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Buddy Waters: 8 tips for novice gardeners to think about

Published on Friday, April 27, 2012

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Michele Peek and Curtis Snyder were sharing information on their garden plots today. Michele was loosening some dirt and weeding. Curtis was discussing fertilization. 

Michele Peek and Curtis Snyder were sharing information on their garden plots today. Michele was loosening some dirt and weeding. Curtis was discussing fertilization. 



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One of the novice master gardener tips from master gardener Buddy Waters is to consider the use of straw and newspaper for mulching.

One of the novice master gardener tips from master gardener Buddy Waters is to consider the use of straw and newspaper for mulching.

BY BUDDY WATERS
Master Gardener 

I rolled the dice and lost this year.  I planted my garden March 15 and proudly announced that I thought I had beaten the frost.  On April 12 a hailstorm left me with a half acre of bare dirt and empty tomato cages.  So much for outsmarting Mother Nature.  We replanted on April 20 and I saw the first sprouts this morning.  The tomatoes survived two near misses with frost, and we're on our way.

The Community Garden suffered some frost damage over the weekend of April 13-15.  A few tomato plants lost their top leaves, but most things survived.  We should be safe now if there is no more hail.

The rain has been plentiful. The 50 plots look healthy and well cared for.

Things to think about for novice gardeners:

 1.  Now is the time for the first fertilization.  Use 10-10-10 sparingly, about a quarter cup for plants, kept well away from the stem.  Sprinkle alongside the rows (side dress) small amounts.  Remember, the fertilizer is not selective.  It feeds the weeds too.

2.  Be diligent about weeding.  It is much easier to pull weeds in the morning and after a rain.  Consider mulching with newspaper and straw.

3.  Keeps your plot clean.  Replace dead or badly damaged plants. Fill in voids in your rows where seeds did not sprout.

4.  Now is a good time to stake or cage your tomatoes, cucumbers and other climbing plants.

5.  Keep the soil loose with your hoe, being careful not to damage the plants.  Loose soil promotes root growth and water content.

6.  Be vigilant about wilting plants.  Wind takes more moisture than the sun.  If you see stress in your plant ... water, but not too much.

7.  Watch for insects.  Many species like tender leaves.  If you see holes in leaves, wilted plants, etc., treat with a little Sevin Dust or insecticidal soap.

8.  Have fun, and help somebody in the garden today.  Talk to your fellow gardeners.  There is much to learn from shared experience.

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