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Garden Clippings
Summer is time to prepare for veggies
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History repeats itself, sometimes for different reasons. In the 1940s Victory Gardens were planted in many yards, front or back.

Food was scarce and ration stamps were needed to purchase some products. Vegetable gardening was a necessity.

Today, home gardens may be the best way to be assured that the vegetables for the table are full of vitamins and don’t carry disease. There is very little loss of value when vegetables are picked and consumed shortly thereafter.

Recently I met a family whose school-aged daughter asked her parents if they could grow their own vegetables. In conversation I learned that broccoli was one of her favorites. My experience is that there are two broccolis, store bought that is tough and bitter and the other, sweet, tender homegrown.

The family will share responsibility to collect organic material as a first and important step. Kitchen waste (greens), oak leaves, municipal composted yard waste and garden compost and horse manure are free; humus and dried chicken manure can be purchased.

A full day’s sun and distance from tree roots increases the chances this will be a productive garden.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, most of Pinellas County “soil” is sand, which does not contain many nutrients. By adding organic matter, nutrients don’t wash away so quickly. I’m not sure it’s possible to add too much – maybe it all goes to the other side of the world. Whether using all organic methods or not, the sand needs amendments to support healthy plants.

Now that the garden area is piled high and has been mixed, it is time to solarize it to kill nematodes. Those are the microscopic animals that enter the roots of a plant, eat and cause a bump that cuts off the ability of the plant to grow. Clear plastic stretched tightly over dampened soil with all edges sealed will cause the soil to heat enough to kill nematodes that are within the top four inches of soil. Since there are no chemical methods; this, with high organic material, is the only way to keep nematodes to a minimum.

The plastic can remain on until it’s time to plant in the fall.

Ruth Davies is a Pinellas County Master Gardener. She can be reached at
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