Vegetables do best when growth is consistent through the season, not slowing and speeding up due to environmental conditions. You can’t control the weather, but you can help provide consistent conditions by irrigating when rainfall is lacking. Most vegetables need 1-1.5” of water a week.
Side-dressing is an appropriate way to fertilize vegetables during the growing season. To side-dress a plant, sprinkle granulated fertilizer around the plant, about 6 to 8 inches from the stem, or put the fertilizer in a narrow furrow down the row of plants. Follow carefully the instructions on the fertilizer package. Too much fertilizer will harm the plant, and too little will not give you the desired results.
September and November are the two best times to fertilize a lawn in Indiana. Fall nitrogen promotes good root development, enhances storage of energy reserves, and extends color retention in cool-season lawns. Most of the benefits from late fall nitrogen will be seen next spring and summer.
You can plant vegetables in long slender rows, in squares, or in any other shape that makes sense in your garden. Tall plants should be on the north side of the garden so they don’t shade their shorter neighbors. The correct spacing will give your vegetables room to grow.
Pruning fruit trees is essential for healthy and productive trees. Not all fruit species grow the same way. Once the trees are mature enough to flower and bear fruit, apples, pears, cherries and plums generally tend to produce the best crop on wood that is 2-3 years of age. However, peaches tend to produce best on 1-year- old wood. So, the goal in pruning the home orchard is to keep a good amount of the appropriate-age wood for that particular species. Late March is an ideal time for fruit tree pruning, allowing time to assess the toll of winter, yet early enough to allow for fast healing of wounds, without pressure from insect pests or disease.
Trees can be chosen for energy efficiency as well as for beauty. In Indiana, the best choices for trees near the house on southern exposures are deciduous-canopy trees. Since deciduous trees lose their leaves in the autumn, these will provide shade in the summer but will not block out the warming effects of the sun during winter months.
When choosing annual or perennial flowering plants, pay close attention to the amount of sun needed. Sun-loving plants that are placed in the shade tend to be spindly, and shade-loving plants that are placed in the sun often become scorched by the heat.
Many plants found in Indiana gardens are not native to Indiana. Be careful not to introduce non- native plants that can spread aggressively. Such invasive plants eventually disturb the natural ecology. A list of invasive plants to avoid in Indiana is found at www.ppdl.purdue.edu.
Vegetables, flowers, and herbs may be annuals, biennials, or perennials. Annuals live for one year, and often produce seeds that can be planted the next year. Biennials live for two years, producing only leaves in the first year and flowers and seeds in the second year. Perennials live for more than two years.