Protect your investment

Burpee - Edible Gardening Team Members
Friday, May 7, 2010

You’ve spent oodles of time and energy planting your vegetables and herbs, so how do you keep pests and the elements from destroying your hard work? It doesn’t have to be a full-time job protecting your investment. Here’s a few things to consider …

Start Early
Once your growing zone’s frost-free date has arrived, it’s safe to plant most vegetables. Get started early clearing out your garden space and working your soil – the sooner you get plants established, the stronger and more resistant they’ll be. Add potting soil to beef up your garden bed and get it healthy for plants. Compost, too, can be added throughout the season for continued feeding.

Clean It Up
Slugs, snails, aphids and other creepy crawlies love to hide in grass and leaves. They’ll eat your vegetables if you don’t watch out! Use a weed barrier when planting to help keep your vegetable garden clear of weeds, and this should make weeding by hand a snap. Do not use any type of spray weed killer near your vegetables and herbs, as it could kill the plants you want to keep as well as those you don’t. Planting helpful flowers is also an option. Some gardeners choose Marigolds as borders for their vegetable gardens to repel insects and deter small invaders. They can also attract “good bugs” who patrol your grounds and keep the bad ones at bay.

Tomato Tips
Mulching and staking can keep your tomato plants thriving and producing. A 1 in. layer of hardwood mulch around your tomato plants serves many purposes: From water retention to insect prevention to eliminating weeds. Staking or caging growing plants keeps damage to a minimum and supports the plant as it gets heavy with fruit. An upright tomato plant also increases airflow and reduces disease.

Rabbits & Birds
Galvanized wire fencing (available at your local hardware store) can be used to enclose your vegetable garden, keeping away smaller rabbits and larger deer. No deer? Then a 3 ft. tall fence is sufficient, otherwise raise it to 5 ft. to keep Bambi out! For bird trouble, scarecrows do work! Choose brightly colored clothing and get it up on a long stake or pole. Mount it securely in or near your garden. You can also move it every couple days to keep the birds guessing.

What other types of tricks and tips can you share? Comments welcome below.

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