• 30Aug

    I’m partially writing down some of these garden tips I’ve learned, because I tend to forget things. In parentheses I’ll note whether or not I’ve tried them yet.

    –Determinate tomatoes can withstand lower temps than indeterminate and they ripen earlier. Therefore, for a better and earlier crop, plant both kinds. (I stopped growing determinates because they only produce one crop instead of an ongoing harvest, but I’ll fix that next year.)

    –My uncle, a lifelong farmer and avid gardener, plants his garden early. In the Midwest Zone 6, where I’m from, the rule of thumb is plant on or after Mother’s Day. There’s never a frost after that (unless it’s a completely freak year for the record books). He plants in mid-April and accepts that some years he’ll lose most things to frost and will have to replant. But he’s known for having the earliest and biggest crops around. He thinks the risk and cost of possible replanting is worth it for a longer growing season. (I’ve decided to try this in 2009 and grow double plants from seed, plus use row covers in case of frost. We’ll see if the row covers work, and how much I end up replacing.)

    –Put down newspapers to suppress weeds. Put mulch (bark, straw, leaves) on top. (I do this yearly and have no weed problems in the areas I use it. But I think sometimes a layer of straw/leaves can attract grasshoppers and leafhoppers.)

    –Liquid seaweed (or ground up fresh seaweed if you have access – be sure to rinse well to remove salt) is a good boost for anyone’s garden, whether flower or vegetable. It helps avoid transplant shock, adds micronutrients during the growing season, helps blooming and fruit setting. My favorite brand is MaxiCrop, and it’s widely available at any organic garden store, or online. But other brands are good too. Just mix per instructions with water and water or spray onto plants. (I consider my Maxicrop the most important item in my kit, along with fresh compost tea.)

    –If you know any cat owners who buy cat litter in the buckets, ask them to save the buckets. You can use these for brewing compost tea, to store garden supplies and much  more.

    I keep a bucket next to my vegetable garden with my staples (Maxicrop, wildlife-friendly slug bait, Shake Away, hand tools). I don’t have to run back and forth to the garage or basement, and everything is in one place. The bucket lid keeps everything dry.