Roots 'n' Shoots: Garden Guidelines: Rules for all plants & seasons

Garden Guidelines: Rules for all plants & seasons

Guidelines to happy, healthy vegetables & fruits:

 ü  Vegetables and fruits require a certain amount of sunlight

            All vegetables and fruits require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to be healthy and crop well.

ü  Water plants @ their stems

This is important to prevent some diseases from infecting the leaves of plants and constant moisture on the leaves helps this along, especially for

-          Squash and cucumber: Can quickly be overwhelmed by Powdery Mildew
-          Eggplants: Becomes infected by Pearl Millet Rust

ü  Feed/Fertilise plant @ least during curtail development stages

During certain developmental stages plant do well with a nutrient top-up, especially when

-         Young plant: Two weeks after germination or planting as the roots have now become established and the plant will to well with a boost for growing.
-         Flowers start: When plants start flowering it is a good queue to give another boost, one with extra potassium will go down well J
-         Fruits start: This is the stage that sucks the most nutrients and you want large yummy produce then give another good high potassium feeding
-        When fruits ripen: After the plant has been trained (especially tomatoes, peppers and eggplants) the fruit will start to ripen (1-2 months after fruiting started and fruits have set). Just to assist with the ripening stage and to ensure the plant doesn’t get short on nutrient another high potassium feed will be beneficial

TIP: For a quick-and-dirty fertilise guide; feed all actively growing plants every two weeks with liquid fertiliser. The results are well worth it! Check out Composting, Vermicompost and Comfrey for liquid feed ideas.

ü  Cut fruits/vegetables from the plant stems

Pulling fruits, leaves or vegetables from their host plant may result in damage to the plant as certain fruits do not yield easily

-        Tomatoes should just pop off their stems when ripe, but I prefer to cut them off just to be safe
-        Ripe raspberries (deep gummy appearance) will come off easily when pulled gently
-        Fruits that do not yield easily and which pulling on will result in damaged to the plants are beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and eggplant (watch out for those thorns!), so rather snip them off with scissors

ü  Support plants with stakes

All plants do well with additional support

-        Prevents damage during excessive rain or wind
-        Prevents damage from carrying heavy fruit that might break branches
-        More of the plant’s energy is focused into fruit production rather than strengthening branches for fruit support (tomatoes especially require training)

ü  Prune all plants

The importance of pruning is understated in any gardening book

-        3D: It is good to start off pruning with the 3 D’s; Dead, diseased and damaged parts must go!
-        Pruning and training go hand-in-hand and is essential for fruit trees and shrubs to produce prolifically and reliably

ü  Treat/control disease and pests as soon as they are noticed

The best way to successful inhalation of pest or disease populations is to get them while they are small and weak (usually during spring). This will prevent or lessen the re-occurrence of these pests later in the season.

-        A small infestation or infection is quick and easy to treat and will be less effort, time and spraying later
-        If not treated when they are still controllable the population will soon explode (keep in mind that generation time for pests and disease are a lot faster than ours! New pest babies can be generated within a few weeks!)
-        It is also essential to be thorough than quick, as any remaining pests/disease can start up again and become a nuisance later in the season, so do those repeat treatments after 2-3 days (I know that it is a pain! J).For environmentally friendly controls.
-        Check on plants (especially the fruits) weekly for any signs of infestation or infection.

ü  Good soil = healthy plants

Soil quality is very important not only for general plant health

-        Fruit/vegetable production benefits from proper soil or a good feeding routine
-        Nutrition content of foods harvested from the garden will be superior
-        Plants are more resistant to pest and disease (remember potassium is not just for flower and fruit production, but also for plant resistance!)

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  1. Hi. Should my Bougenvillia be protected against frost in Bloemfontein? I planted 3 and they don't seem to be doing very well. Thanks

  2. My ornamental knowledge is not as up to scratch as my edible food plants - but Bougainvilleas are tropical plants and should get frost protection. Our frost comes around August in SA, but we are having a cold front at the moment with a frosty wind. Your newly planted ones will be more sensitive to conditions under 4oC especially with a frosty wind. Some garden/frost fleece should keep them safe until Spring, you can wrap it around them and maybe loosely secure it at the base of the plants with some twine. Just be careful with frost fleece and strong winds as they tend to become like sails and may flop about resulting in plant damage - loosely securing them should minimise this :)

    Hope that helps! Good luck!


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