Jordan Musgrove April 14, 2020 Garden
Guides for plant families and crop rotation are available online from sources such as Virginia Cooperative Extension. Start each new season with a garden plan that you’ve thoughtfully outlined during your off-time.
Baker Creek Heirloom Farm/Watering Can project
Determine how much sun exposure your garden gets before you decide where or what to plant. Most food-bearing plants prefer between 6 and 10 hours of sun exposure per day. And some crops, such as citrus trees, need special care in prolonged or intense sunlight. For example, if a citrus tree’s trunk and freshly pruned limbs aren’t protected, they become susceptible to “sunscald” and the incurable “sooty mold disease.”
Skill and technique are definitely key in the equation for a successful garden, but no one starts out as a master gardener. Gardening is a learning process, so stick with it, and be proud of your improvements each season.
Digging is more practical for preparing small beds. Dig only when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist but dry enough to fall apart when you drop it. Use a sharp spade or spading fork to gently turn the top 8 to 12 inches of soil, mixing in the organic matter from Step 4 at the same time. (Walking on prepared beds compacts the soil, so lay down boards temporarily to distribute your weight.)
Some edibles tolerate partial shade, which ranges from four to six hours, but the plants often grow smaller, render smaller produce, and are less productive. When planting in shady areas, you may need to increase the number of plants you grow to get the desired yield. However, that may be a worthwhile tradeoff because fewer weeds grow in shade.
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