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Sue, Customer. Delicious Delicious, fresh and super high quality ingredients. Alice, Customer. The happier your plants are, the more resistant they'll be to attackers. If you're buying seedlings, look for plants raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. A great place to look is at your local farmers' market , which may also have native plants and varieties well-suited to your area. It's better to buy stocky seedlings with few, if any blooms yet, and root systems that don't look overcrowded.
Many things are best grown from seed, including sunflowers , annual poppies, coriander, dill, annual phlox, larkspur, annual lupine, morning glories, sweet peas, squash, and cucumbers. Plants that you will be harvesting, such as vegetables or cutting flowers, should be grouped tightly in beds that you don't walk on. Raised beds work great. Grouping reduces weeding and water waste, and helps you target compost and nutrients.
Ample space between rows helps promote air circulation, which repels fungal attacks. Remember that seedlings won't always stay diminutive, and you do want to limit overshadowing. It's a good idea to thin crops based on nursery suggestions. According to Leslie Land, if you want the highest returns of organic produce with limited space and time, these plants are typically winners:. Indeterminate tomatoes : so named because the vines keep getting bigger and producing new fruit until frost.
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Non-hybrid old-fashioned pole beans: They keep growing and producing 'til frost — assuming you keep them picked. Zucchini: Everything they say about avalanches of zucchini is true, especially of hybrid varieties. Swiss chard: You can keep breaking off outer leaves for months, and every picking will be tender as long as plants get enough water. Tall snow peas and sugar snaps : They grow readily and produce delicious rewards.
The best time to water plants is usually in the morning.
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Mornings tend to be cool with less winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. If you water in the evening, plants stay damp overnight, making them more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases. Ideally, you want to water the roots, not the greenery , which is easily damaged. A drip or soak system can work great, or just carefully water the bases of plants by hand. Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, typically a total of about one inch of water per week including rain.
One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger plants. To avoid shocking tender greenery, try to use water at or near air temperature ; collected rainwater is best. No matter where you live, you'll still get weeds. Pulling them by hand may sound like hard work — and it can be — but it also can be good exercise, and gets you outside in the fresh air. Reduce the number of weeds you have to contend with by applying mulch, which also helps protect the soil. Organic mulch and burlap can work in a pinch.
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Straw is cheap but doesn't last long. Wood chips are nice, but can get pricey. Many people opt to use lawn clippings, although it should be noted that because they are high in nitrogen, clippings should only be used on plants that need a lot of the nutrient, such as squash and lettuce.
If your garden is being assaulted by pests, it may be a sign of other problems, so the first thing you should do is make sure plants are getting enough light, nutrients, and moisture. Also remember that a diverse garden helps prevent pests by limiting the amount of one type of plant offered up to enemies. It's a good thing to foster natural predators in your garden, such as frogs, toads, lizards, birds, and even bats.
Beneficial insects can be your best friends, especially ladybugs. Many nurseries even sell cans of them, though it's true there's a high probability they won't stick around. Leave a small source of water out to attract friendly predators. It's also a good idea to grow plants with small blossoms , such as sweet alyssum and dill, which attract predatory insects. Nets and row covers can also work. Organic weapons include Bacillus thuringiensis , a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters.
You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, garlic, or hot pepper sprays. Don't forget to harvest the fruits of your labor! Generally, the more you harvest, the more your plants will produce for you. During peak harvest season, you'll likely find that it's best to check your garden every day.
Got herbs? If you use them fresh, pick them right before you need them. But if you'll be drying and storing them, it's best to wait until just before they flower, since they'll have the most flavor. Gather all herbs except basil in mid-morning, shortly after dew has dried. Harvest basil in the late afternoon, since it will last longer after some time in the sun. When harvesting leafy greens, pick sporadically from the entire crop, a little from each plant. For broccoli, wait until the central head is as large as it will get, before sending off buds for flowering.
Cut it off right above the leaf node, and you'll likely get better production from the rest of the plant. In general, it's best to cut produce off with a sharp knife or scissors versus ripping with your fingers, which can cause more damage to plant tissue. If you get too much bounty, remember you can also freeze , store some types of produce in a root cellar , or take up canning.
If you notice sick plants either during the season or at the end of the year, make sure you pull up the entire organism. Don't forget to rake up underneath, since diseased leaves can harbor problems for a long time.
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