Home Grown Vegetables

Home Grown Vegetables

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Home Grown Vegetables

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Home Grown Vegetables

Home Grown Vegetables

Home Grown Vegetables
Home Grown Vegetables
Home Grown Vegetables

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Home Grown Vegetables

By Robert Laurence

Not many years ago a veteran plantsman observed that home gardeners could save little money raising their own vegetables, considering the labor involved, although he admitted that the taste difference between garden and commercially grown vegetables was almost beyond description. No longer is this the case. Home grown vegetables remain vastly superior in taste compared to commercial farm produce, but present market prices, astronomical even in season, prove conclusively that the home gardener can affect great savings growing his own vegetables, especially when much of the labor is eliminated.

Take just tomatoes, for example. Using the plan described below you can grow at least 40 tomato plants, which will yield anywhere from 500 to 800 fruits weighing a total of 250 to 400 pounds. Even at a low in season price of about 50-cents a pound that many tomatoes would cost from $125 to $200 at the supermarket. As 40 small plants, mulching material, and fertilizer will cost no more than $ 10, it is easy to see the resultant savings. Even figuring your labor under this scheme (a maximum of 4 hours work planting and labor throughout the season) at $5 an hour, your profit in growing tomatoes alone will be from $75 to $150. Your savings on this entire vegetable garden should easily total $500.

Actually, just two mornings in late spring is practically all the time needed to plant and care for the entire garden. The secret is to choose easy to grow, disease resistant vegetables, to plant them at the proper time, and then to mulch them.

Begin about the last week in May, choosing a sunny day to turn over the ground, rake in fertilizer and plant your seeds. Composted cow manure or 5 10 5 commercial fertilizer is best for most vegetables and should be applied according to the directions on the package. As for the best vegetables, select varieties that tolerate, or, indeed, thrive in hot summer weather. Neither should time and effort be wasted on vegetables that taste almost the same purchased from the store.

For both taste and adaptability, we would recommend tomatoes, sweet corn, bush string beans and cucumbers. All are relatively easy to grow, prolific bearers, and each provides a taste treat that money can't buy. Plant everything but the tomatoes from seed, purchasing your tomato plants at any reliable nursery or garden center. There are numerous excellent varieties to choose from. For tomatoes try either the Burpee Big Boy, Manalucie, Climbing Triple Crop, or a few of each. For the sweetest corn plant the new supersweet varieties. Your best bet for cucumbers is a mosaic - resistant seed such as the Burpee E I Hybrid. Garden catalogs, of course, will provide you with many more excellent choices.

In planting the garden choose a sunny site with good drainage. After fertilizing, plant the beans, then the cucumbers, then the tomato plants and finally the corn - that is, plant the crops that grow tallest last. The tomatoes and cucumbers will need about 1 to 2 feet between both plants and rows; the beans require a foot between rows and six inches between plants; and the corn can be planted about one foot apart each way. Sow the seeds according to the directions on the packages, but do not thin them farther apart than above, directions notwithstanding. The spacing directions recommended here will be regarded as heresy by some gardening experts, but they do work and are well worth a try in your backyard. Gardening will not be as convenient, and immense prize-winning vegetables will not be grown, but in what better way can the average homeowner with little room to raise sufficient produce for the table" With this plan you can plant three rows of each vegetable in a 15 by 20 foot space. Three such 20 foot rows of beans should yield about 240 portions; cucumbers, 240 portions; corn, 60 portions; and tomatoes, at least 500 portions.

The plants should be thinned about three weeks to a month later - this being your second morning of work. Before then it will only be necessary to turn on the sprinkler and weed the young plants occasionally. Immediately after the plants are thinned, in about the last week in June, they should be mulched. In most sections of the country the ground will be warm enough at this time to apply mulch thickly, which will eliminate most of the need for weeding and watering all the rest of the season. Choose any good mulch (see our list of free mulches further on), such as salt hay or straw. Even last autumn's leaves will do - only, however, if they are first shredded or are partially decomposed (we've used them many times). First, water the ground thoroughly - soak it. Then literally cover the garden with the mulch, right up to the stems of the plants, applying it at a depth of six inches or more. Your second morning of work ends after you set five foot stakes behind each tomato plant for the vines to grow on, unless you choose to let the tomato plants sprawl unstaked. The cucumbers - although it is also best to erect supports for them to climb on - will do well sprawling over the mulch.

Except for tying the tomatoes as they climb up on the stakes, adding mulch as the plants grow, and watering occasionally with a water soluble fertilizer if you wish, your only remaining work in the garden will be harvesting the crops. To repeat, the mulch will all but eliminate weeding and watering in the hot summer sun and the disease resistant varieties of vegetables will make spraying unnecessary.


 
 
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