Planting Vegetables – A Few Tips

Cucumbers planted with an insect shield placed around it

Now is the time to plant most summer vegetables, whether you are seeding the veggies or using transplants. Here are a few thing I do that seem to work for me.

  • When planting squash or cucumbers I like to put a ring of an inert material around the plant. This year since I germinated my seeds in pots, I punctured the side of the pot before I filled the plastic pots with soil. When I planted them this weekend I simply cut the entire pot, all the way around from the puncture, and transplanted the small plants into the garden mounded soil. The ring was able to be placed around the plant without disturbing the leaves. Hopefully this will deter cutworms from invading the stems.
  • Don’t be afraid to trellis your cucumbers. It not only saves space, but it also can prevent fruits from rotting on the ground if we have lots of rain.
  • Be sure and plant your tomatoes deep. If you are staking them, put the first stake in at planting, so you can start training them early.
  • Wait on planting okra until the soil is much warmer, if you are seeding them. I usually wait until around May 15 or later to get maximum germination. By the way, I always pour boiling water over the seeds about an hour before planting to try to soften the hard seed coat.
  • Since my garden is small I always plant pole beans and bush beans on the same row. I make a wide row for the beans. Under the area to be trellised, I plant the pole beans, and about six to eight inches in front of the pole beans I plant the bush beans. Generally the bush beans will produce several meals, and once the pole beans start producing I pull up the bush beans and mulch the pole beans to keep production going until early fall.
  • Peppers like warm soils and are excellent to grow in containers, and many of them are very attractive. For over 20 years I have planted two earth boxes (it is a commercial product). Six bell peppers of different colors allow us to produce all we need and give lots away, too.
  • I grow eggplants but have now limited my type to the white and oriental types. Why, because the big types like black beauty tend to get seedy quicker and can easily overwhelm us with fruit. These smaller types are prolific but seem to not mature and become tough as the large types do.
  • If all goes well, I will have lettuce until June. As I harvest the leaves, I remove the largest leaves first. Once open spots appear I go ahead and plant tomatoes,peppers or egg plants, while we continue to harvest the lettuce. That way we will not have to delay planting until all the leaves are harvested.
  • Mulch your veggies if you want to cut down on summer watering and weeds. I only mulch with pine straw. I never use bark because its decomposition uses nitrogen to decompose. If you are using drip irrigation, put the hoses under the mulch to increase its effectiveness.

Please let me know of other things that you do in your garden that others might find useful.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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