Sweet tomatoes, mouth-watering lemon cucumbers, sizzling peppers, or even blue potatoes -- whatever your preference, grow it! Growing vegetables isn't difficult, although there are a few tricks. Trick number one is to grow veggies where they will get a minimum of six hours or more of sunlight each day.
Trick number two is to provide good draining soil, rich in nutrients and organic matter. This is the biggest challenge because often our soils can be hard, lacking in organic material and heavy with clay. Sometimes soil is so granular water just rushes through it. There are options. Work with existing soil, put in raised beds, or garden in containers. To improve a soil, dig it! Loosen it either by hand or machine to a minimum depth of 12 inches. Deeper is better. Work organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, into the soil. If your soil is cement-hard, build raised beds that are at least 12 inches deep and fill with purchased soil and compost mix. Or, buy the biggest pots with drain holes you can find, about two feet deep and wide, and fill with potting mix.
Trick number three is to provide water in the right way, at the right time, and in the right amount. To avoid diseases, water at the surface rather than spraying leaves with water, especially when watering tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, and melons. With cool nights, the best time to water is early morning. The amount of water needed is influenced by the soil type and how much water it holds. Containers, raised beds, and sandy soils may need water daily, or even twice a day, in the heat of summer when it's windy. Ground beds can be mulched to hold more water, and if there is some clay in the soil, daily watering may not be needed. Soak the entire container or raised bed; or water ground beds to a depth of 12 inches to 15 inches.
To find out more about vegetable gardening, come to my free presentation 5:30 p.m. April 30, at the Carson City Community Garden on Beverly Street, east of the cemetery. Bring a lawn chair. If the weather is chilly or wet, we will meet at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office, 2621 Northgate Lane, Ste. 12. This presentation is open to community garden members and anyone else interested in veggie-gardening.
For information on gardening, call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Or, for horticulture publications logon to: www.unce.unr.edu/publications/horticulture.html. You can also "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing: email@example.com.
JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.