Mailbag: Your Gardening Questions Answered

Vegetables

We love to get feedback from our readers! Here at Heirloom Solutions, each week we receive many letters. We do our very best to respond to each one personally. Some folks send us questions and others like to share their gardening ideas and experiences. Why don’t you drop us a line, too? Send us your gardening questions, recipes, pictures, and ideas to editor@heirloomsolutions.com and we’ll do our very best to get back to you right away.

Here’s the latest edition of our Reader Mailbag…

Q: How often do I need to water my plants?

A: This is possibly the most frequent question we get. And the answer is very simple: Water your plants when they need it. You’ll know when to water if you stick a finger in the soil to check for dryness. This is the very best way to know if a plant needs water. People like schedules, but Mother Nature doesn’t always follow a strict schedule.

I can tell you that most veggies in the garden, on average, like an inch of water each week (or slightly more). When water doesn’t fall from the sky, you’ll have to supply it yourself one way or another. But please take caution! Overwatering your plants can be just as deadly to them as a lack of water. That’s why my best advice is to have you check the soil and water it gently when it is dry … no more, no less. Keep in mind that containers and raised beds typically need to be watered more frequently than plants that are rooted in the ground. This is because their roots are more contained in a small space and the soil will dry out faster.

Q: What is the best way to keep grass from getting in my flower and vegetable beds?

A: Grass is a sneaky plant, that’s for sure. It can grow over or under almost anything. One of the best ways to keep grass out of your beds is to dig a trench around the gardening bed that is at least 8 inches deep. After digging, you can fill this space with gravel, rock or leave it alone. Some gardeners like to put in a pretty landscape edging to make it more visually appealing. The trench method is not foolproof, and you’ll need to deal with grass and weeds as you see them spring up. But it is a good start and will work well if you maintain it over the season.

Q:  How can I save money? Gardening can be expensive…

A:  One of the very best ways to save money in the garden is to start your plants from seed instead of buying overpriced transplants. Yes, transplants are convenient and may save you some time in the long run, but they are also much more expensive when you do the math. You can literally plant seeds for just fractions of pennies on the dollar, where a single transplant can cost you $3 or more for a single plant, depending on what variety it is!

This past week I was cruising our local farmers market (as I like to do) and I noticed that some heirloom tomato transplants are selling for $4.99 a piece! You could buy an entire packet of seed for that price and end up with hundreds of your own plants to use, give away, or even sell yourself. Starting seeds or direct sowing is a little bit more work, but it is also more economical and it’s fun. I find gardening from seed to be more personally rewarding than buying a transplant and sticking it in the ground.

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