June 2, 2011

Gardening with Mr. C. - DIY Gardening Tips

Now that you are hopefully getting the weeds under control, I want you to consider another garden thief - plant overcrowding.

Thinning of plants is as important as weeding, to allow the remaining ones to grow with less competition.  The seed packets give recommendations for planting (to improve the chance of some of them to grow) and for thinning spacing.  If you get a high percentage of germination, you will need to thin. If you still have the empty packets or the partial ones (saved for 2nd planting), consider storing them in a card file. You can record on cards what works or what to do better next year.  I keep my notes in a log book (future topic*). 

What has worked well for me (for years) is to plant radishes and lettuce together.  When the letttuce is well established and some of the radishes begin to fill out, I pull them all, leaving more room for the lettuce. In the before and after photos below, the dark green plants on each side of the lettuce (that will grab onto the 24" chicken wire fences for support) are "Little Marvel" pea plants that typically grow to be 20" tall.

                                           Lettuce and Radishes                        Lettuce 

The ones with round bottoms get washed and eaten. The tops and the rejects go directly on the compost pile (future topic*).  I thin the tender young lettuce and spinich (grown without radishes) plants incrementally, gradually making room for the mature plants. The ones I pull don't  go for compost but into tasty green salads.  (Stores charge extra for baby greens)

*Note: I try to pick topics based on the current phase of the growing season and defer the less time critical ones.

PS: I grow onions for winter storage and just started to pluck off the seed pods that form over the season on the top of them as they sap plant strength.

Till next week - Mr. C.

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