Gardening Daily Tips June 23

Thursday June 23, 2011

Marigold, Pot (Calendula officinalis)

Today’s Featured Plant
Marigold, Pot (Calendula officinalis)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Tips on Growing Okra

Question: I’m trying to find more info on the best growing conditions for okra, but having no luck. What are the best soil conditions for okra? How often would you recommend fertilizing?

Answer: Okra is best planted directly into the ground into light well drained loam with plenty of organic matter. They should be grown in full sun. They should be fertilized three times: after they have been thinned, when the start producing fruit, and midway into their growing season. Okra can get tall up to 5′ so they are not good for container growing–unless your container is very large. They also feed with surface roots so mulch to both keep down weeds and retain moisture.

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Q&A: Growing Vegetables In Shallow Deck Planter

Question: I built a small deck planter at the top and bottom of our deck railing. The planters are about 5 inches deep, about 4 inches across and about 16 feet long. I would like to grow vegetables in the planter but I am concerned about root growth since the depth of the dirt is only about 5 inches. Will tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers grow in such shallow soil? Are there other vegetables that might grow better? The bottom planter would even support vines growing on the bannisters.

Answer: Unfortunately, the larger the plant the more root run is needed. In general, a five gallon bucket or even a half whiskey barrel is a better size for a husky tomato plant. Your planters might support some of the smaller leaf lettuces and early greens, radishes and probably a number of different herbs, but I think they are going to dry out too quickly to keep tomatoes and green peppers (and especially those water-loving cukes) happy. You might try a little experimenting with some of the smaller compact varieties intended for patio containers, along with using a waterholding polymer mixed into the potting soil, especially if you don’t have an automatic watering system.

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Q&A: Mixing Pesticide Sprays

Question: Can I add insecticidal soap to a fungicide spray such as sulfur, so I can “kill two birds with one stone,” so to speak? Or must they be used separately?

Answer: It’s not a good idea to mix pesticides. There might be a chemical reaction between the compounds, or the combination could be phytotoxic (react with the sun to burn leaf surfaces). Be sure to identify the cause of any problems you are having, then choose the proper pesticide for the job, following label directions carefully. There are some commercial mixes available; these have been tested for safety.

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Tip: The Best Time to Harvest

The time of day vegetables are harvested makes a difference in their flavor. For the highest sweetness, pick peas and sweet corn late in the day when sugar content is high. Other vegetables, such as lettuce and cucumbers, are crisper and tastier when harvested early in the morning.

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Tip: Use Well-Designed Hand Tools

Make your time in the garden more efficient by using high quality, ergonomically designed tools. These tools reduce strain on your hands, wrists, and back. If you find a specific garden task particularly painful, there should be a tool to make the job easier.

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Submit Your Favorite Photos

Send your favorite pictures to the ArcaMax Photo Galleries.

It’s a great way to share your best photos with friends and family, and other readers can vote to make your photo the best of the month!

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— From the ArcaMax editors

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