Vegetable Gardening Tips From Northumberland Master Gardeners

Like many other groups, Northumberland Master Gardeners were unable to meet in April so we do not have a meeting speaker to report on. Instead, we have decided to complile all of our best vegetable gardening tips and share them with you our readers.
These are in no particular order but reflect the best vegetable gardening practices of our members.

1. Use raised beds. They are great for one’s back!

2. Use lots of good compost, and top it up every year. One of the most important
things you can do is amend the soil in your vegetable bed. Vegetables are heavy

3. Use straw mulch. It attracts beneficial insects.

4. Use wire cages over your raised beds to protect seedlings from wildlife.

5. Use row covers for protecting brassica from the dreaded cabbage moth.

6. Use a strip of row cloth over newly planted pea seeds. The birds won’t nip off the
shoots as they emerge. This can be removed once the pea shoots begin to
develop more leaves and can fend for themselves.

7. Row cloth is also useful to keep carrot rust fly from your carrots. As soon as you
plant your carrot seeds, cover the entire area of the planting with row cover. Only
open it to thin and harvest the carrots. You will need to leave an extra amount of
row cloth rolled up around the edges so that you can let it out to give the carrots
room to grow underneath.

8. Hand pick potato beetles. Be patient!

9.. Plant what you really love to eat because you’ll be eating it alot! Give some away

10. Think about planting vegetables with companions. One of the most well-known
type of companion planting is the “three sisters”, corn, beans and winter squash.
They work together well because are all seeded at the same time. The corn seeds are planted with the bean and squash seeds in between. As the corn grows, it provides a structure for the
pole beans to climb up The beans provide much needed nitrogen for the corn.
The squash vines cover the ground with a living mulch around the bean and corn
plants, conserving moisture and suppressing weeds. For the best nutrient benefits,
work as much of the plant material as you can back into the soil in the autumn.

11. If you plan to grow your snow peas on a trellis to save space, plant the peas
seeds early in the spring.  When they become established, interplant with pole
bean seeds, they will grow up among the pea vine. When the peas are exhausted
and quit producing the beans will take over and produce well into the fall.

12. Plant some nasturiums and marigolds among your vegetables. Both act to deter
pests. Nasturiums repel cucumber beetles,  marigolds deter aphids. The smell of
chives and garlic also deter aphids. If you plant calendula flowers among your
vegetables, they will attract and trap aphids and also bring beneficial ladybugs
to your garden.

13. Although not proven scientifically, growing basil with your tomato plants will
improve the flavour of your tomatoes.

14. Many vegetables such as corn, beans and cucumbers grow best when seeded
directly into the garden. You need to wait and plant these when the soil
temperature is above 15 degrees C.
To plant peas, radishes, swiss chard, lettuce, beets, carrots, parlsley, all considered cold-
hardy crops, the soil temperature needs to be at least 5 degrees C.

15. To prepare the seedbed, make sure that stones, clods and debris is removed
from the surface. Avoid over-cultivating as it can result in a crusty surface that the
seedlings cannot poke through. In raised beds, it is a good idea to put a thin
layer of some good triple mix where you plan to sow your seeds. This gives
them some instant nourishment and a soil surface that they can germinate in.

16. The general rule of thumb for the depth to plant the seed is to plant them three
times deeper in the soil than the width of the seed.

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