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New year brings new gardening opportunities

Posted: January 1, 2012 - 1:08am  |  Updated: January 1, 2012 - 6:50am

It’s New Year’s Day already. This past year seemed to fly by.

Last year’s winter was very cold and the summer very dry.

My vegetable garden was a disaster because I was unable to keep it and fruit trees watered, so I lost the vegetables and the fruit. The fruit trees and small fruit plants are still living, so I am hoping for a great crop this year.

I believe all of us who garden are optimists. Last year was bad, but this is a new year and it will be a great year. But in order for it to be a great year, a number of things must happen. Some of these have nothing to do with the weather, but what is put down on paper.

Good planning is essential to having a good vegetable garden or landscape. There are a number of questions that need to be asked about last year’s garden.

The first question I asked is whether I planted too much or not enough of certain vegetables. Looking back at my garden records, I planted too many tomatoes and not enough squash.

The second question is about what varieties of vegetables I will use. I look back at how much the varieties I used produced and their flavor. I try new varieties every year. I will plant a new variety of squash along with the ones I have planted in the past. Some of the new varieties I continue to use and some never get planted again.

Also, I try new varieties to see if they are resistant to insects and diseases.

The third question I ask is about planting dates. Did I plant too early or too late?

There are recommended planting dates for vegetables in our area, and the vegetables need to be planted as soon as possible.

Vegetables planted early have fewer insect problems than those planted late in the season.

Before the first vegetable seed or plant is put in the ground, I need to know the nutrient levels in the soil. I can find this out by having it analyzed.

A soil test will help develop and maintain a more productive soil by providing information about the soil’s fertility status. Also, the soil test will give the proper liming and fertilization program for your lawn, garden and ornamental plants.

 

Charles Phillips is a retired Columbia County Extension Service agent and operates Hort Consulting. He can be reached at cphillipshort@comcast.net, or at (706) 836-2152.

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