As you plant your vegetable garden this spring, keep in mind that the work doesn’t end once your seedlings are in the ground.
Ensure a bountiful harvest with these quick tips for getting the most out of your vegetable garden.
1. Feed me, I’m yours. Fertilize your plants to give them the best possible start. Once the second set of leaves, or “true leaves,” appear, you can begin a plant food regimen. Use an organic, all-purpose plant fertilizer mixed at half-strength once a week for the first few weeks, gradually increasing to full strength.
2. Thin is in. If you direct-sowed seeds into the garden bed, some thinning will be in order. Once the second set of leaves appear, evaluate the plants and pull out (gently) the weakest-looking seedlings and toss in the compost pile. Root vegetables and greens respond well to thinning.
3. It’s a tie. Indeterminate tomatoes will produce all season long, but once they take off, they will flop over, bringing fruit into contact with the earth. Take the time to tie up vines, either with stakes or cages, so that the plants will get the most sunshine and air circulation through the lower branches.
4. Support network. Another vegetable that benefits from support, cucumbers need a trellis system for the tendrils to wrap around and keep the fruit off the ground.
5. Best dressed. A top dressing of compost, or better yet, a cup of compost tea, will give veggies what they need to grow on. Vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, even bits of unbleached paper, can all be tossed into the compost pile. Eggshells, too, but crush them up first. On their own, they take a long time to decompose.
To make compost tea: Infuse water with compost, filter out the solids, then give the plants a drink.