The taste of homegrown vegetables, picked fresh from the garden, is so superior to store-bought we often can’t resist the notion of growing our own. The only mistake enthusiasts make is they grow far more than their family, friends, and relatives can consume because they didn’t anticipate the incredible yield.
Where To Grow:
First off, vegetables need to grow in the sunniest part of your garden (minimum 6 hours direct sun), away from tree roots, in well-drained, level soil. You can improve the condition and fertility of your soil by digging into the top 20 cm – 30 cm (8” – 12”) and adding peat moss, Manure, and/or compost as well as granular fertilizer for the garden in the spring or fall before plant.
What To Grow:
Next, decide what you want to grow and sketch it out on graph paper. Group the vegetable crops according to height to prevent one shading another. Plan to put the small-growing, quick-maturing ones together as well. Remember, some vegetables really like to sprawl like pumpkins and squash. Corn is another crop that requires a fair bit of space and can potentially shade other vegetables.
How To Plant:
You can grow vegetables from seed in propagation trays in your home in March/April. Or you can sow seeds directly into cool soil in April for the best yields of carrots, peas, lettuce, onions, radishes, beets, and spinach. These particular seeds can be sown again in late August for a second “cool-weather” crop that matures in fall. Lastly, you can purchase started plants in May at Kool Breeze Farms Garden Centre.
It’s very important to read the seed package or growing tag to know exactly how much space to leave between each plant and the correct distance between rows. Some vegetables, like Carrots that grow profusely and quickly, need to be thinned out so they have sufficient room to mature. This kind of information is also clearly indicated.
Every two weeks after planting you should be fertilizing your garden you can use an all purpose, tomato fertilizer or a vegetable fertilizer.
Vegetables won’t tolerate competition from weeds so keep the area weed-free. This can be done by laying down porous landscape fabric and/or a thick layer of mulch such as cedar mulch, pine needles, or bark chips between rows. If necessary, pull weeds by hand or gently cultivate with a how without disturbing shallow roots. Watering is also crucial to success. Never allow the soil to dry out completely. It should be moist at all times. Feel the surface with your hand for coolness or dig down 10 cm (4”) to see exactly how far water has penetrated.
Watch carefully for insects and disease. Kool Breeze Farms sells several lines of natural environmentally friendly insecticides and fungicides that can be used safely by simply following the package directions. Consult one of our experts for easy solutions to your questions.
Lastly, harvest your vegetables promptly when they’re at their peak. You can freeze or give away the surplus.
Selecting what tomato varieties you wish to grow depends on your preference for such things as sweetness, meatiness (as in Beefsteak types), and quickness to maturity. The early tomatoes ripen 8 to 10 weeks after planting while the later varieties ripen in about 12 weeks. Why not plant both to enjoy them longer?
Tomatoes are very frost sensitive. If you have grown your own plants or purchased them you can get them used to light, wind, and variable spring temperatures by setting them out during the day in shade and moving them into a bit more sun each day for 5 days. Take them back inside or into the garage overnight if freezing tempera-tures are predicted. This is called “hardening off.” You can plant them directly into the garden on the May 24 weekend or when all risk of frost has passed.
For all varieties insert a strong stake into the ground right beside the plant so you won’t damage the root system with insertion later. Or place a tomato cage over the whole plant. As the tomato grows larger, tie the main stem securely to the stake with velcro, rags or old pantyhose. Don’t use rope or a twist tie that can cut into tender plant tissue.