Thursday, June 4, 2009

Six Vegetable Gardening Questions you Need Answered

When is it safe to plant vegetables outdoors?
You log on to the USDA website, find the frost map for the United States, look up your zone and low and behold it is time to plant. But wait there’s more! The dates give for the last frost in your area are only a suggestion and the recommendation from most gardeners I talk to is two weeks after that date to avoid that rare case of cold weather that could wipe all of your indoor growth.

When should you start fertilizing your vegetable plants?
In short, never. Let me explain. Products like miracle grow and others similar to it do work and they work well. But if you really want to build a great garden and one that is chemical free, you need to compost. If you started your seedlings in a potting soil enhanced with products like miracle grow that is fine, but there is really no need to give it anymore than what is required and that is sun and water. Your plants will do fine.

What methods can be used to ensure I am getting the most production out of what little space I have? The word of the day is “up” boys and girls and know it well. Many vegetables such as beans and cucumbers can be grown vertically. You can accomplish this by placing a bean pole or narrow yet tall fencing next to these plants and then as they grow you assist by moving them up the structures. Going vertical will save you plenty of square footage in the garden for those plants that need the room.

What vegetables can I grow in the fall? Fall is a cooler time of the year so therefore look for vegetables that do better in a cooler climate. Lettuce, radishes, spinach, turnips and various other green vegetables do really well when the temperatures are starting to drop. Visit a local garden center and look for ones that are indigenous to your area and ask the people there. They can assist you in planting the right ones for your area.

I have limited space in my condo or apartment and want to grow vegetables from containers or pots. Is that possible? Yes it is very much so. Container gardening has become increasingly popular the last couple of years and the trend looks like it will rise. Regardless of whether a plant is in the ground or a container it needs sun and water so make sure wherever you put your plants you can easily access both. Tomatoes and peppers grow the best but you can try pretty much any type of vegetable, just make sure you use a large enough pot to satisfy the root growth. A pot no less than ten inches should suffice, however you can go as low as six inches for herbs.

How hot does it have to be for my tomatoes to produce fruit? Studies indicate that steady temperatures at or above seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit work best for tomatoes. The same studies also showed that it was the temperature that aided in ripening the tomatoes and not the direct sunlight.

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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