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Trial and Error, How My Garden Grows

It took years for me to have a successful garden. I thought all I needed to do was till up the ground, plant seeds and water. When I built this house in 1989, my garden did a lot better because I have truly great soil. I got serious about gardening and did pretty well for a few years. But I wasn't putting anything back into the soil and my veggies stopped doing well. These are the things I've figured out that work for me. 1. You need to add amendments to your soil to have the right combination of nutrients for your plants. Get a soil test done. It costs about $20 to have it done and it tells you exactly what you need to add and how much. If you call your county extension office they should be able to tell you the best place to get an analysis done 2. Water deep and regularly, and don't get your plant leaves wet on a hot day! I used to hand water and it just wasn't enough. A few years ago I put in a watering system in my raised beds and it has made a big difference. Some beds have mist sprayers, some have drip lines. I set it to water very early (like 5am) so the water on the plant leaves has evaporated by the time the sun is up and hot. If the plant leaves are wet in the hot sun they will burn, and Tomato plants should always be watered at the ground. Tomatoes hate to get their leaves wet! 3. The seeds you get at the grocery store are crap:) Good seed makes a big difference. You get stronger plants and better germination from good seed. There are great seed companies online, Territorial and Johnny's are good, but the best seed for a decent price I have found is Fedco seed. One of my local plant vendors at our Farmers market clued me in to Fedco. Their website isn't as fancy but their prices are great and they have a huge variety of seeds. Some of my favorite seed varieties I get from them are: Maxibel beans, Zephyr yellow squash, their Arugula seed, and Fortex pole beans (sells out fast and hard to find). I don't bother to try to grow tomato plants from seed. I buy them at the farmers market. I grow a mixture of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. Over the years I have discovered that heirlooms just can't be counted on for a successful harvest. Planting a few hybrid ensures I have tomatoes, even in a bad tomato year.

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