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Tomatoes must be the most popular vegetable garden plant and there are a few tricks to producing those ruby red beauties. First, tomatoes perform best when there is a consistent supply of sun, moisture, heat and nourishment. Water plants once the soil begins to dry but avoid watering late in the evening… wet foliage in the evening can lead to disease issues. Fertilize regularly using an organic plant food like garden-tone or flower-tone. Yellowing leaves in the presence of adequate water and fertilizer may be due to improper soil Ph that can be tested with inexpensive meters widely available in local garden centers. Crop rotation is especially important with tomatoes to help avoid the establishment of soil borne disease issues. Tomatoes and potatoes should not overlap rotations. During periods of warm weather following cooler weather spray tomatoes with liquid calcium to avoid blossom end rot. Most tomatoes require staking. Use heavy duty stakes or cages. Use cloth strips or padded wire to tie vines.
Cucumbers, squash and pumpkins are all commonly referred to as vine crops or cucurbits. Vine crops all share some similar requirements and possible ailments. Full sun and consistent moisture are equally important as with tomatoes. Watering in the evening and overhead watering are strongly discouraged due to the likelihood of leaf disease common to vine crops. (Apply water with soaker hose when possible) Excessive dry or humid weather can trigger leaf disease that can be controlled with applications of organic sulphur. Removing a portion of leaves can allow for air circulation through plants and helping to eliminate leaf diseases. Slugs can be an issue and Iron Phosphate provides a good organic control. Several beetles and borers can cause damage and can be controlled organically with carefully applied insect dust. Vine borers from orange and black moths that lay eggs on vine crops. Larvae feed on stems and destroy plants. Apply dust at bases of vine crops in June to control. Vine crops benefit from applications of dehydrated manure throughout the growing season.
Worms on cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are usually just a nuisance but can get out of control. Use dusts to control… apply after rain showers. Keep plants from drying out to avoid bolting. Plant second crops for later harvests.
Do not fertilize peppers until after flowers appear. Too much fertilizer will produce large plants with no fruit. Separate hot and sweet peppers to avoid cross pollination. Space plants 1-2’.
Eggplant requires hot and dry soil. Plant later in the season, mound soil and use black row covers to heat the soil.
Later plantings of lettuce, spinach, cilantro and arugula may benefit from some shade when cooler temperatures are a benefit.
Use planting cloth or straw to mulch open soil and keep weeds from germinating.
Corn will not germinate in cold wet soil so plant late May at the earliest. Space seeds 1’ apart to avoid over crowding.
Beans, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, cilantro, arugula and peas are best planted by seed rather than plants.
Use compost when planting all items in planting holes or in seed rows.
Mound potato plantings and plant in deep trench. Cover plants as they emerge from the soil.
Granular organic fertilizer (garden, plant or flower-tone) applied every 4-6 weeks will add to plant growth and production.
Don’t tread on/in wet soils.