Thought I have to write something and this is a topic I haven’t written about much. Here are my tips
- First and foremost – get into gardening. It is a joy all along – much like raising children and seeing them grow
- Plan a good area as soon you will realize you want to grow more. If you can 100 sq. ft is plenty; about 50 sq. ft is a ‘nice patch’
- Use good soil and replenish it every year. Rake the soil every year and add top soil to make way for erosion.
- Use an organic pesticide to keep the insects away. I use Need oil mixed with a bit of mild detergent. It is very effective. Commercial neem oil solutions have ‘other’ ingredients that aren’t organic
- Water the patch diligently. Best to setup a timed sprinkler system. This way you don’t have to worry when you are away from home about your plants going dry. This is a good sprinkler where you can adjust both width and length of the area to be watered. A drip hose is probably the best and most effective way to water your plant. In my case, the slope on the bed prevents an even distribution of water.
- Test your soil. I know this might seem necessary for only those pros. We had a lot of tomatoes develop the ‘brown/rotten bottom’ and found it is because of a lack of calcium in the soil. A testing kit costs less than five bucks at your Home Depot.
- Plan what you will plant in early January. You have to start some of these veggies in February inside the home if winter is still on. Tomatoes, okra, peppers – can be nurtured indoors. While transplanting after Memorial weekend, try to reduce shock to these plants by a gradual transition. I start off by planting the seeds in foam cups. Then a couple of days before planting outside I was advised to keep the saplings close to the door so they get used to the temperate changes. You can plant the saplings with the foam cup directly – that is the advantage instead of going for those plastic containers.
- It is a good idea to build a simple fence to protect the veggies from rabbits, gophers and other creatures – even deer. Using plant stakes (those that are steel inside and coated green outside) and 1/4″ wire mesh you can build a simple fence for less than hundred dollars and you can keep reusing these season after season. Just don’t build one long fence. Build it in sections so you can remove a section to get into the patch if needed.
- Pluck okras early else they will get hardened. A good test is to twist the tip with your fingers. If they snap then they are past harvesting. Harvest them while the tip is tender.