Early-season maintenance

The video series edition

As promised, I present to you several videos on what’s going on in your garden. The spring and early-summer provide us with around six great weeks of planting dates for a successful vegetable garden. This means that many of your gardens will not look exactly like mine, but I hope this window into my backyard can clarify what I tell you in the newsletters.

Before we get started, tonight promises to be rather cold. While there is no frost warning for Montreal, your plants will appreciate to be covered with your floating row cover, or a light sheet for the night. This will give your plants an extra 3 – 4 degrees of warmth.

[With sound! Sorry about that last one…] When harvesting leafy greens, you have two options. Cut-and-come-again involves cutting the entire head around 1 inch above the soil, and waiting for the lettuce to grow again (about 3 weeks). I prefer to bring my salad bowl into the garden and remove a few large outer leaves from each plant. With the different varieties in your garden, plus some kale, swiss chard, roquette and eventually beet greens, you can have a beautiful mixed green salad every night! Simply add some olive oil, your favourite vinegar, some salt and pepper and enjoy.

Each plant in your garden needs enough space to reach maturity. This means you need to weed early and often, and also remove any extra seedlings that come up when planting from seed. Choose the strongest seedling in each grouping, and snip off the rest with your nails or scissors. This is a very important step! None of the plants will grow well if they stay too close together. Each beet needs 3″ and each carrot 2″.

Organic pest control for leaf miners. Your Swiss chard may look like it has some kind of disease, or burns. This is damage from the larva of a small fly called a leaf miner. To save your Swiss chard, you need to remove and destroy all the affected leaves and wipe the eggs off of all the healthy leaves.  Damaged leaves have larvae inside them, so it is important to throw them in the garbage and not on the compost pile. The earlier you take action, the easier it is to rid your garden of this pest. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the plants and soil around the chard plants to prevent further infestation, but it needs to be reapplied after rain.

It is important to remove the suckers from your tomato plants while they are still small, so that the extra branches don’t take over your garden. You can find the sucker in the crotch between the main stem of your tomato and the leaf. This little branchlet will grow into a full vine and take energy away from growing tomatoes. You can let one or two suckers grow, but anything that you can’t fit onto the trellis needs to be removed.

If you received a spring planting, your tomato plants will be sharing with peas. While your tomato plants are small and upright, let them grow without support from the trellis. In about a month’s time, you will remove the pea plants from the trellis, and start to attach the tomatoes to the trellis in their place. The wacky weather so far this year has been very challenging on the timing of the vegetables, so I look forward how the pea/tomato timing will work out this year.

I am trying out something new this year – a Potato Tower in a Smart Pot Compost Sak. You can see my progress so far in the picture at the top of this newsletter. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!