Vegetable Garden Maintenance Tips

Congratulations! You did it. You planted a vegetable garden. Now, you are on your way to grow fresh produce in your very own backyard. However, don’t be fooled. Your work is far from finished. So, what’s next? Not only do you have to plant your garden, but you must maintain it as well. Thankfully, we have all the information you need for a successful haul. It’s time to start staking, mulching, trimming, and more. Moreover, you will have to learn how to keep pesky animals away from your plants. Are you ready?

Watering

To begin, think about your watering system. What do you have available? Most people know they have to water their plants. However, it can be finicky. Constant water will produce the best results in your vegetable garden, especially if you have a large area to water.

For this reason, we suggest a soaker hose. Soaker hoses have thousands of tiny pores that drip out water slowly and at low pressure. Therefore, the water goes where the plants need it the most – the roots. Furthermore, soaker hoses save 60% more water than sprinkler systems. Needless to say, you don’t need a fancy system. A soaker hose will be your best choice for evenly watered soil.

Speaking of soil, this is the heart and soul of your vegetable garden. Therefore, you must keep it in pristine condition. Not too wet, not too dry. But how do you do that? First of all, you must know your soil type. Clay soil is more likely to hold water than a rocky one. So, you may have to water more or less. For best results, get your soil tested. That way, you will know exactly what you are dealing with.

5 Tips for Watering your Vegetable Garden

Water 1 inch per week. This is a tried and tested tip. Though, most people don’t know what an inch of water entails. In this case, buy a rain gauge. These nifty devices will show you how much water your garden is getting from the rain. In turn, you will know how much you need to water.

Avoid Watering Mid-Day. Ideally, water your vegetable garden early in the morning. This works best for multiple reasons. First of all, you lose less water to evaporation when it becomes hot. Secondly, water on leaves of plants will have time to dry before nightfall. When leaves remain dry, it lessens the likelihood of diseased plants. Lastly, when you water late in the day, you risk the chance of the soil drying up before it absorbs the water.

Collect Rainwater. Collecting rainwater is a great way to save money and give your plants the nourishment they need. It’s free and contains trace nutrients for vegetables.

Don’t use a Sprinkler. You may think a sprinkler will get the job done. Although it often creates more problems. When using a sprinkler, most of the water is wasted. Even worse, it creates a friendly environment for weeds to grow. As we mentioned, it is best to use a soaker hose or hand water. You can never go wrong with watering by hand.

Mulching

Mulching a garden is a step that many people bypass. But, people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this idea. Mulching has a variety of benefits.

Almost any organic matter can be used for mulch. Hay, straw, leaves, sawdust, paper, bark, or grass clippings are all excellent options. These materials will break down efficiently, leaving you with natural compost. Stay away from heavy substances such as hardwood chips. Keep these types of mulch for your flowerbeds, not your vegetable garden.

So, why should you use mulch in your vegetable garden?

  • Regulates soil temperature
  • Improves moisture retention
  • Reduces diseases
  • Prevents erosion
  • Reduces weeds

As a rule of thumb, keep your mulch around 3-4 inches thick.

Harvesting

As the season goes on, you become more eager to pick what you produce. But creating the perfect environment, and harvesting at the ideal time will help you get the most significant haul. We have a few tips to keep in mind before harvesting your delicious fruits and vegetables:

Get rid of dead vegetation. This includes dying leaves, pulled weeds, and plant stalks. Dying vegetable matter can be a haven for pests and will hinder the plant’s growth. When you properly discard of dying leaves, plants will begin regenerating. It’s a win/win. Your garden looks better, feels better, and you get more produce in the end!

Support plants that need it. Vegetables such as beans, peas, and cucumbers benefit from having support. Why can’t you just let them sprawl out? Well, for a few good reasons. Beans, for example, need to grow up, not out. Therefore, if you do not provide support, it is likely they will not flourish. Other plants, such as tomatoes, do best in cages. Depending on what you choose to grow, there are many support options. Keep your plants off the ground, and into the sunlight.

Last, but not least, pick when ready. Avoid picking produce too early, or too late. If you have an overabundance, give some away. Leaving vegetables to grow will result in a lack of flavour. You can also read our blog on preserving freshness if you have found yourself in abundance of fresh produce.

4 Steps to Keep Animals Out of Vegetable Garden

Step 1: Identify the Animals

In order to accurately defend your garden, you must know the culprit. Look for markings and footprints, etc.

Step 2: Create a Barrier

We shouldn’t assume we can plant our vegetable gardens and leave it wide open. Unfortunately, without a fence, a garden is an open invitation to the wildlife in your area. So, depending on the type of critter you have, build a barrier that will keep them out. Large animals such as deer require tall fences, up to 8 feet tall! However, for smaller animals such as rabbits, a short wire fence will suffice.

Step 3: Contain Compost

Yes, we encourage you to create your own compost. You will save on waste and provide your soil with rich nutrients. But keeping it tidy is crucial. Open compost piles are a feast for backyard critters.

Step 4: Use Natural Repellents

Generally speaking, you won’t hear us encourage the use of chemicals in our gardens at Hilltop Acres, or in your garden at home. But, adding natural repellents to your gardens is an effective alternative. Fragrant herbs such as mint, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and dill all make exceptional animal deterrents. Plus, you can use them in your cooking!

Last month, we gave you the tools to start your garden. This month, we give you the tools to succeed. Make us proud! And make sure you make time to visit us at the store for our weekly special.

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