Planting a vegetable garden is an enjoyable and satisfying experience for the whole family.
Planting a vegetable garden is a great learning opportunity for children and adults alike. With our naturally rich Island soil, good quality seeds and plants, you can have a great garden, enjoying nature’s bounty as well as helping our environment by planting some of your own food.
Choose a location with lots of direct sunlight, avoid planting under shade trees. Remove the sod and till either by hand or a tiller. Soil amendments can be added at this time. Organic compost (not bark) well rotted manure, commercial or organic fertilizers may be added as directed.
If your garden has been in the same location for several years it would be a good idea to move to a fresh site. Often insects and disease may build up and over winter if the same area is used year after year. This is considered crop rotation, and used widely by farmers to grow successful crops with less pressure from insects and diseases that may over winter.
Apply a commercial fertilizer at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 or 6-12-12 per 60 square feet. If using manure from a farm be sure it is old and well rotted. Fresh manure will be too strong and will result in burning young tender roots.
When to Plant
The following may be planted early in the spring- as soon as the soil can be worked; peas, beets, radish, spinach, chars, carrots, onion seed or sets. For vegetables like beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes you must wait until the soil warms up or the seeds will not germinate. Remember to always sow and thin established plants as directed. If the seedlings are too thick this will prevent the plants from growing properly.
To ensure a continuous supply, certain vegetables need to be sown in succession. Basically, varying the planting time so the crop is not all ready at the same time. This is a practice we use at the farmmespecially with lettuce, broccoli, and of course yellow beans! When sowing wax beans you must wait until the first planting is up and growing a few inches. Typically later in the season, when the soil is warm they seem to pop up overnight. Remember to give them lots of space as beans do not like to be crowded. The last recommended planting date is July 20, after this date they may not mature before frost.
Vine Crops and Tomatoes
Vine crops include squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. They may be sown only when the soil is warm, typically around June 10-15. If you have purchased pre-started plants from a greenhouse (this will give you earlier crops) remember to water them well before planting and set them out on a calm day to prevent wind damage to the plant tissues. Once the plants have been out a day or two they will be hardened off to normal outdoor conditions. These crops require pollination to produce vegetables, hopefully you will see lots of bees buzzing!
Tomatoes and peppers
Tomatoes and peppers are usually purchased as pre-started plants. Favourite varieties of tomatose for Islanders are Scotia, Sweet Million, Big Beef, and Early Girl, favourite varities of peppers include Whopper, Early Red, and Garden Salsa. Read the descriptions of each variety and choose one(s) that best suits your needs. Tomatoes are usually grown with a support to keep the fruit off the ground, cages and stakes are available for purchase. Treat the plants with a preventative fungicide to prevent blight and fruit rot. There are products available that are environmentally friendly and safe for the home owner to use.
Potatoes are grown from tubers which are cut with one or more ’eyes’ in each piece. They are spaced in hilled rows about 8 to 10 in. apart. If you are growing early potatoes, monitor the weather and cover your potatoes with a cloth or blanket if there is a chance for frost. Frost will burn the tops of the plant and set them back in growth. Monitor closely for insects and diseases; potatoes should have a preventative fungicide applied on a 7 – 10 day schedule to prevent early and late blight from occurring. Also monitor your potatoes for insect damage and treat with an insecticide as necessary.
Cut flowers are easily grown from seed – cosmos, calendula, and bachelors’ buttons are good choices. Fragrant varieties include stocks, nicotina, and four o’clock.
Caring for your garden
Keep your garden free of weeds as they prevent your garden from growing properly.
Even with a very small garden you will be amazed at the amount of food you can produce!