Grow Veggie Plants Blog
Welcome to my blog! I will be sharing ideas and tips on growing veggies
and updating the progress of my own garden!

With the days getting longer and temps heating up, your garden should be growing and thriving by now. It’s important to take steps now to keep your garden lush and bountiful in the fall. Here are a few tips to get you started!


Plant Support

By now, your tomato and pepper plants are likely getting quite tall and your cucumber vines are spreading. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to tie plants up to stakes, cages, trellises, or other support. Branches that are heavy with fruit may bend or break under the weight. Foliage or fruit that comes into contact with the soil is much more susceptible to disease and rot. It is also easier to harvest when you can see the fruit!


Watering

Summer is the hottest and driest time of the year. Watering plants deeply and regularly will help to ensure a successful garden. Containers and baskets generally need to be watered daily when temps are above 75 degrees. Raised beds and in-ground gardens benefit from watering every 3 to 5 days, depending on weather conditions. Check whether watering is needed by poking your finger around 2 inches down into the soil to see if it is dry. For best results, water early in the early morning or late evening.


Weed Control

Weeds can take over your garden quickly if you don’t stay on top of them early on. Slow them down by mulching around plants and bare spots with grass clippings, pine needles, straw, chopped leaves, or other organic matter. Use a hoe or other hand tool to knock out weeds while they are small. Weeding is much easier when the ground is moist after rain or watering. Weeds compete with your garden plants for nutrients, moisture, and space, so it is important to keep them at bay.



Mulching

In addition to weed control, mulch will keep your plants happy throughout the growing season. It helps with soil temperature and moisture retention and prevents erosion from wind and heavy rain. Keep a supply of organic mulch on hand and add it as needed.


Pruning

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional blooms. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves and branches from your vegetable plants and flowers. Remove extra foliage from tomato plants to encourage good airflow and visibility to ripening fruit. With indeterminate tomatoes, be sure to prune the “suckers” which sprout in the “armpit” between the main stem and the branches. These suckers will turn into additional stems if left unattended and soon your plant will be out of control. By maintaining good pruning habits, you will push more energy back into producing and ripening the fruit!



Fertilizing

Your plants have been using up nutrients throughout the growing season and will benefit from replenishing the soil. Plants that are “starved” for nutrients are more susceptible to pests and disease. Use an organic granular or liquid fertilizer and your plants will reward you with increased yields.


Pest Control

Invasive insects love the hot summer weather and can wreak havoc on your garden in a hurry. Fortunately, there are several organic methods to control these pests:

  1. Neem oil and Insecticidal soap are two inexpensive products that pack a punch and are safe for the environment.

  2. Make a DIY essential oil mixture with citronella, rosemary, lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oil. Mix your essential oil with a little witch hazel and some avocado oil.

  3. Diatomaceous Earth (or DE) is ground-up skeletal remains of diatoms, which are tiny sea creatures, and is a very effective natural garden pest control for squash bugs, aphids, ticks, ants, beetles, and other soft-bodied pests. Diatomaceous Earth comes in powdered dust form. You can simply sprinkle the DE dust on and around your plants. If you need a more concentrated application, you can mix 4 tablespoons of Diatomaceous Earth to a gallon of water and apply it with a spray bottle. One of the best things about Diatomaceous Earth is that it is completely safe for all plants.

  4. Squash bugs are one of the most destructive pests – learn how to prevent and get rid of these nasty critters here.

  5. Here is another great guide with more ideas for naturally preventing and controlling garden pests.


Bonus Tips!

  • If you are planning a summer getaway, don’t forget to make arrangements for watering and harvesting your garden while you are away. You can offer to share some of your bounty in exchange for providing care for your crops!

  • Prepare for your harvest by doing some research on recipes or canning procedures and jot down ideas on what you will do with your fruits and vegetables once picking time arrives.

  • Keep a journal of what you planted this year, noting which varieties you have the most success with and any problems you encounter and want to avoid next year. If you purchased your seedlings from Grow Veggie Plants, please consider writing a quick review to let us know how the plant varieties worked out for you!


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Gardening season is right around the corner, so it's time to start your spring gardening chores! Even if the temperatures are still chilly, you can take some steps now to prepare for a great garden this year.


Build New Beds

If you are adding a new raised bed garden, now is the time to start planning and building. Check out this blog by the Farmer's Almanac for a step-by-step guide to building an easy DIY raised garden bed.


Be Patient

Before working your soil, be sure it isn't too wet. Soil that is too moist will be easily compacted and you will end up with hard clods later when it dries out. To check the moisture level, grab a handful of soil and form it into a ball. If it crumbles through your fingers, you are good to go. If it sticks together, it is too wet. Wait a few days and check it again.


Prep Your Beds

Remove weeds and debris and turn or loosen the soil with a rake or garden fork. Consider amending the soil with good quality compost. Compost is rich

in the nutrients your plants need and it also improves the soil structure. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost over the planting bed and use a spade to work it into the top 10 to 12 inches of soil.


Fight Weeds Early

Take the time to pull, dig, or smother weeds before you plant. Make sure you do this before the weeds go to seed or you will be fighting an uphill battle all through the growing season.


Add Mulch

To keep weeds at bay, spread 2 inches of mulch over the top your soil. Pine needles, straw, or shredded bark all make great mulches. Even a covering of mulched leaves or grass clippings will do wonders to suppress weeds and retain moisture around your new plants.


Fertilize

Jump start your garden by applying a good quality fertilizer. You can also use organic fertilizers such as kelp meal, bone meal, or fish emulsion. Worm castings are a wonderful organic fertilizer and are available on my website!


Make a Plan

Now is a great time to map out your garden and decide what plants you would like to grow. Plant vegetables that you and your family will enjoy eating. Make sure you allow enough room for each type of plant to get the light it needs and grow to full size. Order seedlings and seeds in advance so you are prepared when the weather is warm enough to plant.


Don't Forget About the Containers

Prep your pots and other containers by removing old soil, plants, and roots. You can spread the soil around other parts of the garden. Adding fresh potting soil every year or two will give your container plants and flowers the nutrients they need to thrive. Make sure all the containers have drainage holes that are free of rocks or debris.



I'll be back soon with more tips for planting and transplanting when the weather warms up. Be sure to get your plant orders in early to be sure your favorite varieties are available!





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Watch my latest video for tips on pruning your tomato plants to improve your harvest and extend the growing season!

https://youtu.be/cK5eBvQLs7Y




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