Good cultural practices include providing plants the best possible growing situation: proper spacing, staking or trellising, watering, sanitation, mulching, fertilization and general maintenance practices.

index clip image002 0001Staking and Trellising:  Some of your vegetables can grow 5 or 6 feet and therefore will need a form asupport. There are many methods you can use as well as specific supports you can purchase to insure your plants are supported properly. Any of your vining plants can be trained on a support to grow vertically. Proper support is also good for air circulation; while keeping fruits off the ground can help prevent insect, disease and animal damage.

Watering:  Most vegetables like a regular supply of moisture, but not so much that they are standing in water. About an inch of water per week is usually sufficient, provided by you if environmental factors (rain) fails to come. Water when the top inch of soil is dry. For in-ground plants, that may mean watering once or twice a week. Raised beds and containers dry faster and may require watering every day. Water effectively; be sure water is getting to the roots of the plants. Try to keep excess moisture off the leaves.  If you must overhead water, do it in the early morning so that the plant can dry.
 
Weed Control and Mulching:  Weed control is part of sanitation. Keeping your garden free of weeds is important; weeds compete with your plants for valuable nutrients. Consider usingMAIZE® Weed PreventerBonide's Maize to stop weed seeds from germinating. Mulching your vegetable garden will not only help with moisture retention, but it will keep your weeds down. The control of weeds with mulch is a good cultural practice, and mulch also contributes to plant health by moderating soil temperatures and conserving moisture. Consider using compost as mulch; or you can use straw, pine needles, or plastic. You can minimize your insect and disease problems by practicing cultural controls such as building good soil and properly maintaining your vegetable garden. Also, harvest your vegetables in a timely manner and pull out any finished crops. Don't expect perfection; but be vigilant and on the lookout for problems before they start.