Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden – III

By Sana Athar

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

This is the third and concluding part of our Gardening series and we hope that it may have helped you find your green thumb. Here are some more ‘greens’ you can grow and enjoy fresh right from your own garden!

Radish

Radishes are a hardy, cool-season vegetable that can produce many crops each season due toits rapid days to maturity. Radishes can be planted in both the spring and the fall, but growingshould be suspended in the warmer months. They are a very easy vegetable to grow.Direct sow seeds in the soil. Radishes need sun. If they are planted in too much shade—or even where neighbouring vegetable plants shade them—they put all their energy into producinglarger leaves. Plant consecutively every two weeks or so while weather is still cool for a continuous harvest ofradishes. Plan on a fall planting. You can plant radishes later than any other root crop in latesummer or early fall and still get a harvest.Radishes require well-drained soil with consistent moisture.Radishes will be ready to harvest quite rapidly, as three weeks after planting for some varieties.Do not leave in the ground long after mature stage, their condition will deteriorate quickly.

Spinach

This super-cold-hardy vegetable is a tender crop that can be planted in very early spring as wellas fall and winter.Although seedlings can be propagated indoors, it is not recommended as seedlings are difficultto transplant. Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It’s important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest.Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Successive plantings should bemade every couple weeks during early spring.Water the new plants well in the spring. Keep soil moist with mulching. Water regularly. Spinach can tolerate the cold; it can survive a frost and temps down to 15ºF (-9C).Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach desired size. Don’t wait too long toharvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity.The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked offplants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

Tomato

Tomatoes are America’s favourite garden vegetable (fruit). This vine plant is fairly easy to growand will produce a bumper crop with proper care.If you’re planting seeds , you’ll want to start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the averagelast spring frost date. Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. It is VERY important thatyour site receives at least 6 hours of sun. Transplant after last spring frost when the soil is warm.Water well to reduce shock to the roots. Water generously for the first few days. Water wellthroughout growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. Keep wateringconsistent!

Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe,place them in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a cool, dark place.Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot before they are ripe!The perfect tomato for picking will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.If your tomato plant still has fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant andhang it upside down in the basement or garage. Pick tomatoes as they redden.Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so spoils the flavor and texture that make up thatgarden tomato taste.

Squash & Zucchini

Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It is very susceptible to frost and heat damage, but with proper care it will produce a bumper crop with very few plants. There are many varieties of summer squash to choose from, including zucchini.If you wish to start seeds indoors due to a short gardening season, sow 2 to 4 weeks before lastspring frost in peat pots. However, we recommend direct-seeding for squash because they donot always transplant well. If you do transplant, be very gentle with the roots.The outside planting site needs to receive full sun; the soil should be moist and well-drained, but not soggy.For all type of squash, frequent and consistent watering is recommended. Water most diligently when fruits form and throughout their growth period. Water deeply once a week, applying atleast one inch of water. Do not water shallowly; the soil needs to be moist 4 inches down.Harvest summer squash (zucchini) when small and tender for best flavour. Most varieties average 60 days to maturity, and are ready as soon as a week after flowering. Check plants everyday for new produce. Cut the gourds off the vine rather than breaking them off.

Enjoy fresh harvests and remember to share your gardening experiences with us! We look forward to hearing from you!

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.