If you love to know what you are eating, the best way is to raise your own vegetables. If you have never tasted a tomato or cucumber picked fresh out of the garden, well you are in for a real treat my friends.
When you are just starting, I suggest to do it small and get the feel of it. Try planting a few different tomato varieties, some peppers, cucumbers and of course some lettuce, kale, or whatever other greens you like. I have always suggested a salad garden for the first timers. This way you will not get overwhelmed.
Let’s start by finding the perfect place. All of the suggested plants enjoy a very sunny location, and close to a water supply. Once you have found the perfect place, now let’s test the soil and see if you need to add any nutrients to the soil. I suggest getting our homeowner soil test kits and doing it yourself, or you can get the kits we have from Penn State and they will take all the guesswork out of it. Once you get the results, come see us to help decipher you results.
Now, we know what we want to grow, where we want to grow it, and what our soil needs to give us the best production. You may need to put some clean, weed free top soil or potting soil and work it in to the dirt you have. I like using the bagged variety rather than bulk, because it is sterilized, which will give you less weed and disease issues.
Fertilizing and lime are very important to growing crops. Lots of garden stores recommend using Miracle Gro™. This may be great for flowers but is not so good for vegetables in my opinion. At Copley Feed, we often hear complaints that gardeners have beautiful 6’ plants and very little fruit to harvest. As a farmer all of my life, I know that we get good growth and production by using a fertilizer with low nitrogen, such as an analysis of 6-24-24 or 10-18-10. pH is also very important for crop growth. For a garden you should keep your pH level between 6 and 7.
Once your soil is prepared, stop in and pick from our selection of healthy tomato and pepper plants (generally available in May), and fresh, bulk cucumber, lettuce, and kale seeds (available year round). We will be happy to make suggestions for you when you stop in.
Once the chance of frost is over, usually mid to end of May in Northeast Ohio, you can plant all of your purchases. When you are in to visit us, you can ask for our free planting guide. This will tell you how deep and how far apart to plant your items.
No matter what you do, weeds always seem to creep into our plantings. There are ways to assist you in keeping the weeds at bay. Preen™ or corn gluten are good to use once all the seeds have germinated. Another thing I have tested is the weed free paper which composts right into the soil, or the weed free fabric. All these ways work well.
Watering up to God, as he usually gives us plenty except during July or August. At this time I help out by supplementing when necessary. Soaker hoses are my favorite way to supplement water. You need to do a long, slow watering so the water gets deep down to the roots of the plant. About 1-2 hours at a time 2-3 times a week depending on how hot and dry it is.
Okay, that is it. Now all you need to do is wait for things to ripen, pick and have the most delicious salad you have ever tasted!! ENJOY MY FRIENDS, NANCY