There is something rewarding in growing your own food. Perhaps, it has something to do with residual hunter and gatherer feelings or perhaps we just want to save some money on groceries. Either way, planting your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be an exciting adventure during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months.
If you choose to start your crops from seed, it is best to plant them a few weeks before the last spring frost. http://www. almanac.com/content/vegetable-garden-planner is an excellent resource listing specific time frames.
Provides an excellent list of planting dates for all fruits and vegetables.
Starter plants are an excellent way to begin your garden especially for those who don’t have the time, room, or patience for seeds. When choosing any starter plants you should look for healthy, green foliage devoid of any fungus or insects. You may also inquire about the type of insecticides used in the garden center or nursery where your plants are being purchased. You want your plants to be harmless for eventual consumption.
After choosing the best way to start your garden, the location of the plants and the care are the most important part of food gardening.
-Broccoli is a cool weather plant and thrives in the early Spring and Fall. They should be planted in full sun and do best in a slightly acidic soil. Plants should be placed 1/2″ deep and in a row with plants 12″-24″ apart and 36″ between rows. Broccoli should be kept moist but take extra care not to get developing heads wet. Plants should be fertilized three weeks after planting.
-Cauliflower, like Broccoli, is a cool weather plant and should be planted in full sun. Cauliflower grows best in a soil that has a pH level between 6.5 and 6.8. The Farmer’s almanac recommends that you start cauliflower from plants rather than seed. Plants should be planted in rows 18″-24″ apart with 30″ between rows. Plants should be watered constantly and often require supplemental watering even after natural rainfall. Cauliflower should be fertilized when planted. They should be planted in an area where they will have an uninterrupted growth so as not to develop prematurely.
– Cucumbers will grow in any amount of space which makes them perfect for garden beds and pots. They should be planted in an area that receives full sun with an ideal soil pH of 7.0. Soil should be well drained but kept moist and the Farmer’s Almanac recommends mixing compost or manure in the soil before planting. Using a trellis provides support for your plants and also adds interest to your garden. Plants should be watered constantly in the morning or early afternoon but make sure to avoid the leaves. Mulching around your plant with also help maintain soil moisture.
-Eggplants grow best in high temperatures but should be consistently watered and kept slightly moist. Plants should be placed 24″-30″ apart in beds but can also be grown in large pots. As plants grow they should be staked and fertilized every two weeks during the growing season.
-Peppers are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They do well in the ground as well as pots. They should be planted in a spot that gets full sun and has well drained soil. Staking is necessary for maintaining your plants but should be done as the plants grow. Burpee recommends using nylon stockings to attach your plants to stakes instead of twist ties which can damage their delicate stems. Depending on the variety of pepper, plants should be placed 12″-18″ apart. Peppers should be watered often but should also be allowed to dry between waterings. Overwatering can damage the root system and lead to rotting. Fertilizing the soil before planting is best and peppers should not need to be fertilized again.
-Squash should be planted in full sun with moist but not soggy soil. The Farmer’s Almanac recommends mixing the soil with compost and fertilizer before planting and should be fertilized again with a small amount of fertilizer when the first blooms begin to show and fertilized occasionally during the harvest. Mulch can be used to protect the delicate roots of the plants which should be watered heavily once a week.
– Tomatoes should be planted in a spot that gets full sun and has well drained soil. It is recommended to till your soil one week before planting and make sure to add some type of fertilizer. Tomato plants need to be secured due to their top heavy nature. It is best to place stakes or tomato cages at the time of planting. They should be planted two feet apart and deep enough for the lowest leaves to be just above the soil. Water well and often during the first few weeks or planting and maintain a steady watering schedule during the summer months. The Farmer’s Almanac recommends fertilizing two weeks before and two weeks after the first picking.
There are endless choices of annuals and perennials for you to plant in your garden but most fruits and vegetables can be easy and enjoyable to cultivate and can add to a happy, healthy, and Eco friendly lifestyle.
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