Gardening for Fresh Vegetables

By Hank Smith

A recent national survey reveals that 57% of gardeners surveyed have started growing vegetables in recent years or have increased the size of their vegetable plantings. Among the most common reasons given were: "Makes the budget go further;" "Vegetable prices are increasing constantly;" and "Growing vegetables is just as relaxing as growing flowers." The sale of vegetable seed and plants has shown a marked increase in recent years.

HORT Shorts

  • Soil should be dry before it is turned, loosened and amended without compacting and leaving it in hard-to-work-with clods. To judge if soil is dry enough, pick up a handful and squeeze it in your palm. Then drop it. If the soil breaks up, it can be worked. If the handful remains a clod, wait to "work" the soil. Even if garden soil was turned over in the fall, till it again if the ground is dry enough and weather is warm enough. The extra tilling will expose overwintering harmful insects to the killing cold.
  • Also, spade lime into the soil if it's needed. Lime requires several weeks to become chemically incorporated into the soil.
  • Small-scale flowering trees and low-growing shrubs can put a natural picture frame around a house when viewed from the street.
  • A lawn can be shrunk by replacing turfgrass with drought-tolerant groundcovers such as creeping junipers and wormwood. In addition, Carolina jessamine vine and English ivy can be trained into groundcovers.
  • Cut back cold-damaged liriope foliage. Avoid tipping new growth, or there will be brown edges for the year to come. If pruning is done now, use hedge shears or a mower set at its highest setting. Pruning later will mean cutting by hand.
  • Nasturtium grows rapidly and produces showy, round leaves and brightly-colored flowers. These help to "mask" bulb foliages as they mature, and produce food to store for next year's blooms.
  • Phlox drummondi doesn't like to be transplanted. It should be grown in peat pots or pots made of pressed nutrients through which tender roots can penetrate after pots are set in the soil outdoors.
  • By studied planning and careful rotation of flowering plants from a commercial grower, it's possible to achieve a major landscape triumph in a small garden spot.
  • Chrysanthemums have become a year-round flower, instead of an autumn-only beauty. This is accomplished by growing plants in the dark for controlled periods, which forces them into bloom out of their natural season.
  • Crape myrtle trees and shrubs are some of the most popular plants in Southern gardens. When blooms fade, clip them from the plant. New panicles of flowers will form.

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