Today, I will be sharing some tips on vegetable gardening that hopefully will tip the scales in your favor for a positive gardening experience. I will be sharing tips from a UGA publication by Bob Westerfield, UGA Horticulturist and David Linvill, Chatham County Extension Agent.
Proper site selection is a starting point in vegetable gardening success. If you think about it, we select proper sites for our trees and shrubs so a vegetable garden is no different. The first key is that the site needs to be one that receives good quality sunlight between eight to 10 hours per day. Stay away from those shady areas.
Try to find a spot where the soil drains well and also keep in mind that it is better that the site is close to the house and your water source. If the area is already fairly weed free that is going to be a plus too.
Make a plan on what you want to plant and where you are going to plant that particular vegetable. If you have your garden mapped out, you can use that in planning your crop rotation in that space for future plantings. You can plan according to sunlight too by planting your taller growing items on the north or west side of the garden so they will not shade out the lower growing items.
I learned a long time ago to not sway folks on varieties. Tomatoes for example are personal preference. There are also some items that are just family traditions such as Silver Queen corn. Our family garden would not be a garden without Silver Queen. From time to time, you may want to try a new variety of some things to see if you like that new variety item.
I probably could have put this earlier in the article, but soil sampling is something you should not overlook. We are naturally more acidic in NW Georgia. This means we are dealing with a lot of low pH soils. When the pH is low then it leaves you open for fertility issues and vegetables that may never take full advantage of that good fertilizer you are applying. Plus, a soil test will take out your guess work on how much lime to apply and will also give you fertilization recommendations.
Right now is a great time to send in that $9 soil test through our office to the UGA Soil Test Lab. You can call us for sampling details or pick up a sample bag with the directions on the back.
Fall is a great time to add fallen leaves or other organic materials such as compost to gardens to help build up the soils with organic matter. You can turn that material deeply in the soils.
Another thing to remember is that vegetable gardening is work. Now, it can be a healthy outdoor activity, but the larger the garden, the more effort and responsibility it takes. Keep in mind that weeds can be an issue so you may have to put some elbow grease into cultivating or buying a hoe for the garden. Mulching the garden can not only help with weed issues, but can help with reducing cultivation and helping soil moisture. If you use straw or manures in the garden, make sure they are coming from a herbicide free source.
Finally, there will be periods of time that you will have to add supplemental water to your garden. That is why being close to a well or other water source is important. Using soaker hoses or irrigation tape is better than overhead sprinklers. You want to soak the ground and not the foliage. Foliage that stays wet for extended periods of time creates an environment for disease when you add in our heat and humidity along with disease pathogens. Just like row crop producers will scout large acreage for insects and disease, you need to investigate your garden for issues that you can handle early instead of letting the problems get more widespread.
For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.