7 steps that will en­sure suc­cess this sum­mer |

Best Health - - YOU - by TARA NOLAN

DO READ THE PLANT TAGS AND SEED PACK­ETS AND KEEP THEM

They share vi­tal in­for­ma­tion, such as how deep to plant seeds and seedlings, how far apart to space plants, whether plants can tol­er­ate a bit of shade and when the fruit will ma­ture.

DON’T OVER­WA­TER OR UN­DER­WA­TER YOUR PLANTS

Plants get thirsty, so if you’re go­ing away, leave some­one in charge of wa­ter­ing ev­ery day. Wa­ter­ing in the morn­ing is best be­cause gar­dens may not dry as quickly in the evening, leav­ing plants vul­ner­a­ble to mould and mildew. There are some great ir­ri­ga­tion KIKKERLAND VIN­TAGE WA­TER­ING CAN, KIKKERLAND.COM sys­tems on the mar­ket, as well as smaller ver­sions for pots. A heavy rain­storm will save you a day or two of hav­ing to wa­ter. Place your fin­ger in the soil; if it feels damp or wet, don’t wa­ter. Aim your hose at the roots, not the whole gar­den. Back­splash can trans­fer disease from the soil to the leaves and you won’t waste wa­ter – it will go where it’s needed.

DO GIVE HERBS A REG­U­LAR TRIM

Even if you’re not go­ing to eat them, snip­ping back herbs pre­vents them from flow­er­ing and helps them last longer. For ex­am­ple, once basil has bloomed, the leaves turn bit­ter, while oth­ers, like dill and cilantro, stop pro­duc­ing the ed­i­ble fo­liage you en­joy on fish and in sum­mer wraps.

DON’T PLANT VO­RA­CIOUS SPREAD­ERS IN THE GROUND

If you love plants like mint and camomile, give them their own pots. If you plant them in the ground, you’ll be pulling out seedlings for­ever, as they love to spread. Also, clean up un­eaten ed­i­bles, like a rot­ten tomato or a tomatillo that didn’t ma­ture be­fore the first frost. Once they de­com­pose, their seeds will wait over the win­ter and you’ll dis­cover seedlings in the spring.

DO PRO­TECT YOUR PRE­CIOUS HAR­VEST

Ma­raud­ing squir­rels by day and hun­gry rac­coons by night (not to men­tion bun­nies, ground­hogs, birds and what­ever hap­pens to live in your area) like to help them­selves to a lush gar­den. A chick­en­wire cage is one ex­treme that will keep them out ef­fi­ciently, but you can also ex­per­i­ment with net­ting and row cover.

There’s noth­ing worse than pulling up root veg­gies, such as beets, radishes and car­rots, only to dis­cover that some­thing else has beaten you to that first bite! If voles are a prob­lem, line the bot­tom of a raised bed with hard­ware cloth (it’s like chicken wire but with a tighter weave) to pre­vent them from dig­ging up from be­low.

DON’T LET YOUR HAR­VEST GO TO WASTE

If you have ex­tras, do­nate them to a lo­cal food bank, foist them on your veg­gieeat­ing neigh­bours or pre­serve them to en­joy through­out the win­ter months (see page 41 for the how-to). If you’re not into can­ning, don’t for­get that some ed­i­bles can be eas­ily frozen and dried.

DO PER­SE­VERE

The big­gest piece of gar­den­ing ad­vice? Some­times, de­spite our best ef­forts and in­ten­tions, a plant may not thrive, taste good or pro­duce fruit. Don’t take this as an in­di­ca­tion that you have a “black thumb.” There could be a va­ri­ety of fac­tors at work, in­clud­ing ex­treme heat, poor soil com­po­si­tion, pests and wa­ter­ing is­sues. Learn from your mis­takes and each year you’ll be able to ap­ply that knowl­edge to­ward cre­at­ing an even more suc­cess­ful gar­den. b

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