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It is easy to let your winter gardening plans over load your summer gardening abilities. When you are considering raising a flock of chickens for fresh eggs or a few rabbits for fresh meat. Don’t Forget they are an everyday commitment. They require feeding and watering ‘Everyday’ sun, rain or snow storm. They don’t care if you have plans to go to the lake for the weekend, they still require you to tend to them ‘Everyday’. If your considering getting a milk goat or two, then you have committed yourself to being present every morning and every evening to milk them. Not one time a day but two times a day, 7 days a week, and at about the same time two times a day!! If your not 100 percent committed to this project Don’t Buy Poultry or Livestock! Other wise you will soon tire of your feeding and watering chores and start neglecting your birds and animals.
A properly managed garden requires a great deal of your time and effort. Soil preparation begins as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. The amount of time and effort expended is dependent on garden size and whether you will be using hand tools, garden fork, shovel and rake to till the soil or if you have power tools such as rotor-tillers or a garden tractor.
Have a plan. First decide what you ‘really’ want to grow. *Hint: Grow what you like to eat! Don’t plant a long row of cabbage if you only eat one head of cabbage every three months! My summer garden plan is a simple one. I plant what I like to eat fresh from my garden, keeping my time in the kitchen cooking to a minimum.
Cucumbers, bush goose neck squash, bush tomato’s, peppers both hot and mild sweet bell pepper. I plant a few radishes, white, red and yellow onions and beets. Garlic was planted back in late October last fall.
No zucchini, lettuce or other cool weather vegetables. Most cool weather vegetables do not do well here in our hot dry windy spring and summers.
Crop planting. Do Not, I say again do not crowd your plants. Your big, empty garden can become over grown and untenable in a short time if you over plant and crowd your plants. Lets start small and work up from there. First if you buy seed, follow planting dated, spacing and depth instruction on the package. Remember the 2-3-4 rule. Width of 2 fingers is about 1 – 1 1/4 inches, 3 fingers cover about 2 inches and 4 fingers will give you about 3 inches. This is an easy way to properly space seeds when planting. Small seeds are difficult to plant one at a time but it is worth the effort to do so.
Larger plants like pepper need a minimum of 18 inches between plants, bush tomato’s require 24-36 inches minimum and vine tomato’s require as much as 4 to 6 feet between plants even when staked or caged to allow easy access for harvesting and to allow for good air circulation. Cucumbers allowed to vine on the ground can take up as much as 6-8 feet of garden space for each vine. I think a better way to manage cucumbers is to grow them on a 5-6 foot or taller trellis. I purchased two 52 inch tall stock panels and use three T-post to support them. At end of season you can easily disassemble them and they require little space for winter storage.
Melon’s can easily take up to 8-10 or more feet of space. The real question is how large is your garden and is it really worth giving up that much garden space for a few melon’s?
Nice people are not good gardeners! You must be unforgiving. Diseased and non-producing plants should be ripped out! Replant with something that requires a shorter growing season. By June 15th you should be thinking about what plants need to be pulled up and developing your fall garden plans. Removal of used up plants is a good thing. It helps control the number of damaging garden insects and helps control spreading disease to healthy plants. Depending on your planting zone, you may need to start planting you fall garden July 1st.
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