Frequently Asked Questions about Your Vegetable Garden
Should I put grass clippings in the garden?
Can the bigger leaves be cut from a growing cabbage plant?
What color are potatoes?
What should the depth of a raised bed be to grow corn, potatoes and beans?
What vegetables can I grow in the shade?
What’s the best way to control weeds?
How often should a vegetable garden be watered?
How long does it take to grow a watermelon?
How do I grow jicama?
Are dry northern beans susceptible to pest infestation?
How do I stop birds and insects from eating my broccoli?
Q: Why do leaves curl on tomato plants?
A: Tomato leaf curl can be caused by a variety of things, bugs are only one. If you don’t see bugs on the underside of the leaves, it’ll either be normal for the leaves to curl or you have a fungus problem. Tomato leaves will curl if growing conditions are not optimum. If it’s too hot and dry, water more. If it’s too wet, water less. You can tell if it’s a fungal problem by looking at the entire plant, especially the leaves. If the leaves are lighter in color than they should be for your variety of tomato, you probably have a viral or fungal infection. The same holds true if you have spotting on the leaves. Cut off a small branch and take it to your local nursery to see what they recommend for your area of the country.
Q: Should I put grass clippings in the garden?
A: It’s better to compost first because: 1) they can form a water-repellent mat and cause water stress; 2) there may be seeds or weeds in the clippings, and; 3) some types of grasses are invasive and will quickly take over your garden. Also, there’s a risk of soil imbalances occurring if the clippings are fresh. All of these problems are neutralized by the composting process.
Q: Can the bigger leaves be cut from a growing cabbage plant?
A: Yes. All leafy vegetables such as turnip greens, lettuce, kale, collard greens, and cabbage should have the larger outside leaves removed as the plant grows. This allows the inner leaves to grow. Keep cutting the plants until frost kills it or it goes to seed (blooms). You can save the seeds for next years crop.
Q: What color are potatoes?
A: Potatoes are available in several colors/varieties. Brown-skinned potatoes, followed by red, are the most common colors but they can also be found in purple, yellow, dark blue and black. There are also varieties with yellow or pink flesh.
Q: What should the depth of a raised bed be to grow corn, potatoes and beans?
A: For things such as corn you don’t really need a lot of depth. Two inches or so should suffice, no deeper than three inches.
Q: What vegetables can I grow in the shade?
A: Most vegetable won’t grow well in completely shaded areas, but there are a couple that will tolerate more than most. Lettuce and peas in the summer months, will do well in partial shade.
Q: What’s the best way to control weeds?
A: Prepare the bed by making sure there are no weeds before planting. Mulch around the plants with a 3-inch layer of straw. You will still need to weed every now and then.
Q: How often should a vegetable garden be watered?
A: Most plants require an inch to an inch and a half of water per week. But variables such as wind speeds, humidity, rainfall, air temperatures and the consistency of your soil can cause this to vary. When the soil feels dry an inch or two into the ground it’s time to water. A deep watering is more beneficial than a shallow or short watering period. When trying to germinate seeds, many short waterings are more beneficial. You would then switch to longer, more infrequent waterings to encourage root growth and strength.
Q: How long does it take to grow a watermelon?
A: It takes around 120 days but depends on where you live. You can plant your watermelon in the garden or in a small circular soil-covered clearing among the bushes. But first, start your seeds at home. Plant your seeds in a little pot the size of your palm. Keep your watermelon seeds sprouting in your pot for one month. Then take your pot to the garden and replant the seed. Care for your plant everyday. Check on the plant daily and water carefully. Don’t drown it! After three more months watermelons should begin to grow.
Q: How do I grow jicama?
A: Jicama is a vine-like plant in the legume (bean) family. The edible portion of a jicama plant is its root. You can purchase seeds through a variety of seed catalogs and begin them in a protected area in a mixture containing planting soil and a little peat moss. Cover the seeds with about a ¼ inch of the potting mixture. Water and keep the plant moist until it is about three inches tall. At this point you can plant the young plants 8 – 10 inches apart in your garden. Fertilize with a healthy dose of compost mixture and remove flowers when they first appear as it promotes the root to grow in diameter.
Q: Are dry northern beans susceptible to pest infestation?
A: Like soybeans, in the beginning stages, dry beans are susceptible to bean leaf beetles, other leaf feeders and cutworm. As the plant grows, white flies may infest the crop. As pods begin to form, insects such as stinkbugs can damage the pods. There are numerous pesticides and organic treatments designed specifically for dry beans.
Q: How do I stop birds and insects from eating my broccoli?
A: To stop birds from eating vegetables, cover with some sort of netting. As for the insects, you would need to use a safe insecticide designed to stop the insects or kill them. Be sure to follow the insecticide guidelines, and use one recommended for fruit or vegetables and human consumption.