Monthly Archives: July 2012

Rainy days

Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.” ~Forrest Gump

It turns out, Forrest knew what he was talking about. Peas and carrots actually do make fine companions in the garden.

I think I am getting cabin fever. We have had a lot of rain in the past two weeks. I have made a few trips around the garden but there hasn’t been much opportunity to actually do anything out there. Everything is now up and growing, with some of my latest carrots lagging a little behind in the shade of the tomatoes.

The peas are reaching for something to grab onto, clearly ready for a tripod or trellis.

There is no water quite like rain water to feed plants. After a good rain everything seems to grow faster – especially weeds. If you live in a city or have chlorinated water, it is a good idea to let it sit for 24 hours so that the chlorine has a chance to evaporate. If you live in the country, well water is more than likely just fine, but waiting is still a good idea. Cold water can cause stress and shock plants. Letting water sit in the sun and warm up before applying it will avoid these problems.

The general rule of thumb is that plants require an inch of water per week, preferably not all at once. This is not entirely accurate for plants such as tomatoes which have a greater water requirement due to the amount of moisture that is required to produce fruit. During damp weather and high humidity, it may not be necessary to water at all. When it is hot or dry, that small drink of water will help your plants to withstand the temperatures and make the most of the sunshine.

Some people choose to water their gardens in the evening, believing that this will give the plants a chance to drink deeply before water begins to evaporate. Evening watering can cause problems. Some types of root rot and some pests (slugs for example) thrive in these wet conditions.

“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”  ~Lou Erickson

Watering plants in the morning helps to prepare them for the day. It allows excess water that may hit the fruit or foliage to evaporate before the sun is at it’s peak. Watering during the hottest part of the day is never a good idea. Those tiny droplets of water can become little lenses in the sunlight, magnifying the sun’s rays and burning plants.

Staggering plantings of various crops can help you to make the most of small spaces and produce a continuous harvest. Some crops, such as radishes will grow to maturity in a very short time (23 days for the variety planted here) and can be planted in bare spots to make every available space productive.

Carrots and tomatoes are old friends in the garden. Carrots can be tucked into open spaces and grow happily in the shade of established tomatoes. While tomatoes like to be planted deep, the roots do not seem to bother the carrots in the least. Tomatoes repel pests that might otherwise harm your carrots, and carrots grow deep into the soil making pathways for water and air and reducing soil-compaction. Both prefer to grow in the same conditions and soil types.

Having some knowledge of gardening is good, but there is no substitute for actual experience. Zone maps, farmer’s almanacs, gardening books and websites can supply a tremendous amount of information – usually suited to the authors particular climate and location. These are valuable resources, but every garden has it’s own rules too.

As a general rule of thumb, when unsure of what, where or when to plant – stick something in the ground. I have yet to find any theory or equation that can compete with a plants will to live.

 “My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.”  ~H. Fred Dale


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