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Seasonal Tip

Vegetable Gardening
March 21, 2009

If you love eating a freshly picked tomato in July, now is the time to start planning and planting your garden.

First, you will need to pick a space that gets plenty of sun. Now look at that space and decide whether or not you want to plant in ground or use containers, or maybe a square foot garden (raised bed). If you are planting in the ground make sure you are not using the area you used last year, due to the blights that could be in the soil. The advantage to a raised bed or container garden is that the soil is easily replaced each year and you don't have to keep moving your garden.

Now you have to think of what kind of vegetables that you want to grow. Make sure you plan your garden so that the plants have the room to grow that they need. Tomatoes and peppers are the most popular. Pick a nice slicing tomato like Brandywine or Black Krim (both are heirloom varieties), a sauce tomato such as a San Marzano, and a cherry; Sweet 100 is prolific and tasty. Most tomatoes will benefit from the use of a cage to give them added support. Make sure to space your tomatoes 18"-24" apart.

Bell, Cubanelle (Banana), and Jalapeño are very popular garden peppers. Other varieties such as Poblano are very useful in Mexican cuisine and the Thai Dragon adds a lot of heat to Asian cuisine. Space your peppers 12"-18" apart.

Zucchini is a great summer garden plant that bears a lot of fruit. Make sure you give this vegetable plenty of room, at least 3 feet, and that you harvest the zucchini small at 6" or less. If zucchini is left too long on the vine it will become tough and not as tasty. Another good addition to any garden is eggplant. Give your eggplant 24" of space to grow and a cage can be useful. As with the zucchini, when harvesting the eggplant it is best to cut them while the fruit is still small and shiny.

Having a good medium for your plants to grow is key. You can use a pre-made mix such as Miracle-Gro Organic Choice, or make your own out of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost. Your never want to use topsoil for raised beds or containers as it is too heavy.

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