I’m afraid blogging has left me with the feeling that I should share thoughts even when I don’t have any good ones. Lucky you. So I’ll pull some out of my big fat…idea bag.
Vertical gardening isn’t just for patio plots or square foot gardeners. Even in my fair-sized garden, I’ve been realizing the wisdom of movin on up. It’s easier than adding and preparing horizontal space in the ground. Benefits? A) you get more room for more stuff. And 2) it really, really helps keep diseases away. Oh, and everything’s easier to pick. Peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, even melons. Anything that wants to climb should have that opportunity.
Cover your eyes if you’ve read this previously here. That way I won’t be repeating myself. Do yourself a favor and get a roll of concrete reinforcing wire. It’s like garden duct tape. And it can last outside for twenty or more years. Tomato cages, trellis, fencing, hoop houses. Marvelous stuff. You’ll need a pickup or large car to get it home, and a pair of bolt cutters (which are awesome, and cut through the stuff like butter). And maybe pick up a few T posts and a post driver while you’re at the big box store. I know, it adds up. But amortize for the rest of your life, and it’s a bargain.
Since my soil is sandy-ish and tends toward being alkaline, I dig about a gallon of peat moss into the area around tomato planting holes. Not sure that’s accepted practice, but it makes sense to me. Tomatoes like a slightly acid soil (peat is acidic), and whether it’s sand or clay, peat will help normalize the moisture. I haven’t researched the concept, or even read about it. Just made sense to me.
And while we’re on the subject of tomatoes, I know without any question that the best thing you can do for them is give them healthy, active soil. Same goes for the rest of the garden plants. But some little red devil that lives on my shoulder tells me every year that I should add something more to the tomato holes. Ah, well. I guess if you’re moderate and slightly wise about what it is you add, you can get away with it. Go ahead and try diatomaceous earth, banana peels!, tums, eggshells…just know why, and don’t go overboard.
Cover your eyes again. I tried starting carrots under a couple of boards last year, and was impressed with the germination rate. It does two things; it keeps the soil moist, which is critical with those obnoxiously small seeds, and it gives the babies a fighting chance with the weeds. Start checking under the boards after a week or so, and remove them as soon as the carrots pop out. Then be brutally diligent about thinning and weeding.
Use one of those pathetic cone-shaped store-bought tomato cages to support your zucchini plants. Keeps the leaves off the ground, and makes it much more enjoyable to squash those yellow eggs under the leaves (or, bonus thought, to peel them off with duct tape.). It’s just plain easier to tell what’s going on. Those cones are also good for pepper plants.
When your cauliflower heads are about the size of golf balls, gather up the leaves and tie them around the tops of the plants to keep the florets nice and white. Spray with Bt if you don’t want to pick little green poop out of your curds later.
Don’t pick your sunflower heads too early. They get moldy really easily. True story.
Next time I do this, I’ll try to bring up more of the really dumb things I’ve done. But for now, there’s an image to project.
Happy late New Year!