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Lifestyles -

June 1, 2013

The plot beckons

Experts offer tips for first-time gardeners


It is a good time to plant young vegetables including tomatoes, cucumber, squash, peppers and watermelon.

“The underground stuff, you would want to put that in earlier in May, and the peas too, they like it when it is cooler,” said Richard Hewlett, who has been farming in Otego since 1975 and owns Gretna Garden with his daughter.

Richard Hewlett said a little spring snow helps some plants.

“You know what we call spring snow — we call it poor man’s fertilizer,” Hewlett said. “It is not just the water. Rain and snow bring in micro-nutrients that just watering alone doesn’t.”

Water is vital to young plants. If an outdoor water source is not available, inexpensive watering cans are an option, as are rain collectors that slowly release collected water through punctured hoses.

After deciding what to plant, it is helpful to have a chart with all of the plants marked. A well-planned garden allows for taller vegetable to shade some vegetable that cannot tolerate too much sun.

Space is important to factor into a garden plan. Young vegetables will grow quickly and take up a varied amount of space. Squash will grow into a large bush, while cucumbers will run along the garden if they are not trained to grow up on a trellis or tomato cage. Tomatoes, depending on the variety, can grow five feet or taller.

Keep the valleys between the rows clean of weeds with plastic, newspaper or straw. Weeds should be periodically removed from the garden beds.

Most gardeners are able to see a lush yield in July without too much effort. The summer conditions in the area and the quality of the soil help even the most unlikely of gardeners to reap the efforts of their work.

“Our soil is really good, especially along the river,” Carrie Hewlett said. “It is like the Nile with all the nutrients in the silt.”

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