winter sets in.  This is the best way to avoid damage to the roots.