Jim has been gardening for 34 years. He grows a plethora of vegetables that feed his family all year long once they’re canned – walla wall onions, romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, two types of potatoes, elephant garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, three types of corn, hubbard squash, two types of pumpkins, raspberries, green beans, tomatoes, peaches, plums, apples, pears… the list goes on and on!
This long-time gardener has lots of tips about how to best reap the benefits of your hard work.
First of all, Jim says the best way to get positive results from your garden is to start all your vegetables in a greenhouse. Make your own greenhouse with 2 X 4 frames and greenhouse film, which should last 10-15 years, in contrast to regular plastic which needs constant repair. Jim even used old house windows to give air flow and a house door for easy access.
The greenhouse is truly the key to success for Jim. All the vegetables were started in the greenhouse in April. Then, once the whether dries out and warms up, he moves the all vegetables outside – all the vegetables, that is, besides the tomatoes, which he plants inside the greenhouse.
Keeping the tomatoes inside the greenhouse protects them from late blight, Jim says. The tomatoes were started in February, the earliest of all the vegetables.
Jim has an important tip for the design of your garden. When creating your rows, make them raised with one – two feet deep ditches in between each row. The plateau of each row should be approximately one –two feet across, depending on what type of vegetable you’re growing. Plants that grow to be very large, like pumpkins or squash, need more space, while corn only needs about one foot.
Raised beds help control the moisture and add easy drainage to excess water, make weeding easier because you don’t have to bend over so far, and help plants by giving them a deep area to grow their roots, according to Jim.
Once he has his beds, Jim lays steer manure on his rows to add nutrients to his soil. In a lot of places in Raymond, the soil is rocky and needs extra nutrients.
To keep the deer out of his garden, Jim strings 2 X 4 fencing wire around some posts.
Late blight can be a problem for a lot of gardeners. If you get late blight in your potatoes, they must be dug up out of the garden to save the soil. Once the vines begin looking slimy, the potatoes that are growing on the plant will rot eventually, even if they are dug up and taken inside, Jim explains.
Having a careful watering technique is also vital to the health of your vegetables. Jim says to never water in direct sunlight because the hot sun will cook the leaves. Early morning is best for watering, but late evening will work as well. During hot spells, vegetables need to be watered every other day. When it’s been cloudy, watering every three-four days will suffice. Be careful not to overwater or underwater the plants!
Follow these tips to help you grow your dream garden and eat home-grown vegetable all year long! Look for more tips on growing flowers and vegetables in the How a garden grows section in two weeks!