Nothing is healthier and more satisfying for your body than fresh-picked veggies from your own garden. Growing your own vegetables is not only healthy for your body but great therapy for your mind. I don’t know about you, but every time I harvest a fresh vegetable that I grew myself, I feel mentally and physically great!
Here are 5 tips that you may not know to get the most out of your summer vegetable garden:
You only need these vegetables for one season, so fertilize & push the heck out of them. What have you got to lose? Fertilize every two weeks with granular, slow-release food, such as Espoma’s Garden Tone but don’t stop there! Use Van Wilgen’s Organic Fish & Seaweed every two weeks too! Fish & Seaweed fertilizer used on your veggies in the hot summer is the best. They drink it up without burning AND it makes your veggies taste better!
Add a little Garden Lime to tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash. All of these veggies are prone to Blossom End Rot due to a lack of calcium. Lime gives them the added calcium they need to stop the rot! If it’s too late and your poor tomatoes are already showing signs of rot, use Bonide’s Rot Stop as your quick fix. It’ll work, I promise!
Keep soil as evenly damp as possible but don’t water overhead. Contrary to popular belief, your veggies do not like to have their foliage watered. Always water slowly and at the base of plants. Don’t let the soil dry out too much between waterings and no puddles! Overhead watering leads to many more disease problems, so keep it low.
4. DISEASE CONTROL:
Start spraying disease-prone plants before the disease actually shows up. Use organic Fungicides such as Copper by Bonide. Fungicides used weekly two to three weeks before the disease usually shows up could stop it altogether. By being proactive, you can stop Septoria Leaf Spot on tomatoes & Powdery Mildew on cucumbers and squash before it even starts. This means less spraying in the long run and much healthier veggies all summer.
5. INSECT CONTROL:
If you’re looking to go organic, there are many choices, but one organic product may not kill them all. To get all types of veggie garden bugs, you have to sometimes mix it up or be sure to pick the best active ingredient. Neem oil is best for sucking types of insects such as aphids and leafhoppers. Pyrethrins are best on leaf chewing beetles. Insecticidal Soap kills Plant Bugs such as Squash Bugs. Spinosad, such as Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, is best at controlling leaf-eating caterpillars. When in doubt, just pay us a visit and we’d be happy to recommend a product that will work best for your needs. You can’t go wrong!
Follow these steps now, and you’ll be enjoying delicious, fresh veggies in no time!
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.
Now that we are starting to see and enjoy some nice weather, my family’s container gardens at our house are starting to take off. My wife always requests that we have at least one big pot of herbs growing on our deck each summer and this year we have two. My daughter, Nora, planted an herb bowl for Mother’s Day
at our Kids Klub event and Kirstin potted up a great assortment for us a few weeks ago. My wife uses a lot of fresh herbs when she cooks and this time of year it is so convenient to walk right out on the deck and snip some herbs. We all have our must-haves but on our list is definitely: BBQ Rosemary, Genovese Basil, English Thyme, Flat leaf Parsley and Mojito Mint. If you are looking for something fun and different, try Pesto Perpetua Basil. It is a variegated leaf, great grower, EXTREMELY pungent and flavorful as well as looks great in containers even amongst flowers. A bonus for all you foodscaping enthusiasts. This past weekend she made one of my favorites, Turkey Meatloaf that she has adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Give it a whirl, let me know how you like it!
Turkey Meatloaf with fresh Thyme:
Pre-heat oven to 325
Olive oil for sautéing
2 medium sweet onions chopped up
3 tablespoons fresh thyme (pull the little leaves off of the woody stems)
3-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup (we use Heinz Simply Ketchup)
2 LBs lean ground turkey meat
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1 large egg beaten
Ketchup for topping.
Heat the olive oil on low/medium in a medium sauté/frying pan and add the chopped onions. Sauté until slightly translucent. *Hint* In our house we always start the onions with a few tablespoons of olive oil but usually use a little water if they start sticking to the pan to cut down on the amount of oil we use. After the onions have been sautéed for a few minutes, add the Worcestershire sauce, 4 tablespoons of ketchup, and the fresh thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes. Pull the pan off of the stove and let it cool.
Line a large cookie sheet (with sides) or a Pyrex cooking dish with a sheet of tin foil for easy clean-up later.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, egg, and cooled onion mixture. Make sure to take off any rings you have on because we are about to get messy! Using your hands, mix all ingredients together. Once everything is mixed, form a “loaf” on the cookie sheet. Grab your ketchup bottle and pour a generous amount of ketchup over the top of the “loaf”. Using a spoon, spread the ketchup evenly across the top.
Slide your cooking sheet into the oven (middle shelf if you can) and let it bake for about an hour or until the internal temperature of the center of the meatloaf reaches 165.
Not only does this make a great dinner, but even better is leftovers on a sandwich for lunch the next day!
Ryan Van Wilgen