Master gardeners have plenty to teach
By Katie Shipka
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
Before you begin your garden, perhaps I can save you some frustration so you can grow the best crops possible.
During my master gardener volunteer classes, I realized how much I didn’t know, even after years of gardening from childhood.
I hope to help you follow some of the best practices I have learned throughout my training.
It is essential to have your soil tested before beginning to carry out all the plans you have made throughout the winter.
Directions for gathering your soil can be found by calling the Ohio State University Extension office or go to go.osu.edu/soiltesting. We only need 1-2 cups of dried soil, placed in a plastic baggie. The cost is $20 and results will be sent to you in about two weeks (sometimes sooner).
The amendments you make to your soil will help your plants reach their fullest potential.
Vegetables need full sun daily. Proper drainage is important so the plant is neither too wet nor too dry.
Weeds need to be controlled – I have found that the old-fashioned method of digging and pulling gently to get the full root is the safest way.
As tempting as it is, using an herbicide cannot only kill weeds, but can reach the desired plant’s roots, and kill or stunt their growth and can remain in the soil for months.
Composting will enhance the soil and it’s a free way to keep the soil healthy.
Purchase your plants from a garden center or a reliable catalog as these plants have been raised under the best conditions. Select plants that are tolerant or resistant to diseases.
After amending the soil, a rototiller works well to break down and mix the soil – but it’s not necessary.
Using newspaper around each plant just under the soil helps to retain moisture and retards the growth of weeds.
Space your plants, reading the information on each plant you purchase.
Trimming the bottom leaves also helps the air circulate, especially for tomato plants, and it decreases the rain splashing on the leaves from soil that could be infected with fungal diseases.
Mulching prevents this splashing, keeping your plants moist and healthy.
Watering from a garden hose is not the most efficient way to keep your plants healthy. A soaker hose placed strategically around the plants will give a thorough, deep drink to the roots so they reach deeply in the soil. Another advantage is that it saves time, water, your effort and money.
Depending on your watering method, one hour use of the soaker hose weekly is sufficient for the plants to gain moisture using less water. Use a tuna can to measure 1 inch of water per week.
These are just a few tips I have learned from my master gardener friends, and I’m always learning something new.
Why not take the classes and find out just how much you can learn from the other master gardeners? We’re always ready to help you.
To find all of the details you need for your veggie garden (all in one spot), go to http://go.osu.edu/veggiegarden.