Houzz Logo Print

New gardener, vegetable garden questions

17 years ago

I've been piddling around with a garden in our tiny backyard for a few years now and am finally getting serious about it. So far my garden journal is mostly a recounting of what failed/died, but this year if I can figure out something's not working early enough to change it, I want to.

My questions:

1. I planted potatoes on April 23 per directions. These were fully sprouted supermarket potatoes. I figured that even if they had a sprout inhibitor on them, it obviously hadn't worked, so they should be fine. But here it is May 9, 16 days later, and the potato parts look exactly as they did when I put them in the ground. I haven't actually dug any of them up, but I can see the sprout tops that were poking out for a couple. They've been watered and it's rained... Are they dead? Should I get something else to plant there? Or are potatoes just real slow to do anything obvious?

2. This year I tried starting some corn indoors. Having never done that before, I used about half compost and half potting soil. Only about 25% of the corn has come up and that took quite a while (though I'm not using gro-lights and they're on an enclosed back porch with southern exposure). The seed was new and fresh. Is this normal? Will the rest come up soon? I seem to be having a lot of trouble keeping the starter cups consistently moist but not wet. I water them in the morning and by the time I get back from work they're bone dry and dusty (at least on top, for the first 1/2 inch - I don't dig around deeper than that). Should I just chuck the starter cup stuff and seed into the ground with the other half of the seed pack I have left?

3. I couldn't stand it - I had to buy and plant tomatoes, basil and peppers even though it's probably too early. If it turns off chilly (under 50) in the next few days, what's the best way for me to protect the plants? They're already in the ground. Five tomatoes, three peppers and two basil plants.

4. I had a soil analysis done by the U of MN extension. They said my soil pH was 7.4. I took the samples and sent them in before I amended with compost this spring. I put about 12 cubic feet of compost onto 100 square feet of vegetable garden space. How likely is it that I need to add sulfur or work in pine needle mulch to get good growth? Last year the only thing I changed from the year before was adding compost and it made a huge difference.

5. Does anyone have any suggestions for rotating crops in a really small garden, like 100' square feet? Until recently, I didn't know it was a problem to put the same crop in the same place year after year and so I have been putting tomatoes in the same place for five years now, figuring I'd found a "good spot" for them since they were doing well. Now of course I've planted my potatoes in the best place to rotate the tomatoes into and I also read that tomatoes shouldn't follow potatoes. Other than simply not growing one or the other next year, does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking I might just expand the garden a lot and put tomatoes into the new part, but that will be an expensive and difficult undertaking.

Comments (11)