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Ten steps to garden success


I’m sure many of you have been making seed choices for the upcoming garden planting season as you thumb through the pages of the gardening catalogs that land in your mailbox. Making good seed choices is but one of the many steps that must be taken to achieve success in the garden.

Choosing a good location is one of the first steps that needs to be considered. The location should contain good soil that is loose, fertile, level, and drains well. Stay away from trees and bushes whose roots will compete for water and nutrients and that may shade the garden area.

Having a water source nearby will be needed for periods of dry weather.

Next you will want to sketch a map of the garden for plant or crop arrangement. Take into consideration the size of the garden, what you will be planting, the growing season, and growth characteristics of what you will be planting.

Grow recommended varieties for your area. I cannot stress this enough. What may grow well in Texas may not do so well here in Northern Indiana. Take care to choose varieties that are disease-resistant.

Have all equipment and supplies ready. My garden must-haves are a hoe, rake, shovel, wheelbarrow, measuring stick, string, and stakes. I also like to wear a carpenter’s apron to store small items in such as seeds, a felt tip marker, scissors, and my phone. Make a note to get any fungicides, fertilizers and insecticides (if you use them) early so you will have them on hand when needed.

Prepare the soil with organic matter and fertilizer and correct the acidity if needed. Another item I cannot stress enough is having your soil tested. It is very easy and inexpensive and will tell you what, if anything, your soil needs.

Take into consideration when and how you plant vegetables. Check the hardiness of the vegetables you are planting as some can take a little frost while others cannot. The seed packet will list it as hardy, half-hardy, tender, or very tender and may give you a “plant after” date. Plant disease-free seeds at their proper planting depth.

Keep the weeds in check. If allowed to get too large they will compete with the vegetables for water and nutrients.

Do not let those pesky insects take over your garden and stay on top of any diseases. Rotate your crops to avoid these issues.

Water properly during dry periods. Soak the soil thoroughly to a depth of about six inches. A garden will need one inch of water per week, including rainwater.

Harvest your vegetables at their peak. Do not allow vegetables to rot in the garden.

As always, Happy Gardening!