- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Tips for Spring (and Summer) Fruit and Veggie Garden Success!
I begin each spring full of visons of wonderful summer harvests in the veggie garden! It's a wonderful time to dream about what the possibilities are, and they seem endless! There are plants of all types and varieties in the garden centers, seeds of every kind imaginable online and in catalogs, and people like the Master Gardeners are telling you every chance they get that “you can do it, and we are here to help!” ….and we stand by it …..“you CAN do it and we are here to help!!!”
So here are a few tips from our Master Gardeners to you to help you reach you veggie garden dream!! Each tip has a resource linked to it if you want to learn more.
1) Good access to water: Keeping the soil your veggies are growing in evenly moist, like a wrung-out sponge, is key
2) Size matters: It's easy for us all to get carried away with a big veggie garden in the spring when there are plants and seeds for sale everywhere and the weather is not blazing hot! When planning your summer/warm season veggie garden think about caring for it in the summer when it's hot, and try to keep it to a manageable size. This is also especially true this year with the need to save water in our drought. Each year as I learn more, I expand my garden little by little when I feel like I can handle a little more responsibility! Check out our blog post about Ten Tips for the Busy Veggie Gardener to get some more tips on this: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=48940)
3) Mulch for your veggie gardens: Mulch can be used in your veggie garden too! It will keep weeds out, help keep soil moisture in, and also help cool the soil on hot summer days. Check out this blog from the University of Illinois to learn more about the pros and cons of different types of mulches in the veggie garden: https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/good-growing/2022-01-20-common-mulches-used-vegetable-garden
4) Using compost to build your soil: Compost is a great way to improve your overall soil health, and it can help improve drainage in heavy clay soils and improve water and nutrient retention in sandy soils. Adding some finished compost to your veggie beds or containers is a great way to get soils rich in organic matter, which is so important for good veggie growth. Check out this class we just did online about Composting Basics at Home on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwC4VZgTuUc
5) Pollinators in the garden? Hopefully! Lots of summer fruits and veggies need pollination, and will suffer in size, quality, quantity, and shape if they don't get adequate pollination. Planting flowers and using least toxic methods of pest management will help make your garden fruitful and beautiful. Check out this comprehensive publication on “How to Attract and Maintain Pollinators in Your Garden” to learn more https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8498.pdf
6) Pests in the Garden: In addition to having pollinators for proper pollination, there are also many insects that act as beneficial predators. To learn more about using integrated pest management (IPM) in your garden to manage pests with least toxic methods check out one of our Master Gardeners favorite sites, the UC IPM page, to find out about the pests bugging your garden: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html. While you are there check out the section on Natural Enemies in the garden to learn all about beneficial insects: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/natural-enemies/ Want to learn more about how soil is tied to your plants health and is a key part of overall integrated pest management? Check out this blog from last month titled Integrated Pest Management: Building on the Basics: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=51690
7) Should you start your plants from seeds or transplants? It depends! With seeds you can often find more varieties, but they can be harder to start for the busy gardener. Most root veggies do best when started from seeds. Starting with transplants (plants that are already 4 to 6” tall) can give you that instant garden look but can be more expensive. Best of both worlds for non root veggies: start them from seed at home and then transplant them into the garden. Having trouble with your young seedlings dying off? Check this link to learn about “dampening off” and how to manage it http://ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/dampingoffcard.html
8) Seed Saving from your summer garden? Seed saving can be a great adventure and there is so much to learn and explore! Did you know we offer free monthly classes on seed saving online? Check out the recording of our April class on “Seed Saving from your Cool Season Veggie Garden” https://youtu.be/QkdZECMbNDA and check out this short video on seed saving tips (https://youtu.be/I0St3DMm2h0)
9) Fruit Trees: Don't forget about growing fruit trees at home! Fruit trees are a great way to expand your home food forest and there are lots of different types of trees you can grow. They can be grown in big and small yards, and even some will grow in large pots! For more information about growing fruit trees at home check out UC's California Backyard Orchard site at https://homeorchard.ucanr.edu/
10) While you're at it grow some herbs too, they are another great addition to your home veggie garden! Check out our blogs on easy ways to grow herbs at home in this blog https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=50170 The University of Illinois Extension also has some great information on growing herbs too! Remember they have a different climate than we do here is So Cal, but there is still lots of great information so check it out at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/herbs/directory.cfm
Lastly…..You can do it….and ….We are here to help! As always, we are here to help by phone or email! Send us an email with any questions you have about your garden, and including pictures of your plant problems or questions can help too. Don't want to email? Give us a call and leave a message and we will get back to you to help with any of your plant related questions! Also check out our free classes online and in person in your neighborhood throughout the county to learn more about a wide variety of gardening related topics! See our website for more information and check out our helpline at: https://mgsb.ucanr.edu/
San Bernardino County Master Garden Helpline:
Phone number: 909-387-2182
For a general overview of veggie gardening check out this publication “Vegetable Garden Basics” https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8059.pdf
- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Around the office and at events Roxana was always full of gardening questions and really showed an interest in learning more and improving her skills. Her genuine interest and enthusiasm for gardening was inspiring and she always wanted to the take the program but couldn't quite yet due to her busy schedule. During the COVID pandemic, Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill graduated another class of Master Gardeners, including (lucky for us!) Roxana!
Right away she saw what a need there was to offer the classes and information we had for the public about growing food, sustainable landscaping and better living through gardening to the Spanish speaking audience. Roxana was ready to get started right away on translating presentations and teaching classes in Spanish. With her leading the way, we began offering classes in Spanish every month and also held “Ask a Master Gardener” times where we answered questions in Spanish for the public. With Roxana's help, other Spanish speaking Master Gardeners volunteered at information tables, events and gave presentations. Roxana's enthusiastic personality and genuine interest in growing her own knowledge as a gardener and program ambassador has helped us reach many new audiences! Her genuine desire to make a difference coupled with her knowledge about improving mental and physical health through gardening have made her an invaluable contributor to our Master Gardener program. We look forward to continuing to expand and develop our Spanish language gardening outreach with Roxana and know with her determination she is really “growing” places!!
Let's hear a little bit more about Roxana in her own words!
Hi there!! My name is Roxana Price, and I was asked to describe my experience as a Master Gardener with you. Before
I became a Master Gardener in 2021 through the online course (due to the COVID pandemic). I have to say, if it wasn't for the MG program being offered online at the time, perhaps I would not have been able to achieve such an endeavor, and that to me was the silver lining I needed. (But it would be a lie if I told you I did not miss the in-person interaction.)
Prior to becoming a Master Gardener, I remembered simple things I had learned in school long ago about flowers, seeds, the process of growing plants, and fruits, and vegetables. I realized I had become accustomed to purchasing my fruits, veggies, and plants at grocery stores, not making the connection that I too could grow, plant, harvest my own food. The Master Gardener class provided infinite possibilities and options for my family and me and provided another tool under my belt to better serve the community I work, and live in. Especially my gente (people), the Spanish speaking community, where now I can share evidenced based gardening tips in Spanish to!
Presently, I am experimenting with composting and preparing space for my future vegetable garden. I have learned that planning is key to successful gardening. I have learned to propagate my house plants and have gained a tip or two about proper watering techniques. I am far from being an expert on gardening, but I have discovered that the more I experiment and put what I have learned in the Master Gardener program to practice, the better my garden will be. I love being connected to the Master Gardener community, and the volunteers in it. I have plenty of resources, and plenty of volunteers that are willing to lend a hand or a tip. In addition, I get my “fitbit” steps at the events throughout the San Bernardino community I volunteer at as a Master Gardener and connect with members that, like me, enjoy gardening, and building community.
I look forward to continue to volunteer as a UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener for many years to come. I am also presently enrolled in the Master Food Preserver class. There is No stopping this chica (girl). That is right, I will be able to grow, harvest, and now preserve my own food 2022! I hope my husband is prepared to be the test taster! I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to work, and learn, and play with the San Bernardino UCCE team. I hope that my shared experience inspires the next Master Gardener prospect to become certified Master Gardener too. Hope to see you around the gardening watering hole, peeps!!