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Cass County Extension

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Vegetable Culture


1.  Sources of Information
      - Extension Bulletins
      - Gardening Books (usually not written for our area)
      - Seed Catalogs (nice pictures but be wary of claims made)

2.  Selecting a Site

      - Full sun
         a. Most vegetables require full sun
         b. Leafy vegetables will do the best in partial shade
      - Loose, fertile, well drained soil
         a. Sandy loam soil is preferred
      - Close to home
      - Near a water supply
      - Stay away from roots and shade of trees and shrubs

3. Site Preparation

      - New Site
         a. Remove sod or kill grass with a herbicide
         b. Control weeds especially perennials (quackgrass & thistles)

      - Soil Preparation
         a. Add organic matter, well rotted manure or compost (no sand)
            - 4 bushels of compost per 100 sq. ft. of garden area
         b. Raised beds
            - earlier warm up in the spring and quicker to dry out
         c. Container gardening can be used if space is unavailable
         d. Test soil if desired
            - Normal fertilizer recommendation without testing
                 2 lbs. 5-10-5 per 100 sq. ft. of garden area
                 5 lbs. well rotted manure per 100 sq. ft.
                 Don't add lime
                 Don't use a "Weed & Feed" fertilizer in the garden
         e. Roto-til or spade to the depth of 4-6"
         f. Working wet, clay soil will give you brick-hard chunks

4. Planning the garden

      - Draw a plan of the garden
a. Lay out rows lengthwise in garden to make roto-tilling easier
         b. Wide row beds work good with certain crops (carrots, beets, etc)
         c. Plant all perennials in a corner or on an end
         d. Put vine crops on the edge or next to corn
         e. Plant Sweet Corn in a block rather than long rows
          f. Put the tall growing vegies on the north side (prevents shading)
         g. Save space for planting warm season crops
         h. Avoid planting a vegetable in the same spot as last year
          i. Interplant when possible (carrots & radishes, radishes & tomatoes)
          j. Successive plantings of short season crops
         k. Companion planting

      - Purchasing seeds
         a. Selecting the right variety
         b. Bargain priced seeds
         c. Seeds kept from previous years

5. Planting The Garden

      - When? Not until soil is dry enough to work without clumping up

      - Times for planting vegetables
         a. Hardy vegetables (tolerate freezing temperatures) - April 20th
         b. Half Hardy vegetables (tolerate light frost) - May 10th
         c. Tender vegetables (past danger of last killing frost) - May 25

      - Planting techniques
         a. Seed bed preparation
         b. Keep map of varieties planted
         c. Planting
            -Depth of planting (on heavy, clay soil; plant shallow)
            -Small seeds vs. larger seeds
            -Treated seed

      - Transplants
         a. Soil Mixes
         b. When to start?
         c. Artificial light vs. natural light

      - Transplanting into the garden
         a. Hardening off plants
         b. Best in late afternoon, or on cloudy days with little wind
         c. Disturb roots as little as possible
         d. Don't cover plant leaves; remove flowers and fruits
         e. Starter Fertilizer
          f. Insect protection

      - Using clear plastic mulch
         a. Advantages
         b. Putting down plastic
         c. Planting transplants (muskmelons & watermelons)

6. Thinning and Weeding

      - Thinning best done when weeding first time
         a. Crowded plants vs. thinned plants

      - Weeding the garden
         a. Remove weeds when small
         b. Weed in the heat of the day (pick up & dispose of purslane)
         c. Don't water on the same day as you weed
         d. Deep hoeing can damage plant roots
         e. Organic mulches can be used for weed control (slugs love mulch)
          f. Don't use herbicides in the home garden

7. Watering

      - Important after planting & when flowers and fruits are forming
      - Need 1-2" per week during dry periods (65-130 gal. per 100 sq. ft.)
      - Soil should be wetted to a depth of 6-12" each time you water
      - Drip Irrigation and Soakers vs. Overhead Sprinklers
         a. Save water
         b. Less water on the leaves; reduces chances of a foliar disease
         c. Foliage should never remain wet overnight

8. Organic Mulches
      - 2-4" layer should be adequate
      - Conserves soil moisture, keep soil cooler, and reduce water needs
      - Blocks sun from germinating weed seeds
      - Helps reduce soil compaction
      - Includes: chopped leaves, peat moss, grass clippings, wood chips, compost

9. Pests

      - Many insects are beneficial
      - Identify the pest before attempting control
      - Rabbits
         a. Exclusion (fencing etc)
         b. Repellents ( dried blood, moth balls, mixture of red pepper, glue & water)


Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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