1. Planting Methods: There are several methods for planting. Picking any of these methods depends on the vegetable, the size of your garden, and your fondness. Three methods of planting, namely, single rows, wide rows, and hills are clarified as follows:
A) Single Rows: In this method, seeds are sown in rows or lines that are spaced equal distances apart. The distances between the rows and between the seeds within the rows differ from vegetable to vegetable. If you want the rows to be straight, which gives a pleasant appearance to your garden, stretch a string between two stakes and sow the seeds along it. If you think this is too much work, use a stick to mark a line on the ground and try to make the line as straight as possible. With some training, you will get it straight.
B) Wide Rows: In wide row planting, seeds are sprinkled at equal spacing in both directions over a wide area. The width of the row varies from 6 to 16 inches. The row's width is limited by your arm's reach to the area in the middle of the row while standing at the edges. We find that wide rows are convenient and productive for peas and beans. In addition to giving high yield per unit area, they cut down on weeds. Wide rows are also good for starting leaf vegetables like lettuce and spinach. When the seedlings emerge, they can be thinned and transplanted elsewhere. Double rows are a special form of wide rows.
C) Hills: In hill planting, 3 to 5 seeds are sown close to each other. They need not be sown on a formed hill, as the name implies. This method is used for example when planting zucchini and cucumbers.
2. Gardening Tools: There are many gardening tools available on the market today. The basic tools you'll need are a shovel, trowel, steel rake, tomato cages, and a water hose or can. The shovel is used to till the soil, mix potting soil, move soil around, and cut the weeds if they grow big. Some gardeners use a fork instead of a shovel to till the soil, but we don't.
The choice is yours. The trowel is used for cultivating the weeds, transplanting the seedlings, mixing soil or fertilizers, and filling containers with soil. The steel rake is used to grade the soil and to compact the soil over the seeds. Tomato cages are indispensable for supporting tomato plants. You can also use them to support running plants such as cucumbers and peas. Without them the plants will collapse on the ground and their fruit will get into contact with the soil and eventually decay. A hose or a can is used to water the plants in the garden and within containers.
3. Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is the practice of planting each vegetable in a different location each year. The advantages of crop rotation are:
A) The chances of transmitting diseases and insects to next year's crop are very much reduced. Certain diseases and insects attack certain vegetables. These diseases and insects move from the plants to the soil, where they winter. If the same vegetable is planted in the same spot the following year, the diseases and insects will surface from the soil and attack the new plants once again.
B) Each vegetable absorbs trace amounts of specific minerals from the soil. If the same vegetable is planted in the same spot year after year, the minerals the vegetable needs to grow healthy plants will be depleted, resulting in a meagre harvest.
C) The roots of legumes (peas and beans) have bacteria that soak up nitrogen from the air and fix it on the roots of the plants and in the soil. To take advantage of the nitrogen they fix in the soil, the legumes should be followed by a leafy vegetable, such as lettuce and or spinach, which both need nitrogen-rich soil. This is one of the techniques organic growers use to grow vegetables without the use of chemical fertilizers. It may be impractical to rotate every crop each year if your garden is small.
This difficulty can be overcome by taking the following measures:
(1) choose disease-resistant vegetable varieties, (2) keep your garden clean of rubbish, and (3) watch for insects and diseases. If a plant becomes teeming with insects, pick them by hand; if a plant is infected by a disease, pull it from the ground and dispose of it.
4. Proper Gardening Clothing: In the course of gardening, your footwear and clothes are likely to be soiled. You walk on dirt and or mud, your clothes make contact with plant leaves and stems, and your hands are soiled. You are also exposed to the sun. Your shoes accumulate mud and will soil the floor if you walk directly into the house. Therefore, you should have a pair of aged shoes set aside for gardening. Put them on before going into the garden and take them off before entering the house. Leave them in the garage or put them in a bag until you use them again.
Also, have special clothes for the garden. If you don't, your ordinary clothes will be soiled no matter how careful you are. To protect your hands and fingernails from collecting dirt, use a good pair of garden gloves. Some are washable and can be reused again and again...
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