Vegetable Garden Maintenance

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

Eating freshly picked vegetables throughout the season is one of summer's greatest gifts. But achieving a successful garden takes much planning and strategy. There are so many things to consider -- choosing which vegetables to plant, deciding where to place them in your garden -- to make sure your soil is healthy. Once that is all figured out and your garden is planted, your work has just begun. Here are some maintenance tips that one of Martha's gardeners, Erica Hanson, uses to make sure the garden is a success.

1. Maintain crops by staking when necessary, feeding, and watering -- the basic things that plants need to produce a good harvest.

2. Use an organic approach to prevent potato beetles from feeding on your foliage -- hill up the plants with salt marsh hay. This will disguise the plant and hopefully divert beetles from your potato crop.

3. Use beautiful black birch branches called pea brush to provide structure for your pea plants. With a twiggy skeletal structure that allows the pea plants to kind of climb up and through the branches, black birch allows the pea plant to naturally anchor themselves to the branches, positioning perfectly for picking when the time is right.

4. Because the tomato plant is essentially a vine, be sure that it has secure support. You can build tomato tripods out of 8-foot-long bamboo stakes -- attach a bamboo twine from the top to a landscape pin and push it into the base of the bamboo stake to make sure that its taut, straight, and has enough tension to hold up the tomato plant.

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