Se­crets to or­ganic gar­den­ing suc­cess

The Standard Journal - - Entertainment - Comics - By RICKY ENS­LEY,

If you pre­fer to use few or no pes­ti­cides in your gar­den, you can still grow boun­ti­ful crops. The se­cret to or­ganic gar­den­ing is to fol­low good gar­den­ing prac­tices as closely as pos­si­ble. Here are a few ideas:

Crop Ro­ta­tion Avoid plant­ing the same crop in the same place year af­ter year. Ro­tat­ing crops helps keep soil nu­tri­ents from be­ing de­pleted. For ex­am­ple, legumes add ni­tro­gen to the soil, and toma­toes take ni­tro­gen away. Con­tin­u­ous crop plant­ing in one area tends to pre­vent the buildup of dis­eases and in­sect pests.

Heat Up Your Soil Loosen the soil with a ro­totiller or a turn­ing fork. Af­ter tilling, cover the area with black plas­tic.

Seal the edges with stones or soil to keep in heat and mois­ture. The heat that builds up be­neath the plas­tic will kill weeds, most gar­den pests and their en­e­mies, and other nasty or­gan­isms.

Leave the plas­tic in place for sev­eral weeks – the longer the bet­ter. If you can’t spare the en­tire gar­den, split it and treat half at a time. This is called soil ster­il­iza­tion. Keep Gar­dens

Weed-Free Weeds com­pete with your plants for wa­ter, nu­tri­ents and light. They’re a fa­vorite hid­ing place too, for in­sects and dis­ease. Weed­ing reg­u­larly rather than all at a time makes the job more man­age­able. Don’t throw weeds on the com­post pile though, as you might re­plant the seeds when you use the com­post.

Space Plants Prop­erly Plants need air circulation to breathe and stay healthy. Proper spac­ing al­lows bet­ter circulation and more rapid dry­ing af­ter rains. Re­move any­thing that re­stricts air­flow. Prune to re­move dead or dis­eased shoots, too.

Don’t Rush Gar­den Never work it when the soil is too wet. If you pick up a hand­ful of soil, form a ball and drop it to the ground, and it doesn’t break apart, the soil is too wet. Choose Right Va­ri­eties Go for the ones that are adapted to grow­ing con­di­tions in your area. Con­tact your lo­cal county ex­ten­sion of­fice for in­for­ma­tion about plants suited for your area.

Get the Right Seeds and Plants Buy the ones that are dis­ease and pest re­sis­tant. In seed cat­a­logs, on seed pack­ets and seedling plant tags, look for the letters V (ver­ti­cil­lium), F (fusar­ium), N (ne­ma­todes) and (tobacco mo­saic virus). These letters tell what the cul­ti­vars are re­sis­tant to. Wa­ter from the Bot­tom If pos­si­ble, soak the roots rather than ap­ply wa­ter over­head. Damp leaves are the per­fect breed­ing ground for fungi. If over­head wa­ter­ing is your only op­tion, do it in the early morn­ing so the sun’s rays will dry plant leaves faster.

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