Looking to 2018’s garden

Now is the time to be looking at successes and failures in the 2017 vegetable garden.  You can plan ahead now to increase yields next year.  Especially for spring and summer crops, an activity that will pay dividends is to make simple notes about the health, vigor, productivity and size of each plant grouping in the garden.


Healthy plants produce healthy crops.  Good soil amendment in the fall before planting or in early spring with aged manure and compost help to reduce the need for added fertilizers during the growing season.  Creating a growing environment that allows for adequate drying of the foliage and stems of the plants is always helpful to reduce the potential for diseases.  Trellicing, pruning and proper spacing are good techniques in this regard, as they allow for increased air flow and reduce the soil surface to crop contact.

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When plants become sickly, it may be due to an insect or disease, but could be caused by a non-living factor as well.  Jumping to a conclusion that an insecticide or fungicide must be applied can be problematic by adding unnecessary and potentially harmful materials into the environment.


When faced with an unknown malady, it’s wise to take the time to research the situation by contacting the Nebraska Extension office in Douglas and Sarpy counties at 402 444-7804 or by searching the web for a land grant university by using “.edu” at the end of your search phrase.  If a pest is the culprit, determining the need for a pest control agent or threshold of injury is a good first step after identifying the actual pest involved.  If just a few insects are involved, perhaps hand removal is a better approach than spraying the entire garden with an insecticide.  If the level of infestation is greater, determining the best timing for an application is important as well as which product will produce the best results with the least impact on the environment is certainly a good agricultural practice.   Finally, reading the pesticide label is always a good practice, noting instructions such as timing, rate, application technique, which crops can be sprayed with the product and which ones can’t and the time between application

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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