Those lovely broccoli florets grow well during the cooler time of the growing season. You can get 2-3 crops from them by harvesting early in the spring, then late in the summer, and into the fall if it is not too cold.
Like most of your other vegetables, they need fertile soil, so be sure the area is well composted. Add some diatomaceous earth, because of root maggots. Broccoli does not do well in nitrogen rich soil. Although the growing of clover as a ground cover helps fix nitrogen in the soil, benefitting most crops, broccoli is oversensitive to it. So keep clover away from it.
Broccoli enjoys full sun. The soil needs to be well drained also, as it may get droopy leaves otherwise. Remember, though, broccoli needs constant moisture. This vegetable needs to be rotated each year.
Use floating row covers on them once they’re tall enough, as a precaution. Be sure to keep the area mulched, as the roots are shallow and you don’t want your little dears to be flattened by a vicious downpour. When the weather first turns warm, those noted “button heads” would form.
Common Problems and Pest Control
Plants may have to be shifted around, if they are too crowded in the beginning stages.
Cabbageworms are the worst of the broccoli pests, but they can be washed or handpicked off. When I first encountered them, I tore out in a murderous rage armed with a hose and drowned them! There were NO survivors!
Of course it is necessary to check your garden daily. Cabbageworms and caterpillar of other species frequently come up at night all at once! That sure makes it easier to get rid of them all at once too! Flea beetles are also a nuisance, but if you took the precaution of using floating row covers, that will take care of that problem. The diatomaceous earth also aids in preventing the arrival of cabbage maggots from the ground. Broccoli also sometimes has aphids that can be washed off. In severe cases, use Nicotine sulfate, which is approved by organic societies.
Tomatoes are a gardening favorite for most regions. They are far sweeter than the store-bought varieties! These red boys love to grow in rich compost that is slightly acidic. To raise the acidity level of your soil, use sulfur. Organic societies approve of the use of soil sulfur because it is found in organic matter. Yellowstone Brand Elemental Sulfur (aka “split pea” sulfur) is one of the brands that is totally organic.
Many people have had success in raising tomatoes from young plants sold at their local nursery. I trust these, as they have become established. If you are the patient sort, start them out very early in spring from seed.
Common Tomato varieties:
Most grow extremely well in raised beds, and you will need to tie up the plants, as they grow taller. The advantage of the raised beds is the fact that the plants don’t “drown” when you have those vicious rainstorms!
Common Problems and Organic Pest Control
One of the most common problems occurs with cracking of the skin. The inside of the tomato is still growing, while the skin has completed its growth. The skin therefore cracks. Watering them evenly from one day to the next can alleviate this. It helps the skin become more pliable and it will stretch more. You will always have some cracking at the tops of Beefsteak tomatoes, however. I prefer cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes because their skins are less likely to crack.
As with all your crops, keep the area weeded. I have found, however, that a particular weed grows alongside my tomato plants. It closely resembles the tomato plants until it grows taller. I have dubbed it “tomato weed”! This mimicry is a little trick Mother Nature plays on gardeners sometimes.
Diatomaceous earth should be added to the soil base. It helps prevent the laying of eggs by the disease-carrying flying insects. The larvae of these menaces are the hornworms (or other caterpillar species).
Hornworms are nasty-looking critters. If you are attentive to your garden you can pick them off. Put them in soapy water, not on the ground! Some organic products are also sold for this: Safer Garden Dust and Monterey Insect Spray. (the insect is the adult form of the hornworm)