5 Things to Do Now For a Better Vegetable Garden

Niki Jabbour is Horticulture‘s resident expert on how to grow a better vegetable garden year-round. Here are some of Jabbour’s tips on how to get your vegetable garden ready now for planting and growing season. You need to dig, harvest, sow, clean and plant.

Early Spring Checklist for Your Vegetable Garden

Dig! Dig up any carrots and parsnips still in the ground before their new foliage emerges. If you wait too long and the plants start to actively grow, the roots quickly shrivel, reducing their quality.vegetable garden different color carrots

Harvest! Every September and October, I sow seed for hardy greens in my raised beds, which are then covered with a mini hoop tunnel for the winter. By March, it is time to crack those covers open and see if the plants have sized up enough to pick. Don’t forget to vent your structures on those early-spring days when the temperature rises above 40˚F.

Sow! March and April are busy months for seed starting; a large range of crops are started indoors. Just be careful to sow each at the proper time. Sowing them too early can result in overgrown or root-bound plants that won’t produce well once they have been moved to the garden.

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Make sure you check understand when is the right time to start seed for your area. Check the seed packet for clear instructions and know the last frost date for your area.

Clean! Get a jump on spring by tackling any tasks you neglected last autumn: sharpen and lubricate your pruners and clean up tomato cages, stakes and trellises still left in the garden. Apply a fresh layer of shredded leaves, straw or wood chips to pathways to keep feet mud-free after spring rains.

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Spring cleanup applies to the vegetable garden, too. Get those chores you didn’t get done last fall finished and get your beds ready for planting.

Plant! Love ginger? Consider growing your own this year. It is a perfect crop for containers on a sunny deck. The pots can be brought indoors in autumn for winter harvesting. Find a plump section of organic ginger at the grocery store. Look for a root that has at least two eyes (cone-shape bumps). Soak it in warm water for 8 to 10 hours. Fill a wide, shallow container with high-quality potting mix and plant the root two inches deep. Water often, keeping the soil moist but not wet. Place the pot in a bright spot, but not in direct sun, and expect to see sprouts in a few weeks. Allow the plant to grow for three to four months before you begin digging down and harvesting pieces of the root as needed.

To read the full article these tips were excerpted from check out the March/April 2018 issue of Horticulture and read Niki Jabbour’s Edibles Year-Round column. You can download the entire issue here.

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