We were thrilled by the response to last week’s post– seems many of us are harboring secret planting intentions. Chef Moy continues the series with tips on watering, pest control and harvesting. Enjoy!
Watering your plants too much can affect their development, and in the worst case, overwatering can destroy them completely. It is important to keep them sheltered on rainy days, but you also need to allow air and light flow to prevent mold and allow photosynthesis. Try using Mel’s soil mix or a similar mix (make your own or buy something similar here), which allows for good water flow- this will help keep the plants safe.
The best time to water your plants is in the morning; try to have the water at room temperature and water enough to keep them moist. If you don’t have time to water your garden, you can automate it using an automatic watering system. This is very handy, especially in hot weather when you might need to water more often- in the summer, your soil can get very dry.
Pests Be Gone
When cultivating using an organic agricultural philosophy, it goes without saying that you want to keep your crops free from harmful pesticides- sure they remove the pests but they are also toxic to our health. I found neem oil to be the best long-term option for natural pest control. It takes around five weeks to get rid of the bugs though so you need to be patient- aphids are especially troublesome.
A good recipe of thumb is to mix a teaspoon of neem oil, a teaspoon of eco-friendly dish soap and a litre of filtered water. Mix it well and put it into a spray bottle. It is vital to spray the plants at nighttime- that is the best time for the oils to be absorbed into the plant skin. During daylight, sunshine can prevent the absorption process.
Birds can be pesky too- they can be avoided by building a mesh around your garden. I made mine using chicken mesh and some water pipes. These materials can be easily found in any hardware store. Don’t forget to use gloves when handling wire mesh as it is easy to cut yourself.
How and when to harvest is ultimately a gardener’s choice- you can start by cutting a few baby spinach or other small plant’s leaves to get a taste but don’t harvest more than 50% of your crop if you want to allow your plant to keep producing. The only reason to harvest the whole lot is if you want to replant from scratch of if an abrupt weather change is coming that will affect your crop. It’s a good idea to start growing seedlings in parallel to your crops so you always have an ongoing production of food. For example for rocket lettuce, it is recommended to plant it every three weeks to ensure uninterrupted harvesting. Most importantly, learn from your experience and enjoy the gardening journey. Remember, you can always start over by planting again!
Want to Know More?
You can also check the Green Queen Guide’s Gardening Supplies section for more listings.