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10 Insider Tips for Growing Edibles

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10 Insider Tips for Growing Edibles

Growing edibles is one of the most exciting garden adventures, and we're thrilled that you're ready to give it a go! I mean, what's better than indulging in fresh ingredients sourced right from your own garden?! We've got nothing! Now, before you start dreaming up future recipes for your fresh ingredients, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Flowers aren't the only ones who like a little mulch - vegetable gardens benefit from it too! One to three inches of finely shredded, untreated wood mulch works wonders to prevent weeds and keep the soil moist, which means less frequent watering for you. Plus, as the mulch starts to break down, it releases yummy nutrients for your plants.

  2. While there's definitely a need for rototilling, digging, and hoeing at times, be mindful not to disrupt the soil unnecessarily. As you move the soil around, it can expose weeds and give them the light and water they need to grow.

  3. Plan your path carefully so you can "walk the walk" without disturbing your growing plants. As you roam over patches of dirt, the soil becomes more compact, making it harder for water to penetrate and for roots to wiggle around and find nutrients. Designing clear paths ensures you'll protect the quality of the soil throughout the entire garden. 

  4. If you're transplanting tomatoes into the garden from pots, take care to bury the stems halfway down to encourage healthy root growth. Not only will doing so help protect your young plants from the cold, but it also promotes better fruit production and makes them less likely to topple over. 

  5. While tomatoes taste incredible alongside corn and potatoes, they don't play well in the garden. Avoid letting your plants spread diseases to each other by providing some space between tomatoes, corn, and potatoes. 

  6. Mint is an exceptional grower and a delicious herb known to keep mosquitos at bay and provide food for bees. However, it's essential to keep these plants under control as they're known to spread like crazy. Grow your mint in pots, and when the stems reach about 9" tall, harvest up to 3" to support more vegetative growth and keep seeds from forming. 

  7. When harvest season rolls around (hooray!), be mindful to pick ripe peppers, tomatoes, squash, green beans, and eggplants every day. Once a plant yields fruits with mature seeds, it slows down production. Essentially, if you want an abundance of fresh ingredients at your disposal, pick to your heart's content!

  8. Strawberries may possess a deep and complex flavor profile, but they actually form pretty shallow root systems. Therefore, it's essential that you not plant them too far under. For the best results, place the crown of the plant slightly above the soil's surface and dig a hole wide enough to fan the roots out gently. 

  9. If you're planning to grow berries, well, first off - yay! Second, it would be wise to test the pH levels of your soil before planting. While strawberries and raspberries prefer levels between 5.8 and 6.2, blackberries fancy a range of 5.5 and 7.0, and blueberries like a pH of 4.0 to 5.3. If you need to reduce the pH level of your soil, sulfur works a charm, and to increase, call on lime!

  10. Growing multiple types of peppers is a fun way to test your taste buds, but it's wise to give some space between spicy and mild varieties. When planted too close, the different peppers can dilute each other's flavors during pollination. 

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  • Katie Elzer-Peters