Greetings from Jenny at EverGood Farm. I’m back to give you some more tips on keeping your veggie gardens going all summer (…and fall) long! It’s great to finally have some warm temperatures here in Northern Wisconsin and while it was a late spring, the crops seems to be making up for lost time and growing fast. We hope that it’s happening in your gardens too. Now onto to our summer gardening guide…
Keeping your garden healthy: So you’ve planted everything and now what?
-Continue to weed and weed some more. You may have stayed on top of the weeds so far, but to keep them from creeping back in on crops that don’t have the leaf coverage or are still babies (think anything in the onion family, carrots, and anything still small) it can’t hurt to quickly run your scuttle hoe or three pronged tool through the beds 1 x a week.
-Fertilize any of your longer season crops. A good rule of thumb is to fertilize after the 2nd set of leaves have grown, or about every 2-3 weeks once the plant is maturing. Here is what we do: for our baby greens we don’t fertilize and rely on manure in the soil since they don’t need much in the way of fertility. Anything longer season we side dress with pelletized chicken manure, or a foliar spray of fish emulsion and seaweed. Crops like, the squashes, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and anything else that is in the ground longer than a month, sprinkle a light dressing around the plants and then lightly rake in with a hoe being careful not to damage the roots. Most garden centers and big box stores carry pelletilzed chicken manure, and a fish/seaweed emulsion.
-Thinning. Have your beets and carrots come come up very thick? Spacing should be about 1-2 inches and even a bit more for beets. Quickly go through and pull out any extra seedlings. This is really hard to do your first time, but trust me, you’ll get a better final product if you take the time to do this. Don’t feel like thinning? Try seed tape next time. It’s a little more expensive but the handwork of thinning is done. It can be found at Johnny’s Seeds.
-Irrigation: Most small gardens can be simply watered with a garden hose or sprinklers. However if you would like to conserve water, or have larger garden, most crops can be grown with soaker hose or drip tape. We do a combination of overhead sprinkler irrigation and drip tape. Veggies that do better on drip tape include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, squashes, cucumbers, and melon since they have leaves that are more susceptible to mold and fungus from being too wet. Others, like your larger greens and broccoli type crops, would do well on drip tape too.
-Disease and Insects: As the temperatures warm up certain diseases and insects come out. Some of the more common problems we hear about include aphids, potato beetles, white fly, flea beetles, and various forms of green caterpillars. Some can be controlled with home-made sprays, some can be controlled with beneficial insects and some just need to be hand picked (potato beetles,caterpillars). Also look into breathable fabric row covers (or insect netting) like agribon, which can be purchased online or at some well stocked garden centers. Some diseases to watch out for include early and late blight on potatoes and tomatoes, and fungus problems on squash, cucumbers and melons. Remember that most extension offices will analyze leaf samples to identify diseases and a quick online search can often yield good pictures for insect and disease identification.
-You may have already harvested a crop of baby greens or salad mix this spring. If it it is finished, pull it out and rake or till it in. Once it is decomposed add a little more compost and plant something else there. Continue to do this all summer to have a steady supply of vegetables.
-Crop Rotation: This one is really important especially for veggies that are more susceptible to disease and have high nutrient needs (Think broccoli type crops, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, and anything that is in the ground a long time). The key to crop rotation is to try not to plant vegetables in the same family in the same location. For example after your baby lettuce has been harvested this spring, plant some broccoli there, or after your radishes have finished plant your tomatoes, cucumbers, or melons there. Finally, for plants in the tomato family (peppers, eggplant, potatoes) you’ll want to keep out of the same patch for a couple years if possible. Sometimes it helps to map it out year by year and there are also some online programs that do just this!
-It seems like summer has just arrived but now is the time to start thinking about your fall gardens. Fall broccoli and kale can get seeded about now and in a few weeks you’ll want to put in some fall carrots. Keep planting your greens until August (for northern gardens). We always make sure our last planting of greens is a big one as growth really starts to slow down in September.
Click here for Johnny’s Seed’s suggestions for fall crops to plant now.
Happy gardening everyone! Stay tuned for our fall gardening guide due out in early September. I will talk about closing up your gardens for winter, frost protection, keeping your garden disease free and more!
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