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Caring for the Midsummer Vegetable Garden

Martha Stewart Living Television

After the planting, seed sowing, and continuous watering and weeding of your vegetable garden, there are still a few other tasks that require your attention. As the vegetables mature, some will need to be trained, pruned, and staked, while others will require thinning. Each of these tasks has positive effects on the health and yield of your vegetables.

Tomato plants, for example, will bear fruit throughout the season if cared for properly. Building structures for the plants to grow onto, such as sturdy bamboo stakes set in a tepee formation, save space in the garden and improve air circulation around the plant, in turn preventing disease. Sink the poles about one foot into the garden bed, and tie the tops together very tightly with twine. Each stake serves as support for one plant, and the structure itself will last for several seasons. As the vines ascend the stake, the plant receives better sun exposure and simplifies harvesting. Check the tomatoes frequently, and tie in new growth with twine, knotting loosely so as not to impede further growth.

When the plants are young, offshoots from the tomato's main branch, called suckers, begin to emerge from the leaf crotches. These can be pruned off or even simply twisted off with your fingers to keep the plant's vitality centered in the main stem.

Root crops, such as carrots and beets, may need to be thinned to encourage healthy root development. Carrot seeds, for instance, are so tiny that sowing them correctly spaced from the start is difficult. When the seedlings are big enough, some of the crop should be removed to make room for the rest. The distance required between each vegetable varies from type to type; seed packets provide information on what is appropriate.

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