Which Way Should Your Rows Run?
Which way should your rows run? In temperate climates, make your vegetable rows from east to west so that all the plants receive maximum sunshine. In hot, arid climates, run the rows from north to south so that each plant will be shaded by a neighbor on the warm south side.
The Neatest Gardens Have Straight Rows
The neatest gardens have straight rows, which is important if you use a tiller to cultivate between plantings. But it’s harder than it looks to make straight garden rows freehand. For planting heavy seeds, such as beans, put sticks in the ground at each end of a row and run a piece of string between them to guide you as you plant.To plant dozens of lightweight seeds in a snap, cut a piece of string the same length as the row, wet it thoroughly, and sprinkle the seeds directly on it. The moisture will make seeds stick long enough to lay the string in a prepared furrow. Just cover the string with soil, and you’re done!
Keep Everything Within Easy Reach
Keep everything within easy reach. To make tending beds easier,make them no wider than the spread of your arms-that’s about 4 feet (1.2 meters).Design a main path wide enough for a wheelbarrow, at least 3 feet (1 meter) wide, and include footpaths 1 foot (30 cm) wide between beds.To suppress weeds and provide a clean place to walk, keep paths covered with straw, chopped leaves, boards, or strips of scrap carpeting.
Make the Most of Limited Space
Make the most of limited space. Plant vertical crops, such as peas and pole beans, which take up little ground space. Or try dwarf varieties, such as ‘Tom Thumb Midget’ lettuce and ‘Tiny Dill’ cucumbers.Many dwarf varieties can also be grown in roomy containers kept on a deck or patio.
Protect Vegetables with Old Tires
Protect vegetables with old tires. If you’re eager to get an early start in spring, plant your tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, or other vegetables inside old tires laid on the ground. The tires will protect the plants from harsh winds, and the dark rubber will absorb heat from the sun and warm the surrounding soil.
Leave Room for Blooms
Leave room for blooms. Flowers in the vegetable garden not only make it a more pleasant place to work, but also have practical uses.Many flowers attract beneficial insects, such as bees, ladybugs, and lacewings, while others may repel pests in search of your vegetables.Try French marigolds, cosmos, and zinnias as well as edible flowers like nasturtiums and violets.
Beans Boost Soil Nitrogen
Beans boost soil nitrogen. Beans, peas, and other legumes are among the few plants that enrich the soil with nitrogen-an element essential for plant growth. Legumes begin using up the nitrogen they’ve stored when they blossom and set fruit. If you pull them up early, they will leave nutrients behind in the soil that can be used by other plants.
Fill Up the Season
Fill up the season. After harvesting a cool-weather crop (spring peas or spinach, for example), replant the space with a warm-weather vegetable (green beans or summer squash). Inter-plant quick growers (radishes) with slower ones (tomatoes).The short-term crop will be up and out before the slow grower can crowd or shade it.
Grow Vegetables that Look as Good as They Taste
Grow vegetables that look as good as they taste. Many common vegetables are attractive enough to be used as ornamentals.Use ‘Tequila Sunrise’ or ‘Chocolate Bell’ peppers and ‘Violet Queen’ cauliflower to add colour to the vegetable garden. For textured or colourful leaves, plant red chard, savoy cabbage, or ‘Red Sails’ lettuce.
Scare off Birds with Reflective Tape
Scare off birds with reflective tape. An innovative way to keep birds away from your vegetables is to hang strips of reflective tape over the plants.When the tape flutters in the breeze, it casts light across the garden, which spooks wary birds.
Shield Your Vegetable Garden
Shield your vegetable garden. For centuries, maybe millennia, gardeners have used companion planting to repel insect pests.Aromatic plants, such as basil, tansy,marigolds, and sage are all reputed to send a signal to bugs to go elsewhere, so try some near your prized vegetables. Mint, thyme, dill, and sage are old-time favorites near cabbage family plants (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) for their supposed ability to fend off cabbage moths. Best of all, you can eat most of these savory herbs!
Move Things Around
Move things around. Crop rotation is essential for preventing a buildup of harmful soilborne microbes that prefer certain plants. For this reason, don’t plant a vegetable or a member of its family in the same place year after year. Instead, divide the garden into sections and move the plants from one area to another.As a general rule, a plant should be replanted in its original spot only every three or four years.