How to keep a vegetable garden: the best tips for garden maintenance

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The most exciting parts of horticulture, for the most part, are the sprawling shopping for seedlings (or seeds) and the long-awaited celebration of the harvest. But there are obviously some things to do on the in-between days. Let’s face it, gardening can seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, especially if you can break the tasks down into small goals that you can tackle during the week (or in some cases every month).

I know that taking a trip to examine leaves for pests may not seem as thrilling as watching your first tomato change color, but it is necessary. In fact, the more comfortable and consistent you feel about observing your plants during the growing season, the sooner you’ll be able to spot any suspicious events and swoop in before the damage is done. A few minutes of walking in the garden each week will save you a lot more time in the long run; let’s just say it’s much easier to get rid of a dozen aphids with a hose than to resurrect a plant that has been devoured.

Where each season has its own specific to-do list, this particular checklist is a great place to start, no matter when you’re growing up. Think of this as your getting started guide to keeping your vegetable garden (or garden pots) happy and healthy from start to finish. Don’t even feel like you have to go through all these matters in one afternoon. It’s up to you to schedule blocks of time during the week or month, making maintenance more of a rhythmic routine rather than a mad rush to correct an overwhelming state of affairs. Plus, you may find that late season blooms are a meditative form of self-care! So make the most of this list and remember that even a few moments spent outside can be incredibly healing for your plants … and for yourself.

Health check

Pests and diseases are big trouble when discovered in the garden, but it’s not a death sentence! In fact, the sooner you fix the problem, the sooner your plant will recover. By checking in often, you will be able to notice any early changes such as leaf discoloration or gnawing marks, and you will be able to take action before your plant suffers.

Soil care

Healthy soil equals healthy plants. Compost, mulch, and standing on top of weeds are three of the most important things you can do. Compost enriches the soil with beneficial microbes, while mulch helps retain moisture and suppresses weeds. If you want to add a fertilizer feeding routine, apply a nutrient-rich liquid such as seaweed or seaweed every 3 to 4 weeks after planting and during harvest time.

Irrigation program

How often and how much you give your plants to drink really depends on the weather, location and type of vegetable you are growing. That said, there are many variables and many can change as temperatures rise … or your dripline decides to stop working. By controlling irrigation systems and soil moisture, especially during the first few days of transplanting / growing, you will work out a routine that fits your specific plan. Watch out for 10-day forecasts, such as possible heat waves or frost warnings, so you can prepare your plants before the event.

Sesh size

Routine pruning and the removal of damaged or diseased foliage are very important as your plants mature. Even if you don’t detect any problems, overcrowding of the leaves can lead to future problems. It is a good idea to thin out overgrowth (tomatoes, squash, and vegetables like Swiss chard especially benefit) to increase airflow between the leaves. Just remember to clean the scissors if you cut sickly looking stems and leaves, to stop spreading between plants. If you’re adding flowering companion plants to the mix (my three to-dos are marigolds, marigolds, and borage), don’t forget to bloom out of stock to encourage even more flower production.

Support group

Some vegetables have jaw-dropping growth spurts that occur overnight. What might seem manageable one day could be a massive and intricate nightmare the next. Arm yourself with the appropriate trellis, stakes and / or clips and put them in place before your plant is too large to incorporate. By properly supporting your climbing, climbing, and towering veggies (think tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers), you’ll provide additional strength and avoid broken or damaged stems as they begin to bear the weight of ripening fruit. Once the plants start producing, it’s a great time to check out new fruit again that may need additional support.

Succession planting

If you’re not familiar with the term, this is the practice of directly sowing seeds every 7-21 days to maintain a consistent crop throughout the season (basically, the garden that keeps on giving). This is especially effective for root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes), herbs, leafy greens and onions. I strongly encourage you to experience this in both garden beds and garden pots alike. It’s also a good back-up plan to have a second, third, or fourth round of goods on the way as you learn what your particular plants need.

Collection

It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to choose your products! You’d be surprised how a few days can make the difference between cool and funky. Not to mention some garden plants, such as aromatic herbs (hello, basil!), Which increase production the more you harvest them. So encourage your plant to keep giving and don’t be shy about harvesting your possessions!

Preparation for the next season

It’s hard to think about what to grow next when you love the current state of affairs (and by things I mean being up to my neck in “mentioning your favorite vegetable here”), but each season has its own timing and you need to make sure you’ve cleared it. appropriate space, and the seeds and beginnings ready to go into the ground, in time. This is especially true of the accelerated pace that is spring blurring into summer and the lightning cycle that is autumn. Where winter is a great downtime to rest and reflect on what worked and what didn’t, you should still set aside some mid-season time to think about what might be needed as the new growing season approaches.

Tool maintenance

You’ve probably heard me singing the praises of keeping things clean in the garden before. But it’s worth mentioning again: keep shears, shears and grow pots disinfected, not only when working with problem plants, but at the end of each growing season, to give yourself a head start and freshen up for the next.


What important garden maintenance tasks did we miss out on? Tell us in the comments.

Photo by Angelyn Cabrales

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