Choosing healthy Transplants! When at the nursery, check if a plant is root bound. Carefully pop the plant right out of the container! You want white lively roots with plenty of space between them; no girdling, no tan color like the ones at the left in the image. A girdled plant will never be quite as healthy as one that has had normal growth. If they are tan they are old and may have disease.
If your soil is poor, or you have only asphalt or concrete, consider raised beds or straw bale gardening!
Nowhere in nature will you find row furrows. Plant for biodiversity! In fact, California entomologists compared plantings of all one variety of broccoli to mixed plantings of four cultivars. They found that the combination crops had fewer cabbage aphids. So merely mixing varieties in a monocultural planting may help reduce pest problems.
Lettuces can be kept from bolting, producing a stalk, by regularly picking the outer leaves, keeping them from maturing properly. This ‘cut and come again’ approach to harvesting can extend the time they produce for up to 10 weeks!
Vermicompost, Worm Castings, causes seeds to germinate more quickly, seedlings to grow faster, leaves grow bigger, and more flowers, fruits or vegetables are produced. These effects are greatest when a smaller amount of vermicompost is used—just 10-40 percent of the total volume of the plant growth medium in which it is incorporated.
Intercrop, Interplant for better space usage!
- fast and slow growing plants in the same space, like radishes and carrots or spinach and peas
- small plants next to large like cantaloupe and corn or spinach and Brussels sprouts
- deep and shallow plants like potatoes and cabbage or turnips and lettuce
- heavy and light feeders like broccoli and carrots or corn and beans
To avoid mildew, space your plantings enough for air circulation and, especially if your area is shady and/or if you water evenings. Better to water at ground level, not overhead, in the AMs if possible. It’s good to rinse off leaves from time to time, so your plant can fully photosynthesize for fat harvests! Too much dust and dirt can hinder that process.
If your soil is crusty or hard and ‘heavy,’ it’s hungry. It needs humus, more compost. Compost keeps your soil soft and friable, increases its water holding capacity, adds nutrients. Yes!