Before you buy seeds, plants or fertilizer, start your garden off right by answering these questions.
Have you taken a soil sample to determine if soil fertility and acidity/alkalinity will meet plants' nutrient requirements?
Soil test results will let you know how much fertilizer is required to provide plants with needed nutrients, while preventing excessive use that contributes to groundwater, stream and lake pollution. Plants that are stressed or weak from insufficient nutrients or a pH that's too low or too high are more susceptible to disease and can't readily tolerate insect damage. To give your plants a healthy start, soil test and apply the fertilizer and other amendments according to the recommendations.
Do you plant your garden crops in the same spot year after year?
Crop rotation can help prevent insect and disease build-ups. For example, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers are subject to the same insect and disease problems. Therefore, none of these crops should be planted in the same location more than every three consecutive years. After three years, switch to a different crop like beans or corn. If you have limited garden space, plant some vegetable plants in containers such as large pots or half whisky barrels as a form of crop rotation.
Make a diagram of your garden each year to avoid planting the same or closely related crops in exactly the same spot too frequently.
How do you select a vegetable plant variety?
Whether you are planting corn or tomatoes, check to see that the variety you are planting has some disease resistance or tolerance. For example, select tomato varieties labeled "VFN," as they're resistant to Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium and root-knot nematodes. Whereas, a tomato variety leveled "V" is only resistant to Verticillium Wilt.
Do you buy the
When it comes to transplants, the best buys are the healthy ones. A healthy transplant was seeded at the right time, grown at the proper temperature and received adequate light and moisture. It will have a compact growth structure with very small distances between leaves. The leaves will be dark green, large and upright with no tendency to droop. Stems will be pencil thick and rigid.
Avoid transplants that are beginning to produce flowers or fruit. It might seem that buying a plant with blooms or fruit will give you a head start in the garden. However, plants trying to produce fruit or flowers are slow to develop the good root systems needed to support later fruit production. Never buy plants that have insects present or are showing disease symptoms.
Do you plan to use mulch in your garden?
Mulch helps prevent weeds that will decrease your garden's production by competing with the vegetable plants for water, nutrients and sunlight. In addition, some weeds harbor diseases and insects that attack vegetable plants. Mulch also helps conserve soil moisture.
Several types of commercial mulch are available, or you can use newspapers for the mulch. Start with five to eight layers, adding more layers as the newspapers decompose to prevent weed growth throughout the growing season. Be sure to use only newspapers printed with soy-based ink and avoid using the glossy inserts.
If you have other gardening questions visit www.gardendata.org or contact the Jessamine County Cooperative Extension Service.
For more information, request our publication, "Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky" (ID-128). It is available from the Jessamine County Extension Service office, or from the UK Web site at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.htm.
meet labor laws
Finding farm labor is a continual issue for producers across the state. Also, an issue is the paperwork and regulations that go with hiring workers.