25 easy vegetable gardening tips

August 19, 2015 111Tips & Tricks

Whether you’re new to growing or a seasoned expert, this collection of 25 vegetable gardening tips will help. Enjoy

1. If its getting cold and you have tomatoes still ripening on the vine — save your tomatoes! Pull the plants up and bring them inside to a warm dry place. Hang them up, and the tomatoes will ripen on the vine.

2. Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another one, and some combinations effectively keep pests away.

3. Paint the handles of your gardens tools a bright, color other than green to help you find them amongst your plants. You can also keep a mailbox in your garden for easy tool storage.

4. Compost needs time to integrate and stabilize in the soil. Apply two to three weeks prior to planting.

5. There is an easy way to mix compost into your soil without a lot of back breaking work: Spread the compost over your garden in the late fall, after all the harvesting is done. Cover with a winter mulch such as hay or chopped leaves and let nature take its course. By spring, the melting snow and soil organisms will have worked the compost in for you.

6. Like vining vegetables, but don’t have the room? Train your melons, squash, and cucumbers onto a vertical trellis or fence. Saves space and looks pretty too.

7. Garden vegetables that become over-ripe are an easy target for some pests. Remove them as soon as possible to avoid detection.

8. Onions are ready to harvest when the tops have fallen over. Let the soil dry out, harvest, and store in a warm, dry, dark place until the tops dry. Cut off the foliage down to an inch, then store in a cool, dry area.

9. Keep dirt off lettuce and cabbage leaves when growing by spreading a 1-2 inch layer of mulch (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. This also helps keep the weeds down.

10. When planting a flower or vegetable transplant, deposit a handful of compost into each hole. Compost will provide transplants with an extra boost that lasts throughout the growing season.

11. Insects can’t stand plants such as garlic, onions, chives and chrysanthemums. Grow these plants around the garden to help repel insects.

12. Milk jugs, soda bottles and other plastic containers make great mini-covers to place over your plants and protect them from frost.

13. For easy peas, start them indoors. The germination rate is far better, and the seedlings will be healthier and better able to fight off pests and disease.

14. Healthy soil means healthy plants that are better able to resist pests and disease, reducing the need for harmful pesticides.

15. Another reason to use natural and organic fertilizers and soil amendments: earthworms love them! Earthworms are extremely beneficial in the vegetable garden; increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings. Do what you can to encourage earthworms in your soil.

16. Diatomaceous earth makes an excellent organic insecticide – it is an abrasive white powder used to damage the cuticle, skin and joints of insects. It also makes an excellent slug barrier.

17. Some vegetables actually become better after a first frost, including kale, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.

18. When transplanting tomatoes, cover the stem with soil all the way up to the first set of leaves. This greatly encourages root growth, making a stronger, healthier plant.

19. Healthy soil means a thriving population of microbes, earthworms and other organisms. A soil that has “good tilth” will produce robust garden plants that are better able to resist pests and disease.

20. A simple five percent increase in organic material (compost) quadruples the soil’s ability to store water.

21. Plants will do best if they are well suited to your growing area. Take some time to read up and choose plants accordingly.

22. Keep garden vegetables from getting dirty by spreading a 1-2 inch layer of mulch (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. This will also help keep the weeds down.

23. Water your garden in the early morning to conserve moisture loss and to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity levels.

24. If you’re short on space, garlic, leeks and shallots make excellent container plants. They tend to have few insect or disease problems and don’t require much room for roots.

25. Over watering is worse than under watering. It is easier to revive a dry plant than try to dry out drowned roots.

Tips for long lasting Lilacs.

Tips for long-lasting lilacs

lilacs3
Lovely lilacs are in full bloom in many parts of the country, and now is a good time to think about how to take care of them and enjoy them as long as possible.

6 Tips for lilac care

  • Lilacs do best with at least 1” of water per week during hottest months
  • Do not over-fertilize or they won’t bloom. Just feed in the spring with something like Plant-Tone.
  • Lilacs love a sweet soil, so if yours are planted near pine trees or oaks, in the early spring add limestone, wood ash or similar products at a rate of 2-3 handfuls per 3 ft of height or spread of the lilac.
  • Lilacs bloom on old wood, so pruning should be done in the spring as soon as the plants finish flowering. If you wait too long, you’ll remove all of the new buds for the next year.
  • When pruning, remove any dead wood and also the oldest canes. You can cut those right down 5-10 inches from the ground.
  • The rule of thumb is to cut out about ½ – 1/3 of the old wood each year to keep your lilac blooming year after year.  You can also cut the tallest parts back to about 5-6 feet
  • Lilacs are hardy and will grow in Zones 3 – 7 but don’t do well in the warmest climates

Consider planting several varieties of lilacs, selecting them by bloom time and color.  By selecting various bloom times, you can enjoy 3-5 weeks of blooms and that lovely lilac scent!

Planting Asparagus

Planting AsparagusAsparagus

Asparagus is planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The plant is grown from “crowns” (1-year-old plants).

  • Eliminate all weeds from the bed, digging it over and working in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, manure or soil mix.
  • Dig trenches of about 6 inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep.  Some experts believe shallow trenches of 6 inches are best.
  • Asparagus does not like to have its feet “wet,” so be sure your bed has good drainage. For that reason, raised beds can be a good place to plant asparagus.
  • Create a mound in the trench and plant the crowns 15 to 18 inches apart, spreading the roots over the ridge.
  • Cover the roots and crowns with soil 2 inches deep and water thoroughly.

As the stems grow, fill in the rest of the trench with soil, leaving 3 to 4 inches of the stem exposed

Care

 When the trench is filled, add a 4 to 8 inch layer of mulch and water regularly.

  • Do not harvest the spears in the first year, but cut down dead foliage in late fall and side-dress with compost.
  • During the second year, keep the bed thickly mulched, side-dress in spring and early fall, and cut down dead foliage in late fall.Harvest/Storage

 

  • Asparagus can take three growing seasons to harvest; you may be able to lightly harvest during the second year.
    • In the first year, just let the aspargus go vegetative to give the crown a chance to get well established. Next spring, remove the old fern growth from the previous year, and keep an eye open for the new spears to begin emerging.
    • For the following years, maintain the bed and harvest only the spears thicker than a pencil.
    • The asparagus can be harvested for a period of about two to three weeks once the spears start to show. Keep a close eye on your asparagus so that you don’t miss the harvest!
    • After harvest, allow the ferns to grow; this replenishes the nutrients for next year’s spear production.
    • Harvest for 2 or 3 weeks. After you harvest, leave the ferns so it can gather nourishment for next year’s growth.
    • Cut spears that are about 6 inches in length at an angle.
    • Asparagus freezes well.

 

Planting Strawberries

strawberry patch

  • Buy disease-resistant plants , of a variety recommended in your area.
  • Plan to plant as soon as the ground can be worked in the Spring.
  • Strawberries are sprawling plants. Seedlings will send out runners, or ‘daughter’ plants, which in turn will send out their own runners.
  • Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system without bending it. However, don’t plant too deep: The roots should be covered, but the crown should be right at the soil surface.
  • Provide adequate space for sprawling. Set plants out 20 inches apart, and leave 4 feet between rows.
  • Roots shouldn’t be longer than 8 inches when plants are set out. Trim them if necessary.
  • pH should be between 5.5 and 7. If necessary, amend your soil in advance.
  • Strawberries require 6-10 hours a day of direct sunlight, so choose your planting site accordingly.
  • Tolerant of different soil types, although prefer loam. Begin working in aged manure or compost a couple months before planting.
  • Planting site must be well-drained. Raised beds are a particularly good option for strawberries.
  • Practice crop rotation for the most success. Do not plant in a site that recently had strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant.
  • Establish new plants each year to keep berry quality high each season.

 

Care

 

  • In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage plants from fruiting. If not allowed to bear fruit, they will spend their food reserves on developing healthy roots. The yields will be much greater in the second year.
  • Eliminate daughter plants as needed. First and second generations produce higher yields. Try to space each plant about 10 inches apart.
  • Moisture is incredibly important due to shallow roots. Water adequately, about one inch per week. They need a lot of water when the runners and flowers are developing and again in the fall when the plants are mature.
  • Keep the beds mulched to reduce water needs and weed invasion.
  • Be diligent about weeding. Weed by hand, especially in the first months after planting.
  • When the growing season is over, mow or cut foliage down to one inch and mulch plants about 4 inches deep with straw, pine needles or other organic material. This can be done after the first couple of frosts, or when air temps reach 20 F.
  • Remove mulch in early spring, after danger of frost has passed.

Row covers are a good option for protecting blossoms and fruit from birds.

Harvest/Storage

Fruit is ready for harvesting 4–6 weeks after blossoming.

  • Harvest only fully red (ripe) berries, and pick every three days.
  • Cut by the stem; do not pull the berry.
  • Harvest will last up to 3 weeks. You should have an abundance of berries, depending on the variety.
  • Store unwashed berries in the refrigerator for 3–5 days.
  • Strawberries can be frozen whole for about 2 months.

 

Spring lawn reseeding

Lawn Seeding Tips

nice lawn

Even in well maintained lawns, spot or general lawn seeding is sometimes needed. Lawns can thin because of weather, a result of damage caused by insects, or grass diseases. Some badly damaged lawns need to be completely “rebuilt” before regular maintenance can do much good.

There are three general categories of seeding: spot seeding, lawn renovation and overseeding a lawn.. What type is right for growing grass on your lawn depends on the condition of your turf. At Salmon creek Nursery, Dave can help with all of your lawn seeding questions and needs.

Whatever type of seeding is done, there are three important rules to follow when seeding a lawn:

  1. High quality seed should always be used
  2. The seed has to make good contact with the soil
  3. Enough water has to be supplied to assure germination and establishment.

Reseeding will give it that thick carpet like look that all your neighbors will oooh and aaah over, and it’s pretty simple {and inexpensive}.  Spring reseeding is a walk in the park–a soon to be thickly carpeted walk in the park.

First, make sure you buy a seed that is high quality and compatible with the temperature.

Next, give the lawn a quick mow.  This will help remove any leaves and small sticks/twigs that could get in the way {it’s really best to do this a couple of days BEFORE you will be reseeding}.

On the day you plan to reseed, give the whole area a quick rake.  It will loosen the soil a bit and make it ready to receive the seed.  Using a drop spreader {you can also do it by hand, but you may not spread the seed as evenly}, cross the area you will be reseeding in a horizontal pattern, then repeat using a vertical pattern–that way, you make sure you covered the area evenly.  Then, LIGHTLY rake in the seed.  You can lay down a very, very thin layer of compost, soil, or peat moss over the top of the seed if you want {less than 1/4″}.  Water the seed in.  You don’t want to flood the place, so just give it a light watering.  You will want to keep the soil moist until the grass germinates and takes hold. Then, you can move to letting the soil dry out completely between watering and using a deeper watering plan.

That’s pretty much it.  Make sure you KEEP OFF of the grass while it is germinating.  You wouldn’t go walking on all the little seedlings in your garden, the same principal applies to new grass.  Also, resist mowing the new grass until it is at least 2″ long.Most important, Avoid any type of weed control until the new grass has been mowed 4 or 5 times.

Hopefully, when it is all said and done, the grass really will be greener on your side.

Applying Dormant Oil Spray

Gardeners are not the only ones who enjoy fruit trees. Pests — such as scales, aphids and mites — feast on the tender plant parts and overwinter on the fruit trees. Dormant oils control these annoying pests and are safe for use on fruit trees.Aphids scale on apple tree

Dormant oils once contained heavy oils that had to be applied when the fruit tree was in its dormant stage to prevent damage to buds and foliage. Nowadays newer dormant oils are lighter, allowing them to be applied at anytime during the year without harming buds. Because you can apply newer dormant oils throughout the season, the term “dormant” typically refers to the time at which the oil is applied. Dormant oil consists of refined petroleum oil that — when applied to trees — will smother overwintering insects — such as aphids, scales and mites — and their eggs or will dissolve their protective waxing coating. It is applied in the winter months when fruit trees are in their inactive period. For dormant oil to provide proper control, the oil must come in contact with the pests.

Dormant Oil Recipes

Several dormant oil recipes are available and help control pests on fruit trees. A dormant oil formula developed by scientists at Cornell University controls overwintering pests and foliar diseases. It contains 2 tablespoons of ultrafine canola oil and 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed with a gallon of water. Cornell University scientists also developed a nourishing formula containing 2 tablespoons of horticultural oil, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of kelp and 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap mixed with 1 gallon of water. Another dormant oil recipe contains 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 5 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, 2 tablespoons of castile soap — which is made from an olive oil base — and 1 gallon of water. If you are not one who likes to do DYI, you can buy it premade at the store.

Application

No matter which recipe you use, the application for the homemade dormant oil is the same. During the fruit tree’s dormant stage — which is typically between November and early spring before bud break — fill a pump sprayer with the homemade dormant spray and thoroughly coat the fruit trees — stems and both sides of the leaves — with the oil. Never apply dormant oil when the temperature is below freezing or when fruit trees are stressed. Stressed trees are more likely to become damaged when treated with dormant oil. Furthermore, only apply the oil spray when the fruit tree is dry. Moisture or high levels of humidity lower the effectiveness of dormant oil sprays.

Considerations

Dormant oils generally won’t harm beneficial insects since they are applied at a time when beneficial insects aren’t present on fruit trees and have a low toxicity level to humans and mammals. Furthermore, dormant oils won’t leave harsh residue behind. It loses its ability to control pests once dried, however, and can harm plants susceptible to oil sprays. Cedars, maples, spruce and junipers are a few susceptible tree species that dormant oil should not be used on.

Tips For DIY Landscaping

Landscape Design: Seven Tips for Beginners

Whether your yard needs new plantings or a complete refresh, here are seven, must-know landscape design tips for the perfect garden.

If you’ve never tackled a landscape design before, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices you can make. But the same principles that guide your room setup inside should guide your designs outside, too. Here are seven ideas for landscape design for beginner

Idea 1

Make a list of needs and wants. Do your kids need a play space? Do you want to grow vegetables? Would your family gather on a patio? Do some very rough sketches of the yard with thoughts of where you want to place things; it’s a great organizing principle for landscape design for beginners. These aren’t master plans, just ideas. They can be a few lines and a couple of circles. You can easily play around with ideas without a lot of time and commitment.”

Idea 2

Study the sun and wind patterns. You might want to place a patio on the west side of the house, but it will get lots of afternoon sun, which means dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing — just hot. And wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. Those are common mistakes in landscape design for beginners. Your design should take into account what the sun and wind do at different times of the day and year.

Idea 3

Live with it for a while. Coming to quick conclusions about your yard can lead to choices that don’t work in the long term. In your yard, there might be certain areas where you want to go and sit that you wouldn’t have thought of when you first bought it.

Idea 4

Start small. Home and garden television shows are masters at revealing complete outdoor makeovers in just three days — but they have a crew of 60, which is not a situation enjoyed by landscape design for beginners. Part of creating a landscape is slowly developing a plan and enjoying the process. From your master plan, start with a small flowerbed. Go out and work on it for an hour or two when you have the time, and worry less about filing everything up right away. Give yourself some time to see how things develop. Plants grow and things fill in, and people forget that. The point is to take time and do it in pieces so you are happy with the final results, If you get into this thing and want to get it done, you’ll take shortcuts and be too  tired to do it well.

Idea 5

Work around a focal point. Any good garden design has a focal point or series of focal points, and it’s an easy principle to put in place in landscape design for beginners. That may be a sculpture or a stunning plant, a tree, or a series of shrubs. The point is to draw your eye and move it through the landscape.

Idea 6

Focus on scale and pacing. It’s the trickiest principle in landscape design for beginners, but scale and pacing give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and color, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space. You’ll want to repeat some elements, whether it’s a certain plant, a common color, or even a shape, so there’s a sense of cohesion. But you also don’t want it to be monotonous, so try adding an occasional element that’s different from the landscape and will stand out.

Idea 7

Be open to change. Unless you’re strongly devoted to something, be honest about what you like — and what may fall out of favor. Be open to change.

Remember: Patience is key to landscape design for beginners. If all of that bare space is too much to look at, and the kids and dogs are tracking in mud, rely on temporary solutions — annuals, fast-growing groundcovers that you don’t care about for the long term, even mulch – to cover an area while you’re figuring out what you want. Large landscaping features like trees can be hard to move; annuals can be taken out, and small perennials and shrubs can be transplanted if you realize they’re in the wrong spot. But in the meantime, you have something out there.

 

Pruning Your Fruit Trees

Now is the best time to prune your fruit trees and here is how to do it in three simple steps.

Within a few years of lovingly planting fruit trees, most folks find themselves with scraggly overgrown bushes, rather than the Garden of Eden they had envisioned. The key to keeping fruit trees attractive and productive is annual pruning.

Worry not, pruning is not the brain surgery it has been made out to be. Curmudgeonly Master Gardener types may tell you that different fruits are pruned in different ways, which is true to an extent, but there is a simple three-step process that works for the vast majority of fruit trees.

Outside of the tropics, most of us are dealing with pome fruits (apples, pears and quince) or stone fruits (peaches, cherries, apricots, plums — anything with a pit). This three-step method works for both.

Though summer pruning is not harmful to the trees, winter makes things easier. Without the tree’s foliage, you can really see what you are doing.

STEP 1: CLEAN UP

Start by pruning away any wood that is dead, damaged or diseased—a.k.a. the three D’s.

Are sprouts coming from the base of the trunk? If so, remove them — technically they’re called ‘suckers’ and they originate from the rootstock rather than the fruiting variety grafted on top.

How about suspiciously straight sprouts growing from some of the main branches? These erect, perfectly vertical branches, or “watersprouts,” — should be removed as well.

With all these clean-up cuts, it’s important to prune the branches back flush to the larger limb they’re growing from — don’t leave little stubs.

step1_prune

STEP 2: THIN OUT

The goal of thinning is to allow light and air into the canopy, which boosts fruit production and reduces problems with pests and disease.

First, remove any branches that grow downward, toward the center of the tree or that cross paths with another branch.

Once these are out of the way, stand back and take a look. The goal is to have evenly spaced branches splaying out in a pleasing, fractal-like pattern from the center.

Do you see places where multiple branches compete with each other? You might find two or more growing from a single crotch at a narrow angle, for example, or from different points but in a parallel fashion, one hovering over the other.

If so, thin out all but one branch, retaining the branch with the healthiest appearance and best crotch angle (roughly the 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock angle from the center of the tree). Wider angles can break when laden with fruit and narrower angles lead to bushy growth and fruit that is too high to pick.

Next, continue to thin the tree until there is a good 6 to 12 inches of air space around every branch. The smaller the branches are, the closer they can be to each other.

As with your clean-up cuts, all thinning cuts should be made flush to the branch.

step2_prune

STEP 3: HEAD BACK

The last step is the easiest — you’re basically giving the tree a haircut.

The idea is to prune back the outermost growth of the tree so the branches become shorter and thicker as they grow, rather than long and gangly. This keeps them from snapping under the weight of the fruit, but pomologists (fruit scientists) will tell you that it also causes the tree’s hormones to activate growth lower in the canopy, making for smaller, more fruitful trees.

Heading back the tree means cutting off 20 to 30 percent of last year’s growth. You can distinguish last year’s growth from two-year-old growth by the wrinkly ring of bark encircling each stem. Depending on the vigor of the tree, this may be anywhere from two inches to 4 feet back from the tip of each branch.

Unlike the previous steps, these cuts will be made part way into each branch. Exactly where you make the cut is important, too. Prune each branch back to a point one-quarter inch above a bud that faces the direction you want that branch to grow in the coming year. If there is another branch close by on the left, for example, prune back to a bud on the right side of the branch.

step3_prune

PRUNING TIPS

  • Sharp shears make for clean, easy cuts — if you don’t know how to sharpen your own, many neighborhood hardware stores often offer the service for a small fee
  • As a measure of disease prevention, dip the blades of your pruning shears in solution of isopropyl alcohol for 30 seconds to disinfect them before moving on to prune another tree
  • Clean up the pruned wood from around the tree and dispose — especially if it contains any diseased material

 

Plant of the Week

The Common Snowball Viburnum

This Plant has everything!!!!! common snowball1

 Huge Beautiful Spring blooms

snowball 4

Lovely Fall Colorsnow ball 3

Berries for the birds

snowball 5

Can be used for Hedging or as a lovely accent piece.

Common Snowball Bush, Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’, is an ornamental shrub that has been a garden favorite for centuries because of the “balls of snow” it produces in late spring.

One would make an eye-catching accent plant for your front yard, or plant several along your house or shed for a short, ornamental hedge.

There is nothing “common” about the Common Snowball Bush, and there are few plants more fun to have in your landscape!  Kids and adults alike love this rounded plant with its prolific supply of flowers.

The giant, spherical clusters of white and green-tinted blossoms will appear in masses in spring.  Some of the pristine blooms will even take on a pink cast for additional color.

In the fall, the leaves turn a wonderful burgundy, reddish-purple.  About the same time, the bright red, attractive berries ripen, and will persist on your plant throughout the winter.

Birds are very fond of the berries, and will likely be found snacking from your bush throughout the cold, winter months.

Common Snowball Bush is a deciduous, thicket-forming, Old World shrub.  It will grow to about 12 feet tall with an equal spread.  It’s very hardy, and once established, will thrive with minimal care.

A fun plant that provides outstanding blooms with minimal care, the Common Snowball Bush is a must-have plant for your yard today.

* Spectacular spring blooms
* Fall Color
* Wildlife interest
* Hardy

General Perennial Garden Planting instructions

perennials2

1. Plant perennials as soon as possible after the ground defrosts. Choose a location where water drains quickly after a rainfall. Prepare your planting bed by loosening and turning under the soil to a depth of 8 in. Level the soil with a rake to remove large clumps of grass and large stones.

 

2. Amend your soil - add peat moss or compost and work in.

 

3. Dig the hole for each plant a little larger than the root ball. Set each plant with crown even with or slightly below the level of the surrounding soil. Fill in around roots with fine soil and firm lightly, leaving a slight depression or “saucer” around the plant to catch and hold water.

 

4. Water your perennials. Gently add about a quart of water to the “saucer” around each plant. Water again; let soak in. Fill in loose, fine soil around clump. Water again as needed. As a weed preventative you may want to mulch your garden and then put a light sprinkling of preemergent (preen) over the mulch.

5. Mulch in cold climates. After soil freezes solid in late fall, apply a mulch around perennial clumps. Use loose straw or evergreen branches that will not pack down tightly. Remove winter mulch in spring before growth begins.
BASIC SEASONAL CARE FOR PERENNIALS

 

1. Spring mulching. After perennial clumps begin growth in spring, add mulch to soil around plants. Do not cover crowns. Use grass clippings, shredded leaves, compost, wood chips, etc. Mulch keeps soil moist, roots cool; prevents weed growth and adds a layer of humus which will aid future growth.

 

2. Stake taller perennials to prevent damage by wind. Tie plants up as they grow.

 

3. Pruning. When perennials have finished blooming, remove dead flower heads and stalks, to prevent the plants from setting seed and to preserve their strength. Apply a slow-release fertilizer to keep foliage growing. This will assure healthy growth and good bloom the following year.

 

4. Fall trimming. Some perennial plants die back to the roots in fall; cut stems back to 3-4 in. above crowns. The clump will send up new growth in early spring.

5. Dividing and Multiplying. Most perennials may be divided after 2 or 3 years to provide a continual source of new plants. To keep plants healthy, they should be divided before they become over-crowded. After 3 or 4 years of growth, dig up the root masses in early fall or spring in our area. Cut the crown of each perennial into several sections with a sharp knife, with each piece retaining its own root system. If the center portion of the old plant shows heavy, woody growth, discard it and replant only the younger outer portions of the clump. Mulch perennials heavily to provide winter protection.