best on a hot summer day than a homegrown salad? That cool, refreshing
salad can start with just a quick trip to the garden. But that
garden won't appear by magic. You need to get started now
if you want lettuce
before Labor Day!
several factors that make up a good garden, so try this mnemonic
to remember the basic steps: the word GARDEN
-- each letter stands for a different step.
is for Ground. For new gardens, choose an area
with six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Make sure it's
near the hose or sprinkler for easy watering, yet has good drainage
-- most plants can't stand soggy roots. And keep the garden
away from trees and shrubs so your plants don't have to compete
for resources or get over-powered by shade. Prepare the ground
by tilling and having a soil test done.
is for Arrange. Arrange the garden layout
before you plant. John Deere recommends planting
in rows that run north to south, with taller plants in the north
end, so that all plants get maximum sunlight.
is for Research. Learn
what grows well in your area from your neighbors or local nursery.
Find out the frost-free
date, and determine a planting and fertilizing schedule. Some
cold-blooded veggies, like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage
and spinach, survive better in the cool spring when soil temperatures
are below 65 degrees F. If you want to be safe, plant everything
once temperatures pass 65 degrees F. Peas and onions like moderate
temperatures around 75 degrees F.
do well in the 80 degrees F to 85 degrees F range. And corn,
melons and squash like the hot weather: 85 degrees F to 95 degrees
F. Make sure late vegetables are planted before fall's first-freeze
is for Dig. Create holes four times the seed's
diameter, so bigger seeds are planted a little deeper. Use a rake
handle to make a trench for small seeds and the corner of a hoe
blade to make a ditch for larger seeds. Cover the seeds, and firm
the soil before you water. Using the flat blade of a hoe, tamp
down the earth to help the seeds make contact with the soil; this
prevents your seeds from washing away in heavy rains.
is for Encourage. Water and keep weed-free
-- vegetables need 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water a week. To fight
weeds, use sheets of newspaper or plastic to cover the soil. Anchor
the sheets with rocks or bricks, and then cut Xs in
the sheets to create openings for transplants. Or try covering
your garden with a thick layer of dried grass clippings from your
lawn. A few weeds will still sprout, but they'll be thin
and weak and very easy to pull.
is for Nurture. Monitor growth and enjoy the veggies
of your labor.
So kick back,
cool your heels, and enjoy your crisp summer salad right from
your own backyard.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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