Questions from the Garden

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.07.38 AMThe Pitney Meadows Community Gardens are looking lovely and gardeners have been out all week tending their beds.

A few questions came up that everyone may want to know.

When can I pick my lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard?

The outer leaves of  loose leaf lettuce can be cut close to the base when the leaf reaches 3 to 4 inches.  Use a scissor or knife and cut straight across the bottom about an inch to two inches from the plant’s base.  The inner leaves will keep growing.

You can also harvest the outer leaves of young, tender spinach and Swiss chard leaves this way. Use a scissor or sharp knife. Don’t break it off, cut it.

To keep them fresh at home,  put the greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Do my tomato plants need cages?

Yes. The plants look small now but will grow quickly. Putting the cages on now is easier on you (you won’t break any branches) and the plant.

You can also trellis some of the smaller varieties of squash, cucumbers, and beans to save space and promote healthy growth. Some squash grow into large sprawling plants. Plan ahead by reading the label and give your plants enough space in your plot.

How often do I water?

The rule of thumb is plants need an inch or two of water each week and will grow best with deep, infrequent waterings rather than more frequent shallow waterings. A good soak encourages deeper and stronger root growth.

NOTE: Newly planted vegetables and seeds need more frequent waterings to become established.

In our gardens, the soil is sandy, which drains quickly. This is why we added compost and turned it into the soil. The compost holds the moisture and helps our plants grow stronger and healthier.

Here’s how you can tell if you need to water.  Use your finger and feel for the moisture in the soil about an inch or two deep.  If it is dry, water. If not, wait another day.

The best time to water is morning, but late afternoon is fine as long as you keep the foliage from getting wet. Wet foliage can lead to fungal issues later in the season. Get in the practice of watering low to the ground and your plants will thank you with an abundant harvest.

If you are using a blue stake, be sure to pull it out when you are back from holiday.

See you in the gardens, Natalie

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