"Good Day, MegaGro. Where to begin? I sprayed my tomato seedlings twice, and I now have plants over 4 feet tall in wire guides. I measured the growth rate again today and it grew 2 inches overnight. Blooms are evident on all plants, but I don't expect mature fruit until the end of September. I have spread the word on your great product. Thanks for making my gardening dream come true. (need some tomatoes?)"
Ian C. Brampton, Ontario
Vegetable Gardening - Location and Planning
For the best success, a vegetable garden should be well planned out in advance. The location of your vegetable garden is very important to the overall success and amount of work you'll have to do to maintain your garden.
It's best to choose a location for your vegetable gardening near the house. This is generally the most convenient spot for a variety of reasons, but you may have to locate your garden further from the house is you don't have a good location close to home. Vegetable gardening close to your house where you can visit or view it frequently will allow you to monitor plant pests and the general health of the garden more easily. Choose a spot close to a water supply for convenience, and to avoid having to use long lengths of hoses. You can also include vegetables among your landscape or ornamental plants throughout your yard. This can be helpful if many of the best locations have already been taken by ornamental plantings. You'll get the best of both worlds, attractive landscaping that is functional.
Good vegetable gardening requires at least six hours of full sun each day in order for your food crops to mature properly. Good sunlight is very important, as no amount of fertilizer, water, or care can replace needed sunshine. The soil of your vegetable garden should be fertile and well draining so that water never puddles after a rainstorm. While good air movement around a garden is important, windy areas should be avoided because winds can dry out or break plants.
Before planting, make a paper plan, including vegetables you intend to plant, where, and when. Make a list of supplies, and then order early. And don't forget your key growing supplies; SoilSyrup,AquaRocks, AquaSpikes, Algoflash and MegaGro.
Vegetable Gardening Tip #1 - Locate the garden near the house for convenience on a site close to a source of water with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
When planning your garden, consider what types of vegetables and how much you want to plant. It's best to surround your garden with some type of fence or enclosure. This will not only help to keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals, but he fence can serve as a trellis for beans, peas, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.
The direction of the rows isn't necessarily critical, but often it is a good idea to have them running east-west, thereby allowing you to plant your tallest crops on the north end of the plot, and successively shorter crops in front. This prevents shading of the shorter plants. If you must plant your garden on a hill, cut your furrows on a contour with the land, so that the water won't run quickly down the hill, taking with it the valuable topsoil, and the nutrients needed for your plants.
The vegetables you choose for your vegetable gardening will largely be determined by your own personal preferences. If you want to grow larger quantities of a type of vegetable, it is usually more cost effective to start your plants from seeds indoors. SpeedSprout and MegaGro are great products for getting a jump on the growing season when starting seeds indoors. Some types of plants resent transplanting and must be sown directly into the garden where they are to be grown. In other instances it is best to purchase bedding plant starts to extend the growing season long enough to insure the maturity of the crop.
Try to select a variety of vegetables that will provide a harvest throughout the growing season as well as a mixture of annual and perennial crops. Include a mixture of vegetables which produce early in spring, such as rhubarb, asparagus, radishes, lettuce, and vegetables which can be stored after the fall harvest like potatoes, parsnips, carrots, squash, and the like. Sweet corn, beans, peas, and beets, especially those for early greens, cabbage, cauliflower, and tomatoes, are great summer vegetables.
Perennial vegetables such as rhubarb and asparagus should be planted off to the side where they won't interfere with future plowing. Early producing crops (radishes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, etc.) should be grouped together with extra space for successive plantings. After they are finished for the season, this will allow you to easily rework the area for later season crops.
Vegetable Gardening Tip #2 - Plant a mixture of annual and perennial vegetables, with a mix of early and later season crops.
If the same garden plot is used for vegetable gardening for many years, rotate your crops, so that each vegetable is in a different position during the following season. Each few years, give your garden a year off, and during that time concentrate on rebuilding the soil to replace the nutrients that have been depleted.
Vegetable Gardening - Preparing The Soil
Fertile, well-drained soil is necessary for successful vegetable gardening. The exact type of soil is not so important as that it be well drained, well supplied with organic matter, reasonably free of stones, and moisture retentive. A good loamy soil that is fertile, deep, easily crumbled, well drained, and high in organic matter is needed to grow quality vegetables. If properly prepared, however, soils containing light sand or heavy clay can be used. The fastest way to make a heavy clay or light sandy soil loamier is by adding organic matter in the form of SoilSyrup. Fall applications of SoilSyrup can also help correct soil acidity problems before spring planting.
Infertile soil that has good physical properties can be made productive by infusing it with organic matter and fertilizer, like SoilSyrup and Algoflash. The soil with also benefit from AquaRocks, another soil improving material. Soils should not be plowed or worked while it is very wet unless the work will certainly be followed by severe freezing weather. If the soil sticks together in a ball and does not readily crumble under slight pressure by the thumb and finger, it is too wet for plowing or working, because in this condition it will cake as it dries, making it unsuitable for young plants.
If your garden has already been cultivated and used in past years, there is little to do other than to plow in additional organic material, and fertilizers. SoilSyrup and Algoflash are a great way to add humus and nutrients to existing gardens. If you intend to bring a previously unused patch of ground into cultivation, the work should commence the preceding fall, before the ground becomes saturated with water. An abundance or organic material in the form of SoilSyrup should be added to the soil, and allowed to compost over the winter.
While most gardeners' plant on whatever soil type is available in the garden plot, you may improve your soil by adding SoilSyrup to apply liberal amounts of organic materials. Most soils benefit from applications of SoilSyrup. Thoroughly mix liberal amounts of SoilSyrup in the soil well in advance of planting, preferably at least a month before seeding. Spade or plow the plot at least 3 weeks before planting. Then rework the soil into a fine firm seedbed at planting time.
Vegetable Gardening Tip #3 - Add generous amounts of organic matter to your garden. SoilSyrup is the easy way to apply extra organic material.
Vegetable Gardening - Planting and Sowing Vegetables
Using your garden layout map that you created in the planning stages, use stakes to mark out where different rows will be planted. Build your trellises or set in stout stakes for climbing plants such as peas and beans. Create mounds on which you will put in the vining plants such as cucumbers, pumpkins and melons, and don't forget to add AquaRocks to the mounds to provide moisture for young plants. Make sure to establish your pathways early so that you won't be walking across areas that will be planted. You don't want to be compacting the soil that you have worked so hard to fluff up.
You are now ready to sow your seeds, and to put in your vegetable bedding plants. Planting depths and spacing are critical, so don't crowd to many plants into the allotted space or you may end up with spindly plants and no food. Be sure to place a tag or marker on each row or area so that you will know what to expect will sprout there and when! Water your garden thoroughly the day before you intend to plant.
Stretch a string between the two stakes you set to mark the row, or use a straight piece of lumber, and use it as a guide to open a 'V' shaped furrow with the corner of your hoe. Set the depth to the recommended requirements on the seed packet. Tear the corner of the seed package off and use your finger to tap the package lightly as you move down the row, carefully distributing the seeds evenly. Larger type seeds may be placed individually in the row. You will want to plant extra seeds in each row to allow for failed germination, and for thinning. Cover the seeds with fine soil (no clods or rocks). Firm the soil over the seeds to insure good moisture contact, and to help retain the moisture in the soil. Water thoroughly using a gentle spray so that you don't disturb or uncover the seeds. Seeds need moisture to germinate, so it is important to keep the soil moist until the seedlings are up, that's whereAquaRocks can really help. When the seedlings have emerged and developed their second or third set of true leaves, thin them as needed so that you keep the strongest plants, leaving the remaining ones spaced as directed on the seed package. It is best to thin while the seedlings are still small, so that you aren't disturbing the roots of the plants that will remain.
If you purchased bedding plants, or started your seeds indoors in pots, dig a small hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the new plant. It's a good idea to add AquaRocks to the hole to help the soil hold moisture for the young plants. Water the plant thoroughly prior to planting it out in the garden to lessen the shock of transplant. Gently tap the pot to loosen the roots and remove the new plant. If the root ball is tangled and compacted, use your fingertips to gently loosen the outer roots. Set the plant into the hole slightly deeper than it was growing in the pot, and firm the soil in around it, making certain that there is good soil/root contact. Water thoroughly with SoilSyrup after planting to reduce any transplant shock.
Vegetable Gardening - Fertilizing
Unless your garden soil is incredibly rich and fertile, fertilizer is usually needed for healthy vegetable gardening. Most vegetable gardeners find it convenient to use Algoflash, a balanced fertilizer that provides key micro-nutrients. Fertilizers, like Algoflash should generally be applied before or at planting time. The easiest way to apply fertilizer is to broadcast, using a hose-end sprayer.
To keep garden vegetables growing rapidly and continuously, extra fertilizer should be applied to the soil in the form of a side dressing. Side dressing can be applied on both sides of the vegetable row about 4 to 6 inches from the plants using Algoflash. For plants that are widely spaced (such as cucumbers or cantaloupe), the side dressing fertilizer can be placed in bands 6 inches from the plant's base. Vegetable plants should be side dressed about midway through their maturity cycle except when grown on sandy soils and during periods of excessive rainfall. These conditions require more frequent side dressing applications. Also, crops such as tomatoes, eggplant, and okra require two or three side dressings per season because of their long growth cycles.
Some recommended times for side-dressing vegetables are as follows:
- Asparagus -- Early Spring before growth starts.
- Beans and Peas -- Just before blooming.
- Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower --About four weeks after transplanting.
- Eggplant, Peppers, Squash, Tomatoes -- At blooming and when fruit set starts.
- Cucumbers, Cantaloupe, Watermelons -- As vines start to run.
For smaller gardens, AquaSpikes can be a great way to side dress vegetables while preventing weed growth. AquaSpikes offer built-in weed control, because you're watering your plants roots directly, it helps prevent weed growth beside your favorite plants! You'll save lots of water as well, because you won't lose a drop to evaporation or runoff! Which is great for vegetable gardening!
Vegetable Gardening - Watering
Make sure you provide sufficient drainage of excessive rainfall from your plot, while arranging for irrigation during dry periods. A garden takes about 75 gallons of water per 100 square feet (taking evaporating losses into account). Frequency of watering depends upon your soil type; sandy soils need water 2 or 3 times a week. You can conserve water by using AquaRocks, SoilSyrup or usingAquaSpikes for direct root watering. If you use a portable lawn sprinkler, be sure to keep the application rate low enough that water does no run off the soil. Water applied too fast will not soak into the soil. When watering, wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. As a general guide, the average house spigot must be left running approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours to apply 1 inch of water to 1,000 square feet. Or you can use AquaSpikes as an inexpensive watering system. By cutting the tops off of 2-liter bottles, you can easily fill the bottle with the hose. During dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more water each week, especially when they are fruiting.
Vegetable Gardening Tip #4 - Weeds rob your vegetables of water, light and root space. So useAquaSpikes for direct root watering and to prevent weeds.