Elevated Gardens

By Sarah Ransom

While gardens are very popular in Johnson County, it is essential to take proper care of your garden and to manage it well so that
you can reap bountiful harvests all summer and early fall. Growing some of
your food at home can be a big saver. Take full advantage of these benefits of home gardens – there are some helpful things to know when it comes to gardening besides planting, watering and getting adequate sunlight.
The first is weed management. Weeds take your
crops water, nutrients
and can block out sunlight. Weeds also can attract
insects or hold diseases
that are harmful to your plants.
Annual weeds, germinate, grow, mature, produce seeds and die all in the same season. Perennial weeds typically live for three years or longer; these can be the most challenging.
Prevention is the best way to manage weeds that
appear. Most methods are meant to reduce weeds
over time. Mulching is a process of covering the sur
face of the soil; this helps reduce weed pressure, maintain moisture and moderate temperatures; depending on the type of mulch, you can also improve soil structure. Using solarization is a process of using plastic to trap the sun’s radiation and heat the soil to kill off annual weeds.
Row spacing, and how
you are planting is another way to combat weeds.
Crops like beets, radishes
or lettuce can be planted close together to cover the ground and prevent weeds from being able to grow there. Placing cover crops at the end of the season can help smother and cover the ground to prevent weed growth.
You can also use hand or machine weed management techniques that include hand pulling, hoeing, tilling, and spraying. These can be effective in the short term process, but they are also time-consuming. The amount of water can also affect plants; it is estimated that garden crops need 1-1.5 inches per week of water.
There is much more information about various mulching methods and types, weed management, watering techniques and more in the article Plant Management Practices. Information for this article came from this resource. Visit www.extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W346-D.pdf