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ECQ and the gardener in you

/ 04:08 AM April 25, 2020

Happy Earth Day! This week, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Fifty years ago, 20 million people took to the streets for the sake of the environment. This year, the environment is healing on its own thanks to millions who are staying home and helping curb the spread of COVID-19 and in the process, clearing the air from pollutants and other gaseous elements.

As we enter the second of phase of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), our home is now our precious environment. Apart from having more time to do some spring-cleaning, gardening may be an incredibly rewarding hobby to get into. It can be daunting at first but you can start a small vegetable garden planting fast growing crops.

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Picking a good location for your garden is absolutely key. A sub-par location can result in sub-par veggies. Here are a few tips for choosing a good site.

1 Plant in a sunny location. Most vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. There are a few veggies that will tolerate some shade.

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2 Plant in moist, well-drained soil. If you have poorly drained soil (water pools), plant veggies in a raised bed. If you have rocky soil, till and remove the rocks.

3 Plant in a stable environment. Avoid places that receive strong winds which could knock over your young plants or keep pollinators from doing their job. Nor do you want to plant in a location that receives too much foot traffic or floods easily.

4 Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

5 Make sure that you have paths that allow you to access your plants to weed and harvest. Make sure that you can easily reach the center of the row or bed.After finding a suitable area to start a garden, make sure that the soil has enough nutrients to support healthy growth and has the right texture to encourage germination. In most cases all that’s needed to prepare the ground is to sprinkle organic fertilizer before raking the soil surface to a fine tilt.

For a beginner gardener, it’s satisfying to see vegetables grow quickly. For greens and radishes, you can harvest the leafy greens within two to three weeks. Just leave a few plants to grow to their full size for a bigger harvest later. Growing different crops in containers offers flexibility and is great for small spaces. Some crops however are more suited than others. Tomatoes, for example, need plenty of nutrients and consistent moisture. Use a potting mix that includes loam, which will help it hold moisture longer.

Bush tomatoes and smaller tumbling varieties are best for pots and hanging baskets. They don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow. Plant a few marigolds with your tomatoes for color and to help repel aphids and other insects.

Closely related eggplant and peppers also grow well in containers. Shallow-rooted salad leaves are quick and easy to grow and make perfect container crops. Harvest the whole plant all at once, or pick leaves as needed over several weeks.

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There are lots of different kinds of salad leaves with a range of leaf shapes, colors, flavors and textures—from lettuce to arugula, mizuna and mustard. Carrots are best grown in tall containers to keep them out of reach of the low-flying carrot fly.

This time of the year is the best time to sow seeds. Mix the tiny seeds with sand to help space them out as you sow, and thin out seedlings after they’ve germinated to give them enough space. Remember to also harvest the biggest roots first and allow smaller ones to continue to grow for longer.

Raised garden beds help grow more plants in less space. To ensure a bountiful harvest in a limited space, lay out your garden plot with the fence, trellis, or wall at the north side. By planting the tallest plants there, you will avoid shading the smaller ones. Vining plants, if left to sprawl, take up valuable space in a small garden, so help them grow up.

For pretty colorful plant containers and plants for sale, check out the Casa Collective Home. For more information, call +639176260790. Let’s all help make this a greener and better world.

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