Vegetable Gardening A-Z, Part II

Carrots
Plant carrots in a loose soil that has had any rocks and clumps removed. If you have a heavy, compacted soil, you can still grow carrots by making a raised bed. Raise up about 6 inches of soil to form a row, and scatter the carrot seeds over the top. Carrots should be planted about 2 inches apart. Give then a fertilizer rich in P and low in N to keep them sweet. Water regularly just enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely as this can cause the carrots to split. Ideal pH 5.5 - 6.5.

Corn
Corn needs lots of garden space. Each stalk will produce only 1 or 2 ears, so you will need many stalks. Plant corn in rows and you will need a minimum of 4 rows of 4 stalks each. Corn needs rich, warm soil. Only sow corn after all danger of frost is past, and the soil temperature must be at least 60 degrees F. Before sowing, add compost or manure to the soil and water it. Do not water right after sowing, since this will encourage rot of the seeds. After the plants are 1 to 2 feet tall, sprinkle a high N fertilizer around the base of each plant. Harvest in about 21 days, when the silks emerge and are dried to dark brown. Ideal pH 6.0 - 7.0.

Cucumbers
Cucumbers are hard to transplant. Buy them in peat pots that can be directly placed in the ground. Or sow them in peat pots about 2 weeks before the last frost. Set outside in the garden after they have about 3 leaves and all danger of frost is gone. Cucumbers can be trellised like tomatoes to save space and train vines upward. Ideal pH 6.0 - 8.0.

Eggplant
Eggplant seedlings are tender and like very warm conditions. Buy established plants that have been raised in a greenhouse. Then put in the warmest, sunniest spot of your garden. Do not let the soil get soggy. Ideal pH 6.0 - 7.0.

Greens
For maximum production of green leaves and stems, you need a rich soil. Before planting, add compost or manure to the soil. Add about 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 50 square feet. Fertilize again midseason. Ideal pH 6.0 - 8.0.

Lettuce
Plant lettuce where it will have plenty of afternoon shade. Lettuce prefers mild temperatures, and the ideal is about 65 degrees F. Water regularly so that the soil does not dry out. Ideal pH 6.0 - 7.0.

Melons
Sow in the garden only when the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees F. You should have a loose, well-drained soil. Melons like lots of sun, so give them a warm, sunny spot in the garden. Mulching with about 1 inch of straw helps control weeds and keeps the soil warm. Water melons once a week. Ideal pH 6.0 - 7.0.

Okra
Okra is a Southern delicacy that likes it hot! Seeds must be sown in warm soil, at least 70 to 75 degrees F. Okra benefits from regular watering. Give at least 1 inch of water weekly and mulch to conserve moisture. In the hot days of mid-summer, okra may need daily watering. Fertilize with a high potassium (K) fertilizer. Harvest the pods when they are about 1 inch long. Okra will produce many pods throughout the summer if harvested regularly. Japanese beetles love okra. Pinch them off daily and treat with an appropriate pesticide. Ideal pH 5.5 - 6.0.

Continued In: Vegetable Gardening A-Z, Part III

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