Starting a Home Vegetable Garden - West Virginia a Home Vegetable Garden Willi TillS an Pest t:antral…

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  • West Virginia

    Department of Agriculture

    Kent Leonhardt, Commissioner 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East

    Charleston, West Virginia 25035

    (304) 558-3200

    Starting a Home Vegetable Garden

    Willi TillS an

    Pest t:antral and

    Plant Diseases

  • andsurroundingareaweed-freeandcontrolaphids.Plantresistantvarietiesofbeansandcucumbers.

    Blossom End Rot of Tomatoes Ablackened,water-soakedareadevelopsontheblossomendoftomatoes.Thisisanon-parasiticdiseasecausedbylackofwaterduringwarmweather.Droughtorrootinjurycanaccountfortheinsufficiencyofwater,soavoiddamagingroots(donothoearoundtheplants)anddonotuseexcessivenitrogenfertilizers.Besuretheareatobeplantedwithtomatoeshassufficientlimeandsuperphosphate.

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    WHERE TO PUT ITSituate the garden with these things in mind:

    Locatethegardeninfullsun,awayfromtreesorbuildings.Mostvegetabletypesneedallthesuntheycanget.

    Chooseanareawiththebestsoilpossible.Sandyloamtypesoilsareideal.Heavyclaysoilsarethepoorestchoice.

    Considerthegardensproximitytoyourhouseandawatersource.Closerisbetterformostfolks.

    THE FOUNDATIONIt all starts with the soil.

    Soilisthemostimportantfactorinvegetableproduction.Muchofhavingahealthygardenisdirectlyrelatedtohowwellyoubuildandmanageyoursoil,soitsimportanttocontinuallyimprovethedrainage,aeration,andnutrientcontentofyourgardensoil.

    Addingcompostisperhapsthebestwaytoimprovesoilstructure.Compostisbasicallydecomposedorganicmaterialsuchasgrassclippings,fallenleaves,manure,etc.Makecertainyourmaterialiscompletelybrokendownbeforeaddingittoyourgarden,especiallywhendealingwithmanure.Someothermaterialsthatwillimmediatelyimproveyourgardensoilarepeat,perlite,andvermiculite.

    MostsoilsinWestVirginiaaresuitableforgardeningexceptforthosewhicharehighinclay.Clayisverycompact,poorlydrained,andcanbeveryacidic.Avoidclaysoilsifpossible.

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    The earth here is so kind, that tickle her with a hoe, and she laughs with a harvest.

    -Anonymous

    Vegetable gardening is a satisfying hobby and a great way to put fresh food on your table. Heres a primer on starting a garden of your own!

  • THE FUELGood soil fertility will improve vigor and yields.

    Plantsneedcarbon,hydrogen,oxygen,nitrogen,potassium,phosphorus,calcium,sulfur,iron,magnesium,zinc,manganese,boron,andcoppertogrow.

    Plants,likehumansaremainlycarbon,hydrogen,andoxygen.Theother13elementsmakeuponly0.5%ofplanttissue,butwhengrowthislimited,theproblemcanusuallybetracedtoadeficiencyinoneofthem.

    Nitrogen,phosphorus,andpotassiumareconsideredprimarynutrientsbecauseplantsusetheminlargeramountsinrelationtotheothernutrients.

    Calcium,magnesium,andsulfuraresecondarynutrients.Limedsoilrarelyhasproblemswithcalciumandmagnesiumlevels.Sulfurisrarelydeficientinsoilswherecompostisaddedregularly.

    Theothernutrientsnotedarecalledmicro-nutrientsbecauseplantsusethemonlyinverysmallamounts.

    Theonlytrulyaccuratewaytodeterminehowtofertilizeyoursoiliswithasoiltest.TheWestVirginiaUniversitySoilTestingLabwilltestyournutrientlevelsandpHforfree.ContactyourcountyextensionagentortheWVDAformoreinformationonthesoiltest.

    UNLOCKING YOUR SOILS POTENTIALSoil pH governs a plants ability to take up nutrients from the soil.

    SoilpHisameasurementoftheacidityoralkalinityofsoil.ThepHscalerunsfrom0(mostacid)to14(mostalkaline),with7asneutral.

    Technically,pHisthenegativelogarithmofthehydrogenionconcentration.Inanutshell,pHisameasurementofhydrogenions(H+)inthesoil.Themorehydrogenionsthereare,themoreacidthesoil.

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    tobirdsorotheranimals!

    Bacterial Blight Large,dry,brownspots,oftensurroundedbyyellowborders,appearontheleavesofbeansandpeas.Water-soakedspotswithreddishmarginsmayappearinthepodsandreddishcankersmaybeonthestems.Thebacteriaarecarriedontheseeds.ThisdiseaseisrarelyfoundwestoftheRockyMountains;therefore,wheneverpossible,westerngrownseedshouldbeplanted.Donotplantdiscoloredseedsorthosefromspottedpods.Avoidworkinginthegarden

    whenplantsarewet,becausethediseasespreadsmorerapidlyonwetfoliage.

    Bean Root Rot Beansinfectedwithbeanrootrotturnyellow,wilt,andusuallydiewhenyoung.Avoidplantingbeanswhenthesoilisstillwetandcold.Donotplantseedsdeepabout1inchofsoilcoverissufficient.Avoidplantingbeansinthesameareainwhichyougrewbeansinthelasttwoorthreeseasons.

    Bacterial Wilt of Cucumbers Largevinesgraduallywiltanddie(noyellowingofleaves),andyoungplantsrapidlydie.Olderplantsmayhaveonlyoneshootorrunneraffectedatfirst.Thisdiseaseisspreadbycucumberbeetles(stripedcucumberbeetle).Youngplantsaffectedearlyshouldberemovedanddestroyed.

    Powdery Mildew Thisiscommononmanyvegetableplants,especiallycucumbers,melonsandpeas.Thisdiseasefirstappearsasapowderywhitecoatingontheleafsurface.

    Mosaic Virus Thisdiseaseaffectsmanygardenplantssuchascucumbers,beansandlettuce.Leavesofaffectedplantsbecome

    mottled(greenandyellow)andcurled.Fruitsmaybewarty,misshapenandspotted.Thisviruslivesinperennialweedsmilkweed,groundcherry,catnipandothers.Itisspreadbyaphids.Keepthegarden

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  • inthegardentowarrantconcern.Ifcontrolsareneeded,contactyourcountyextensionagentortheWVDAPlantIndustriesDivision.

    Slugs and Snails Slugsarebrownorgray,shinyorslimysnailswithoutshells.Slugsandsnailseatleavesofsmallplants.

    Control: InWestVirginia,controlisseldomneededforthesepests.

    However,whenslugsandsnailsarepresent,theinfestedareacanbedustedwithhydratedlime.Commercialbaitsarealsoavailable.

    CAUTION: Readthelabeltoseewhetherornotthesebaitsarepermittedonorclosetoediblecrops.

    Whitefly Althoughwecallthislittleinsectwhitefly(duetoitscream-coloredwings),itisnotatrueflyandismorecloselyrelatedtothescaleinsects.Theadultsaretiny(1/20inch),four-wingedcreaturesthatreadilyflyoffthefoliagewhendisturbed.Thelarvaeareflatandimmobileandseldomnoticeduntiltheplantsappearsickly.

    Itusuallymid-orlateJulybeforethispestisnoticed.Atthistime,controlisdifficultandlittlecanbedonetorestorevigortotheplant.Inthepastfewyears,formanyhomegardeners,thisinsecthasbeenamajorpestontomatoes.

    Thisspeciesdoesnotsurviveourwintertemperaturesoutdoors.Infestationscomefromthegreenhousethatproducestheyoungplants.Therefore,controlisbestachievedbyexaminingtheyoungplantscarefullybeforesettingtheminthefield.

    Plant Diseases

    Therearemanyfungi,virusesandbacteriathatcauseplantdiseasesinthevegetablegarden.Onlyafewcanbementionedhere.Manydiseaseproblemscanbeavoidedbypurchasingonlyplantsorseedsofdisease-resistantvarieties.Mostdiseasecontrolchemicalsmaybemixedwiththeinsecticidesyouuse.Checkthelabel.Diseaseproblemsareoftencompoundedbyplantingthesamecropinthesamelocationyearafteryear.Rotatingthecropsfromplacetoplaceisagreataidindisease-controlactivities.

    Seed Decay and Damping Off Certainchemicalsusedtotreatseedwillpreventthesediseases.Beforeplantingseeds,treatthemaccordingtopackagedirections.Neverfeedtreatedseeds

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    WithafewnotableexceptionsmostplantsgrowbestinapHofabout6.0-6.5.ThisslightlyacidicpHiswherethelargestnumberofnutrientions,suchasnitrogen,potassium,phosphorous,andcalciumareavailableforplantuptake.

    SoilpHisparamounttomanagingagoodgarden.Evenifyoursoilhasplentyofnutrientsinit,ifthepHistoofarawayfrom6.5,mostplantswillnotbeabletoabsorbenoughofthemforoptimumgrowth.

    MostWestVirginiasoilsareacidic.Youcanbringanacidsoilcloserto6.5withlime.

    TheonlywaytoknowforsurewhatyoursoilpHisandhowmuchlimewillbeneededtobringitto6.5iswithasoiltest.Again,theWestVirginiaUniversitySoilTestingLabwilltestyoursoilpHandgivealimerecommendationforfree.ContactyourcountyextensionagentortheWVDAformoreinformationonthesoiltest.

    PLAN AND PRACTICEGardening, like most things, requires planning and effort to be successful.

    Agardenplanisparticularlyimportantforbeginners.Itshouldincludewhatvegetablesyouwillplantandwhereyouwillplacetheminthegarden.

    Prepareyourplotduringthefalloronanicedayinearlywinter.Atilleristheeasiestwaytoformyourplot.Ifyoudonthaveaccesstoatiller,goodoldfashionhandshovelingwillhavetodo.Thegoalistotrytocleartheareaofexistingvegetationandloosenthesoil12-18inchesdeep,formingrows24-36inchesapart.

    Inearlyspring,makefurtherimprovementstoyourplotbyclearingweedsandaddingsoilamendments,suchaslime,gypsum,andcompost.

    Addnutrientstoyoursoilinaccordancewiththerecommendationsofa

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  • soiltest.

    Growingsomesortoflegumeduringthefallandwinterseasonssuchashairyvetchandthenincorporatingitintothesoilinspringisagoodwaytoaddnitrogenandothernutrientsnaturally.

    OLD FAVORITESOnce youve chosen your site, prepared your soil with amendments for pH and fertility, youre ready to set out some plants. Here are some commonly grown vegetables that have been filling gardens for years:

    Bush and Snap Beans:Plantthemevery10daysfromApriltoMay.Sowseedsdirectlyintheground,1inchdeepand2inchesapartinarow.Thintheseedlingstooneplantevery6inches.

    Corn: Makethreeoffourplantingseverytwoweeks,startinginAprilatadepthof1.5inches.Allow8inchesbetweenseedsinarow.Cornshouldbeplantedinblocksof3orfourrows,ratherthanasinglerow.Goodpollinationisessentialforthedevelopmentoffullearsandablockplantingwillallowmoreuniformpollinationthanasinglerow.

    Cucumbers: Plantseeds9to12inchesapartinrowsormoundswhichareabout4feetapart.Waterandharvestfrequently.

    Hot peppers:Plantyoungplants24to36inchesapartinarowafterdangeroffrosthaspassedandthesoilhaswarmed.Mostwillyieldheavy,sojustafewoftheseplantswillbeenough.

    Potatoes: Plantseedpotatoes4inchesdeepand12inchesapartinrows.Potatoescanbeharvestedafterthevinesdie.Theharvesttimevariesfromlatesummertofalldependingonthevarietyused.Mostvarietieswillkeepformonthsinacoolcellar.Differentvarietieswillkeepfordifferinglengthsoftime.

    Sweet Peppers: Sameashotpeppers,butyoumaywantto

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    stembyinchallaroundwillusuallypreventdamage.

    Flies

    Seedcorn Maggot theseare