Planting and caring for a veggie garden can be quite a game. It can be challenging, relaxing, frustrating, rewarding, educational, but most importantly…delicious! Who or what is to blame for the problems we may encounter with our veggie gardens? Let’s blame someone or something, shall we? Let’s blame some of the key players in the veggie garden game. The key players that we are going to use as scapegoats are; temperature, soil, light, and water. Sometimes it’s an insect, sometimes a disease, occasionally Mother Nature plays a part, and often the gardener is the guilty one. Let’s face it, folks, none of us are perfect gardeners! We try. We try so hard but sometimes our schedules get in the way or we are just not sure what to do. Should this stop us? Never! Gardening is one of the healthiest and rewarding hobbies we can ever have.
Let’s place some of the blame for a poor performing veggie garden on temperature. Temperature is a key player in the veggie garden game. If it is erratic, too cold, or too hot, it can foul up the game.
If the soil and air are too cold…
•Vegetable seedlings may grow very slowly and turn yellow.
•Tomatoes may stay “greenback” and fail to ripen at the stem end.
•Flowers may prematurely bolt and bloom.
•Leaves may brown and melt away at the tips due to frost.
If temperatures are too hot…
•Leaves may turn brown along the edges and tips from leaf scorch.
•Crops may be stunted.
•Produce can be strongly flavored.
•Beets can develop a bull-eye pattern.
•Onion bulbs may turn gray on the outer layers.
•Flowers may prematurely bloom.
Gardeners don’t have any control over temperature but we can pay attention and be sure not to plant veggies too early in the season.
Soil is a very important player in the game. Without good soil, you will not have good vegetables. Soil deficiencies can throw the veggie garden game completely off.
Here are some examples of what you may come across…
•Lower leaves turning yellow and not falling off the plant may be a sign of low nitrogen.
•New leaves turning yellow while the veins stay green is often an iron deficiency.
•A potassium deficiency shows up as yellow leaf edges with brown spots.
•Purplish leaves and veins indicate a phosphorus deficiency.
•Black circular lesions on the blossom end of veggies is usually due to a lack of calcium.
•Forked and twisted carrots and potatoes mean the soil is too rocky or compact.
Veggie gardeners, you have a lot of control over your soil. Start out right and you will be rewarded with beautiful produce. Simple steps such as; turning over your soil, alleviating compaction with Encap’s Gypsum, fertilizing with Espoma’s Garden-Tone, adjusting your pH with Limestone, and adding rich compost can make all the difference in the world.
Do not downplay how crucial of a player light is to the veggie garden game. Without proper sunlight, issues can occur.
Issues such as…
•Vegetables get sunburned just like people. If you see larger brown, burnt patches on your leaves and/or fruit, the culprit may be too much sun.
•Leaf scorch will cause leaves to turn brown at the tips and edges.
•If leaves are pale green and plants are spindly, they are not getting enough sun and they are desperately reaching for it.
We obviously cannot move the sun but we can help our veggies get the right amount of light. As a rule of thumb, most vegetables that produce fruit can bake in the sun. Veggies such as; tomatoes, peppers, and squash love it. Consider putting your leafier vegetables in the less sunny part of the garden. Salad greens, broccoli, peas, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radish, chard, collards, spinach, and mustard will all tolerate a little less sunlight.
I don’t know if I can label water as the star player of the veggie game but it sure is one of the most important.
Here are some examples of water-related problems:
•Wilted veggies & bone dry soil means too little water.
•Wilted plants & soaking wet soil means too much water.
•Wilted vegetables in a container that recover quickly when watered & wilt quickly again are root-bound.
•Wilted veggies in the ground that have soaking wet soil are poorly drained.
•If leaves turn yellow & drop at the base of the stems first, the plant is getting too much water.
•If leaves turn brown at the tips & edges, they are getting too much sun and too little water.
•Stunted and strongly flavored vegetables may not be getting enough water.
•If tomatoes look scabby they probably received too much water.
Gardening friends, you have so much power when it comes to watering. If Mother Nature is not giving your veggies enough water, it is your job to take over. Plants need consistent, even watering to keep them healthy. Your vegetables would be happier if they were watered at the base as opposed to overhead and please do not let them dry out for too long.
Take good care of your veggies and they will take good care of you.
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
So your beautiful veggies are all planted or are just about to be. You’re feeling proud of your initial accomplishment, as you should be — but don’t get too comfortable! Your work isn’t done yet! Before you can sit back and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor, I have a quick checklist of continued care for your newly planted vegetable garden.
VEGGIE GARDEN CONTINUED CARE:
- Water regularly. Do not allow Your garden to dry out completely. Keep the bed evenly damp daily.
- Water at the base of the plant, preferably in the morning to keep diseases down.
- If you have not already added Garden Lime to your newly planted tomatoes, it is time. A few tablespoons per plant will do.
- Side dress plants/rows with fertilizer regularly throughout the growing season. If using an organic fertilizer such as Garden-Tone, a few tablespoons per plant, every 2 weeks will keep your veggies happy. If using conventional fertilizer such as VanWilgens Slow Release, 1 time per month should do!
- To keep diseases at bay, spray vulnerable plants, such as squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes with an organic fungicide weekly. Start sprays now with Copper or Garden fungicide.
- Keep a bottle of all-natural insecticide on hand, such as End All. This way, you will be ready to stop bad bugs as soon as they appear.
- Put down a 2 to 3-inch layer of Mainely Mulch straw to keep weeds from taking over. Top it off with a sprinkle of Preen Vegetable Garden and weeds have no chance.
- Just as your beautiful tomatoes, strawberries, etc start to ripen, keep an eye out for furry friends who love them just as much as you do. Store a bottle of Go Away all-natural animal repellent in your shed. It can be sprayed right on the fruit to keep critters away.
A gardener’s work is never done but the end results of your continued care are well worth it. From your garden to your table, you will feel pride with every juicy tomato, crunchy cucumber, and sweet pea you pick.
Winter is Coming… and that is not just for all you Game of Thrones fans. It is that time of year and the veggie growing season is drawing to a close. Fortunately, we do not have to prepare for The Night King or his army of White Walkers heading from the north but it is really nice to prepare for winter and enjoy as much of your garden as possible. For tomato lovers it is tough to watch the fruits of your labor go to waste so you pick everything you can, but what about all the tomatoes that will not have a chance to ripen? Some of them might ripen on the counter but for a lot of them, they will stay firm and green. My family, particularly my wife, stores as much as possible and she can’t stand to see anything go to waste so even though those tomatoes are green, we are going to use them!
Have you seen or heard of the movie, “fried green tomatoes”? Yep, you know where I’m going next. For a guy who is not a huge fan of “raw” tomatoes, the first time my wife placed a plate of fried green tomatoes in front of me I raised an eyebrow. I will say I was pleasantly surprised! Although who am I kidding, it’s fried, throw a little sriracha mayo for dipping and now we are talking. It kind of tastes like a tangier version of fried eggplant so go ahead and make it “Parmesan style” with sauce and cheese.
Give this recipe a shot and let us know what you think!
Best Fried Green Tomatoes
- Prep 5 m
- Cook 15 m
- Ready In 20 m
Recipe By: Diana Swenson-Siegel
“You can also fry up red tomatoes with this recipe but make sure they are not overripe or they will be mushy. Serve these tomatoes outside with a glass of iced tea one summer night and enjoy the sunset with someone you love.”
- 4 large green tomatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-quart vegetable oil for frying
- Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends.
- Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
- In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.