29 April 2010

Vegetable Gardening

Now that you have a great new area to plant in after the last “double digging” article, what are you going to plant?  Last year, we saw a huge increase in vegetable transplant sales thanks to all the national food scares (more about that another time) and the cost of fuel rising so high that it affected just about everything.

Vegetable gardening is very rewarding and is a wonderful activity to do with your kids too, instilling a sense of pride and self-worth after a realized accomplishment of a job well done and freshly picked vegetables to eat. It may even get your kids to eat more veggies since they helped to grow them. If you’d like to start early, try planting lettuces, spinach, peas, beets, carrots, rappini, radishes, onions, leeks, radicchio, braising greens, romanesco, kale, cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli. Those items can take lower temperatures and actually grow better in the cooler weather. Keep an eye on the lettuces and spinach, harvesting them while young so that they don’t bolt (become tall, leggy and go to seed). Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, melons, pumpkins and squash should be put out a bit later, after the chance of frost is past.

Fertilizer is important here as well as watering properly. Sometimes during the summer months, I am asked why someone’s plants didn’t produce any fruit or maybe they have some other problem. The answers can usually be related to fertilizer, watering, or some weather issue. You'll find the answers to some of those questions under the appropriate labels in this blog.  Please feel free to ask more questions....that is the very reason we started this blog!

As for fertilizer, there are three main elements that you will see concentrations for on the fertilizer bag. Those are N-P-K, or Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, respectively and the numbers (i.e. 15-15-15) tell what percentages those macronutrients are in. Nitrogen is mainly responsible for vegetative plant growth and strong roots, phosphorous for root expansion and flowering, and potassium for metabolism, leaf expansion and the quality and size of the fruit or vegetative parts of the plants that are harvested. Potassium is also responsible for the intensity and development of pigments and color in flowers.

Watering will encourage root growth as the roots will follow the water into the soil. The stronger the root system, the stronger the plant will be. Water accordingly with the weather; less frequently when cool and more when hot. Be careful not to overwater or keep the soil wet and soggy. Too much water will deprive the roots of oxygen. It’s O.K. to dig down with your hands to check water content of the soil if you are not sure. If you prepared your garden plot well you should have adequate drainage and aeration for the roots.

Happy Gardening…

Running Creek Farm Greenhouses, LLC
Valatie/ Hudson

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