Home gardeners have finally gotten warm-season vegetable crops planted in their home vegetable gardens. Now, you may wonder, “What should I do next?” Today on episode 7 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast, I am sharing 4 secrets on how to keep your garden looking attractive to finish strong for the month of May! Stay with me for more details right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
#1- Use Companion Planting Strategies.
Gardeners have planted several warm-season vegetables in the garden this month! They may have planted a nice mixture of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, and sweet corn. Alongside these vegetables, gardeners should consider planting culinary herbs since they serve as a great companion plant. Companion planting is defined as planting two or more crops near each other crops in the vegetable garden to gain benefits for the home gardener. It has been shown to maximize vegetable yields, improve pest management, increase nutrient uptake, and enhance pollination with some crops.
Planting herbs around vegetables invite beneficial organisms to the garden. Herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley attract beneficial insects to feed and find shelter to support various stages of predatory and parasitic insects. Lady beetles, lacewings, praying mantids, and spiders are among those organisms that are attracted to aromatic culinary herbs. Not only are companion plantings good for attracting beneficial insects, they also draw in native pollinators. Some examples of culinary herbs to make room for in the garden are basil and oregano. Basil is a good herb for planting around tomatoes and provides shelter for a number of beneficial insects such as lady beetles and lacewings. Oregano is the pizza herb to use for seasoning pizza dishes at home.
Another plant that comes to mind with companion planting is marigolds. Several gardeners plant this warm season flower every year in their garden to protect vegetables from harmful insects. Research has shown that the roots of marigolds produce biochemical that are poisonous to minute worm-like organisms that can cause damage to plants.
To discover other possibilities of companion plants to use in the home vegetable garden, make sure to see the show notes. I have included a table that lists crops that do well when planted next to each other in the home vegetable garden.
Crop:Companions:CornBeans, Cucumbers, English Pea, Irish Potato, Pumpkin, Squash CucumberBeans, Cabbage, Corn, English Pea, Radish, Sunflowers EggplantBasil, Beans, Catnip, Lemon Grass, Marigold OkraPeppers, Squash, Sweet Potatoes PepperBasil, Clover, Marjoram, Tomato SquashNasturtium, Corn, Marigold Sweet PotatoOkra, Peppers, Sunflowers TomatoAsparagus, Basil, Carrot, Cucumber, Marigold, Onions, Parsley, Rosemary Source: ATTRA publication on Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources
#2- Provide vegetable plants with water after being planted.
It is important to provide plants with water after being planted in the ground. Carry out watering routines in the morning between the hours of 6am and 10am. This time frame allows plants plenty of time to dry off during the day. Avoid splashing the foliage with water to reduce foliar diseases.
While it may be expensive, drip irrigation is a convenient way to provide consistent soil moisture to plants. Water is targeted at the base of the plant which is then absorbed by the root system.
Here are critical times to water common vegetable crops in the home garden.
Cucumber- flowering and fruit developmentEggplant- uniform supply from flowering through harvestMelon- fruit set and early developmentPepper- uniform supply from flowering through harvestSummer squash- bud development, flowering, and fruit developmentSweet Corn- silking, tasseling, and ear developmentTomato- uniform supply from flowering through harvest
#3- Apply fresh organic mulch.