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Growing a successful home vegetable garden

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Home vegetable gardening is one of the most popular hobbies listed and in this day and time can help families out with their rising food bills.

There is still some time left to start a garden with certain crops and others you may need to wait until August to start some of the fall gardens.

Please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for advice on which crops to plant and when would be the best time to plant them. For now, many gardeners are beginning to reap the benefits of their labor. Here are some tips on harvesting your vegetables:

1) Harvest is starting on cucumbers and squash. Keep them picked on a regular basis for best quality and highest production.

2) Keep tomato plants uniformly moist in the garden. Drying-out stress, along with the overuse of high nitrogen fertilizers, can contribute to the calcium deficiency called blossom-end rot. An application of liquid calcium spray is a temporary fix for this problem.

3) Plant some late tomatoes in the garden now for a good fall harvest of America’s favorite garden vegetable. Even though heirlooms are in fashion, always plant some modern disease-resistant varieties in case heirlooms succumb to one of the many tomato diseases.

4) Keep a watchful eye on pepper plants for disease problems. Remember they are susceptible to many of the same diseases that affect tomatoes, such as early and late blight and blossom-end rot.

With current energy costs, you might be looking for a place to get out of the house without traveling a long distance. Check out your local farmers market.

Mulch, Thin And Prune

Mulch flowerbeds and vegetable gardens now to save on watering chores later. Mulch around vegetable plants can serve the same purposes of weed control and moisture retention as it does on flowers and shrubs. It can also reduce the incidence of some soil-borne diseases and keep roots cool during very hot weather.

Choose the mulch you think enhances the beauty of your garden. Leaf mold works well in the vegetable garden and can be worked into the soil to nourish the next crop.

Find more information on mulch at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-608.html.

Give plants room to grow. Pull or transplant excess seedlings of marigold, cosmos, zinnias and other annuals and vegetables. Growing plants need room to develop. Spacing plants properly reduces the risk of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Pinch growing tips of ornamentals. Pinching the growing tips will encourage compact, sturdy, branched growth with lots of blooms.

By July 4, finish pruning any plant that goes through the winter with a natural look. Also finish pruning any plant that flowered in the spring.

Cut a few of the vigorous new shoots out of the center of peach trees so they don’t shade the ripening fruit. This will improve the quality of the harvest.