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Trying garden this year? Try these simple steps to harvest more

Small garden, big harvest

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.

Better harvest from small garden

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.

How to make gardening fun

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.

Better harvest from small garden

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.

Small garden, big harvest

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.

Efficient gardening

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.

Better harvest from small garden

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.

Better harvest from small garden

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.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. The slugs, including a couple of invasive species, have rebounded this year, as we have had a relatively mild winter and cool wet spring. These creatures can grow pretty big, as big around as your thumb and three times as long. Some things they like more than others, and they can strip a garden overnight.

    Kale, mustard and cole crops do well in the cooler, wetter times here, and provide some fresh greens in the milder winters. I grew brussels sprouts for the first time last year, and we had brussels sprouts well into spring! I only took off what we needed at any one time, and let the rest of the plants continue to develop.

    Voles have almost killed our newest cherry tree, tunneling and eating the roots. Other than the usual contenders for good food from the garden, things are doing well. Like you, I also use my spaces for multiple types of plants, vegetable and flowering. We have been eating fresh onions now too, greens included.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 29, 2020
    • Well, that sounds like a lot of bugs.
      There are things you can do about slugs, but most of them will be pesticides of some type.
      Thankfully, I cannot complain. It’s a new garden since I just moved here last year. Who knows I might move next year again. I am using completely new soil, it’s the first time I plant in it, therefore, bugs are not that noticeable yet. Well, and your garden is big, mine is tiny when compared to your farm. I am only growing the same things which we were planting back in Latvia. I have too big harvests sometimes, so, I could say I grow some things only for painting. i’m very proud of red currant and gooseberry plants which I got from previous place.
      My neighbours don’t grow anything, therefore, all squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits come here.
      I am eating lettuce, plus green onion, plus dill and some kefir with mustard and salt. Delicious and refreshing! It looks like I will have zucchinis and cucumbers soon. Cannot wait.
      I hope Lavinia you fight off these critters, at least that much that you can save some fruits and vegetables. I know it’s difficult, but that’s all we can do.
      Thanks very much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 29, 2020
      • When slugs are in high numbers, slugs we use “Sluggo”, basically iron phosphate mixed with pelleted food slugs like to eat. No poisons involved. The iron phosphate causes them to stop eating.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 30, 2020
      • That’s great.
        I haven’t had slugs in any of my gardens here in Canada. The soil was probably not that type and surrounding vegetation didn’t support them taking over.
        Good to know you have a good solution!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 30, 2020
      • The winters here are relatively mild, especially compared to Canada, and we have a long rainy season, so our native and the invasive European slugs do well here.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 30, 2020
      • I see. I really don’t like them. We had them sometimes in Latvia, but not at extremely invasive level. I think we have recently long wintery weather with not that low minuses, but just unpleasant.
        All the best to you Lavinia and your farm garden!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 30, 2020
  2. krish #

    Gardening..is a just not a creative hobby..but does give the body physical exercise too…keeps the mind ticking and happy…the satisfaction of seeing the end result is worth all the effort…lastly one is sure of the health benefits of what grows in our own kitchen garden…

    Liked by 1 person

    June 29, 2020
    • Exactly!
      I started my first garden in Latvia when I was 12, that’s 50 years ago. I have started numerous gardens, one at every place where I moved to. I have moved more than 30 times in total, both in Latvia and already 9 times here in Canada.
      When I arrived to Canada, I was surprised seeing that people have mostly grass, a few decorative shrubs and possibly a few perennial flowers around the house. No vegetables, no herbs, no berries, no fruit trees.
      When I look outside, I can still see how my neighbours are obsessed with grass which always dries out in July.
      It looks like my first cucumbers are just 2 weeks away.
      Garden can be done in containers when the place is tiny and in real soil if there is enough of it. I love any type of garden, I use plants to paint and do my drawings, as well.
      Thanks Krish for your comment!

      Like

      June 30, 2020

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