Vegetable Gardening

Category: Education

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Basic Training for Master Gardeners. Vegetable gardening do's and don'ts


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Basic Training For Florida Master Gardeners Prepared by Jim Stephens & Sydney Park Brown Vegetable Gardening

A Great Resource...:

A Great Resource... Author: Jim Stephens University Press of Florida ~$17.00

Discussion Topics:

Discussion Topics Introduction Site selection and preparation Garden planning and design Soil preparation Planting Garden Care Outline


Introduction 1 million gardens in Florida Spring most popular Summer least popular Fall/ winter great time Average size: 300 - 600 sq ft Retail value: $ 1.00 per sq ft Major problems: infertile soils, pests, and disorders related to weather

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A traditional Florida vegetable garden

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Non-traditional Gardening Techniques Container gardening Grow Boxes/Raised Beds Hydroponics (Water culture) Organic gardening

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Containers Pots and cans Buckets and baskets Styrofoam ice chests Plastic bags Barrels and drums Container Gardening

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Strawberry Barrel

Grow Boxes/Raised Beds:

Grow Boxes/Raised Beds Construction 4-5 feet wide 5-8 feet long 6-12 inch high 24 inches high for wheelchairs Materials variable Lumber: treated or cedar *

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Soil-less Media Gravel Sand Sawdust Bark Combinations of ingredients: vermiculite, peat moss, sand, bark, other

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Sample Mixture Sand - 1 bushel “Builder’s Sand” (8 gal) Organic matter (peat, compost) - 1 bushel 1.25 cups dolomite 1 cup 8-8-8 fertilizer with micro-nutrients Soil-less Media

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Hydroponics Components: Water Container Suspension (support) Nutrients Aeration Nutrient Solutions: Commercial preps Custom formulations Macro- and Micro-nutrients pH control

Organic Gardening:

Organic Gardening Certification required ( if selling produce) No synthetic chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) Soil building Nature’s way Environmentally safe Composting Mulching Animal manures Green manures Crop rotation Home remedies Natural predators Resistant varieties

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Site Selection * Near house & water source Full sun (> 5-6 hours/day) Away from competing tree roots Well-drained soils

Garden Planning:

Garden Planning Considerations Which vegetables do you like? What will you do with surplus? Do you have the right tools? Labor? Money?

Garden Design:

Garden Design Start with “Florida Vegetable Garden Guide” Draw a plan on paper Maximize space *

Ways to Maximize Space: Trellis:

Ways to Maximize Space: Trellis Tip : Putting the trellis on the north side of a garden minimizes shading of the garden. Garden Design

Ways to Maximize Space: Wide-rows :

Ways to Maximize Space: Wide-rows Garden Design

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Corn Tips : Corn should always be planted in blocks for good pollination. Corn requires large amounts of fertilizer and space (1 sq ft/plant) Garden Design

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting :

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting Interplant short- and long-season vegetables Example: Carrots and Radishes Garden Design

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting :

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting Interplant tall and short vegetables Example: Corn and Lettuce Garden Design

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting :

Ways to Maximize Space: Interplanting Example: Beans trellised on corn Garden Design

Ways to Maximize Space: Succession Planting:

Ways to Maximize Space: Succession Planting Garden Design

Garden Planning - Crop Arrangement:

Garden Planning - Crop Arrangement Group by family (for crop rotation) By planting/maturation dates By plant size (tall, medium, short) Similar spacing (ex: diff beans/same row) Herbs and long season crops together Garden Design

Companion Planting “Myths” :

Compatibility Pest repellency Nitrogen fixation Companion Planting “Myths” * Garden Design

Garden Tools:

Hoe • Garden tractor Rake • Roto-tiller Spade • Sprayer Trowel • Wheel-barrow Yard-stick • Wheel-hoe Labels • Garbage cans Bucket • Storage shed Garden Tools

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Garden Soil

Garden Soil:

Garden Soil Physical Chemical Biological Florida types Sand Clay Marl Rock Muck/Peat

Soil Preparation:

Soil Preparation Clear debris, sod & plants Cultivate soil Amend soil with organic matter Test soil pH (adjust if needed)

Soil pH:

Soil pH Acidity/alkalinity Best range: 5.8-6.5 Soil test Too acid? Lime with Dolomite Too alkaline? Add micro-nutrients Add sulfur only if over-limed Soil

Organic Matter:

Organic Matter


Conditions soil Improves water holding Improves nutrient holding Supplies nutrients – slow release Buffers soil Increases soil “life” Benefits Organic Matter *

Animal Manures:

Animal Manures Kinds & Composition Condition Application Rates Organic Matter

Animal Manure Composition:

Animal Manure Composition Bull 86 .55 .15 .50 Hen 73 1.10 .90 .50 Horse 80 .65 .25 .50 Sheep 68 1.00 .75 .40 Turkey 74 1.30 .70 .50 Kind % Water %N %P %K Organic Matter

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Animal Manure – Condition ? • How rotted is the manure? • Kind and amount of bedding mixed with it?

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Animal Manure - Rates : • Before planting broadcast 25-100 lbs / 100 sq. ft. Supplement with 2-3 lbs fertilizer • After planting side dress 5 lbs / 100 sq. ft.

Plant or “Green” Manures:

Plant or “Green” Manures Amendments (Ex: peat) Compost (1 lb/sq.ft.) Cover crops: Summer - cowpeas, hairy indigo Winter - lupine, hairy vetch, annual rye Organic Matter

Bedding the Garden:

Bedding the Garden Elevated rows - 6-8 inches high - 12-48 inches wide Hills (mounds 12-18 inch wide) Water control (drainage) Root and tuber crops benefit, especially potatoes

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Seeds or Transplants?

Seeding the Garden:

Seeding the Garden Advantages Can choose best varieties for FL Seed veggies that don’t transplant well



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Saved seed Fresh seed versus…

Seed Longevity:

Seed Longevity

Seed Storage:

Seed Storage 3-15 years Cool: 35-50° F Dry: 50-70% RH Seed moisture low: 10-14% Refrigerator Freezer Absorbent material

Seeding Rules of Thumb:

Seeding Rules of Thumb Plant thick Thin (see VG Guide for spacing) Plant seed no deeper than 2x diameter Press tiny seeds into soil Keep seed bed moist (cover with burlap)

Thinning Plants:

Thinning Plants Why thin? Thin when seedlings are small Seedlings may be used for: Transplanting Greens and salad Leave best plants even if spacing is off Do not disturb roots

Starting With Transplants:

Starting With Transplants Advantages Early start Avoid bad weather Choice of plants Instant success Ideal seed germination Required for some: Sweet potato and Strawberry

Setting Plants:

Setting Plants 4-6 weeks old Do not disturb roots Set in moist soil Water around roots Set at proper depths Starter solution helpful *

Other Plant Parts:

Other Plant Parts Cutting - sweet potato Tuber - potato Bulb - onion Entire fruit - chayote Clove - garlic Crown - asparagus Stem - cassava

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Caring for the Garden

Watering the Garden:

Watering the Garden No water - no garden Hand-held cans or hose Overhead sprinklers Drip systems Row-middles (on slopes) Seep irrigation (on hardpan)

Irrigation Considerations:

Irrigation Considerations Water early in day. Young plants need 1” water per week -- apply water frequently. Mature plants need 2” water per week - apply infrequently.

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Fertilizing the Garden

Plant Nutrients:

Plant Nutrients Macro-nutrients Primary N (nitrogen) P (phosphorus) K (potassium) Secondary Ca ( calcium) Mg (magnesium) S (sulfur) Micro-nutrients B (boron) Cl (chlorine) Cu (copper) Fe (iron) Mn (manganese) Mo (molybdenum) Zn (zinc) Fertilizing the Garden

Inorganic Fertilizers:

Inorganic Fertilizers Complete (N-P-K). In-complete (Ex. muriate of potash - KCl) Ratio (1-1-1, like 6-6-6). Tag shows what’s in the bag and sources. May also contain secondary and micros. Usually water soluble unless slow-release and/or organic. Fertilizing the Garden

Florida Garden Amounts:

Florida Garden Amounts Fertilizing the Garden Soil Type N-P-K Ratio Amount Amount banded per broadcast 10ft row per 100 sq ft Sand, marl 6-6-6 5 oz 2-3 lbs or clay Organic 0-12-20 2 oz 1-2 lbs (muck or peat)

Fertilizer Side-dressing :

Fertilizer Side-dressing Apply as needed, or every 2-3 weeks. Apply to side of row at edge of root zone. Apply per 100 s.f. - 1# (6-6-6) or 1/3 # (15-0-15) Less often if organic or slow-release. Main benefit is for nitrogen supply. Fertigation allows frequent applications. Liquid fertilizers may be used as well. Fertilizing the Garden

Cultivation :

Cultivation Purpose: Weed control Aeration and water penetration Aesthetics Do not damage roots Good time to apply fertilizer then mulch

Weed Control:

Weed Control Cultivation Hand-pulling Mulching Herbicides (Don’t use during growing season) Do not compost perennials or weeds “in-seed” Keep weed-free during off-season


Mulches Hay/Pine straw Leaves Bark/Wood chips Yard waste Sawdust Peanut hulls Poly-plastic Newspaper Cardboard Carpet Organic Mulches In-Organic Mulches

Benefits of Mulch:

Benefits of Mulch Retains soil moisture Reduces weeds Moderates soil temperatures Less fruit disease (no contact with soil)

Supporting Tall Plants:

Supporting Tall Plants Staking Trellising On Fence Cages Plant-to-plant

Pruning Tomatoes:

Pruning Tomatoes Purpose Larger fruit Train indeterminate types Optional Remove young suckers Leave two main stems Don’t remove leaves on main stems

Troubleshooting Garden Problems:

Troubleshooting Garden Problems

Climatic Effects:

Climatic Effects Temperature Rain Humidity Light Wind Cool/Warm season crops Seed germination Bolting Cold injury Fruit disorders

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Frost Protection :

Frost Protection Cold-free zones Cool-season Vegetables Safe planting dates Folklore Greenhouses Hotbeds Mobile containers Row covers Hardening Irrigation Mulching effects Cultivation effects

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Tomato Blossom Drop

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Sun Scald

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Hail Damage

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Deformed Fruit

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Female Flower Male Flower Tip : Curcurbits require bees for pollination

Plant Hunger Signs:

Plant Hunger Signs (N) Yellow older leaves and stunting. (P) Purple foliage and stunting. (K) Tip and marginal leaf browning. (Ca) Blossom end rot; die-back at tips. (Mg) Older leaf mottling. (B) Soft/dead internal tissue. (Fe) and (Mn) Intervenal yellowing . Fertilizing the Garden

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Iron Deficiency

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Calcium Deficiency/ ”Blossom-End Rot”

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Mechanical Discoloration Woody tissue Internal blemish Poor taste Off flavor No edible product Physiological Disorders

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No edible product: The culprit?

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Garden Insects

Soil-borne Insects (Damage underground plant parts or lower parts):

Soil-borne Insects (Damage underground plant parts or lower parts) Ants Cutworms Lesser Cornstalk Borers Mole Crickets Sweet-potato Weevils White Grubs Wire-worms

Chewing Insects:

Chewing Insects (Insects that damage leaves and fruits) Worms/Caterpillars Beetles Weevils Grasshoppers

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Chewing Insect Damage

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Tomato Fruit Worm Damage

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Mexican Bean Beetles

Piercing-Sucking Insects:

Piercing-Sucking Insects Aphids Spider mites Leafhoppers Leaf-footed plant bug Squash bug Stink bug Thrips Whiteflies

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“Silvering” caused by Whiteflies

Beneficial Insects:

Beneficial Insects Bees Lacewings Lady beetle Praying mantis Spiders Dragonflies Parasitic wasps

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Caterpillar parasite

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Odd-Balls Serpentine leafminer Tomato pinworm Ants Slugs Snails

Managing Insects:

Managing Insects Timely planting Scout & handpick Beneficial insects and fungi Soap & Oil Sprays, Bt, Neem Chemical insecticides Resistant varieties? *

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Vegetable Garden Nematodes and Diseases

Vegetable Nematodes :

Vegetable Nematodes Symptoms Severity Main kinds Root knot Sting Stubby root

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Root-Knot Nematode – a bad thing! Bacterial nodules – a good thing!

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Root-Knot Nematode

Vegetable Nematodes :

Vegetable Nematodes Management Crop rotation Resistant varieties Organic matter Cover crops Marigolds Soil solarization Chemical Other measures

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Soil Solarization

Soil Solarization:

Soil Solarization Remove all vegetation Add soil amendments (compost, etc) Turn/roto-till soil Wet soil to activate nematodes Cover with plastic (1-6 mil, UV resistant) Bury edges of plastic for a good seal Leave plastic in place for 4-6 weeks (June-September best)

Diseases of Roots /Stems:

Diseases of Roots /Stems Damping off Root rot Southern blight Sclerotinia rot Fungal wilts Bacterial wilts Black rot

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Tomato Wilt Disease Note discolored vascular tissue

Diseases of Vegetable Leaves:

Diseases of Vegetable Leaves Fungal spots Bacterial spots Blights Rusts Powdery mildew Virus Mosaics

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Bean Rust

Diseases of Vegetable Fruits :

Diseases of Vegetable Fruits Damping off Leaf spots Fruit rot Virus Wilts Tip : Unlike insects which are controlled “as needed”, diseases must be prevented with protective sprays of fungicides or other strategies (rotation, solarization, etc)

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Fruit Rot

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Squash Mosaic Virus

Use Pesticides Safely:

Use Pesticides Safely Follow the label Use on listed crops Measure correctly Follow application intervals Wear protective gear Use, store, and dispose of containers correctly Wash and peel produce before eating

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Herbicide Injury

Animal Pests in the Garden:

Animal Pests in the Garden Birds Moles Mice Rabbits Squirrels Armadillos Raccoons Deer Management/control Fencing Trapping Scarecrows Scare devices Noise makers Repellants Other tactics

Created by: Jim Stephens UF Vegetable Gardening Specialist and Sydney Park Brown Extension Horticulture Agent:

Created by: Jim Stephens UF Vegetable Gardening Specialist and Sydney Park Brown Extension Horticulture Agent

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