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Defeat Diabetes
150 153rd Ave,
Suite 300

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Shirley’s Organic Vegetable Garden™

By Shirley Barriger
Are you ready to start planting your vegetable garden?  If you have never grown vegetables, I encourage you to start with just a few of your favorite vegetables. 
My previous articles include some simple and basic ways to begin.  The September article has ideas about container or 5-gal. bucket gardening and small salad gardens.  The January article has suggestions how to plan your garden using seed catalogs, friends and family.  Last month I wrote about starting seeds indoors.  They should be growing and getting ready to transplant outdoors soon.

Here is something to remember about transplanting plants that have been sitting indoors for weeks.  If you suddenly change their environment by taking them out into the bright sun, wind and colder air, they can really suffer.  You can spare them this shock if you allow them to make the adjustment gradually, or to “harden off.”  Do this by moving your seed flats or potted plants outdoors for a few hours each day.  As time goes by and weather gets warmer, they can be left out for longer periods of time (it takes about two weeks).  Even plants you buy from a garden store should be treated the same way.  It helps to stop watering your plants a day or two before they are to be hardened off.  Once you place them outside they won’t need to be watered quite so often because there is normally a lot more humidity outside the house than inside.

If the sun is particularly bright as you begin hardening off your plants, leave them in partial shade for a while the first day, and bring them back inside at night.  It may take several days to adjust to full sun.  Leave your plants sheltered from the wind as strong winds can bend tender plants and snap them off.

When your plants are ready to be transplanted outdoors, do it late in the day or on an overcast day.  This helps reduce moisture loss and transplant stress.  They also have enough time to recover before the temperature rises again the next day.

Make your own “mini-coldframes” by cutting the bottoms off of one-gallon plastic jugs (see November article that suggests ways to save them).  Place a stick through the top of the jug and into the ground to anchor it in place.  These work well to protect against wind and cold nights.  Remove them when plant outgrows its shelter.

If your garden area was put to bed, it won’t take long to get it worked up and ready for planting this year.  I hope you have your plans on paper where to plant each vegetable and have allowed enough room for those with vines.  I use a clipboard with the paper of my garden plans to make sure I know where each vegetable is planted.  Note the exact variety so you’ll know whether to grow it again.  Also, date and weather of planting is good to note.

Be sure to mark the beginning and end of each row with a small stick and identify that row on your paper. 

One cherry tomato plant, a few vines of pickling cucumbers, and some leaf lettuce will produce enough all summer for those salads you love.  Don’t forget to get the children involved.  Good luck and happy gardening!

Read More Shirley's Organic Vegetable Garden™ columns
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150 153rd Ave, Suite 300
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