Trying garden this year? Try these simple steps to harvest more
Gardening can be so many things: source of never-ending pleasure, good daily exercise, great hobby and so many delicious vegetables to add on your plate. Especially this year, it was hard to get even seeds. It looks like many people decided to start a garden this year when COVID-19 has made our life complicated. Why not? The vegetables we buy at store have been already sitting in a warehouse or shelf for a while. What we pick in the garden, is as fresh as it gets. You also know what is in your vegetables, herbs, berries and plants. Content of nutritious vitamins and minerals is definitely higher in fresh vegetables and herbs. You cannot lose with a garden! You can only gain.
The weather can be anything: very rainy, extremely dry, cool or very hot, windy and humid, as well. Our garden has to survive all weather conditions. Watering can be an issue. Watering too much and too frequently will harm plants and cause rotting of leaves and roots which later results in plant diseases. The best watering times are early morning and night when the sun is almost down or down. Observe plant reaction and check soil on touch, better not the surface only, but a few inches down. If it feels moist, leave those plants alone and water them next time.
After heavy rains or prolonged periods of dry and hot weather, some plants will die off regardless of what you do. I have observed that plants which I start from seeds will tolerate harsh weather much better and they will stay healthier much longer. If some plants have fallen out, start from new seeds again. Ready plants which we buy from nurseries, are generally weaker because most likely they had controlled conditions before. It might be too late restarting Bell pepper or tomatoes, but beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, not to mention green onions, lettuce, dill, parsley and basil will have enough time to mature.
We can give plants some extra nutrients, too, but the best is to keep it as natural as possible and you have to pay attention to type of soil and plant condition. It will be visible what it needs. If you have given some fertilizer your plant, but leaves are still light green, yellow with brown rims and similar, then these are insects or too wet/too dry or too heavy soil. Sometimes plants literally burn in too hot weather, then consider shading if possible.
Some plants, especially herbs with strong smell, such as basil and parsley will keep insects away. They are not all pest resistant, but in my experience, they work well together with tomatoes and lettuce. Green onions work well in my garden to prevent bugs from my peas. I usually mix up plants because I have comparatively small space, so, I cannot use separate bed for only one type of plants.
Pot marigolds (calendula) and nasturtium grow very well between my other plants. They look great and, due to their pest attracting or insect deterring properties, they help to keep my vegetables healthy. Nasturtium flowers are edible and calendula flowers cure us from many health issues. For herbal treatment purposes, we collect new and fresh blooms and dry them.
I like dill all around cucumbers. Traditionally, Latvian food uses a lot of dill, parsley and green onion. Dill regulates and normalizes blood pressure. It is believed that eating decent amount of dill will lower high blood pressure. Not like a pill, but with regular use, it becomes more normal. Parsley, dill and green onion are extra health boosters. Use parsley/dill tea compress on face and it will regain useful look. You can drink it as morning drink for general tone. Dill seeds need to be planted every 2-3 weeks (the same about lettuce and arugula) if you want to have it fresh all summer and until the first frost. We collect dill seeds to use as herb and also to have it for new plants next year. Use dill seeds when pickling cucumbers, as well.
If you see that some plant is taking over and the other one is suffering, it’s time to transplant one of them. If some plant has damaged leaves, remove them right away. Observe what’s causing it: how moist or dry the soil is, are there any bugs or insects visible and so on. Pests often love the underside of leaves.
When tomato plant becomes too bushy, we cut out the suckers (the new branches which develop in the crook between main stem and large branch). That is very necessary in the greenhouse. My tomato plants grow outdoors. I would say do not prune them too much, especially if it is a single, separately growing tomato plant. Detach suckers if you have many tomato plants growing together and they fight for space and it’s visible that plant does not produce any fruit because of too many leaves. We can always use common sense: if you leave only bare main stem, the plant will burn out in hot sun.
Garden requires daily care. Many garden works are physical work. No need for any other exercise if you work out there watering, weeding, refreshing, planting daily.