Questions And Answers On Home Vegetable Gardening

Lynn asks…

I messed up – do I need to move my vegetable garden?

I am in Memphis, Zone 7. I planted a “Square Foot Garden” (raised bed garden) full of vegetables at my new home. Bell peppers, peas, beans, tomatoes, watermelon, squash, herbs, etc. I thought the spot I chose was full sun. Not sure how I messed this up… It appears my beds are getting only about 3 hours of sun a day, from noon to 3:00. Do I need to move the beds? It won’t be easy, but it is possible before the plants get too big. To think I dug up all that grass underneath them. Sigh. Thank you!

Home Gardener answers:

You do not need to move the beds this year, but 3 hours of direct sunlight will have an impact on the production of your plants. If, after the end of your harvest, you are unsatisfied with the quantity, or the timeliness of your harvest, consider relocating the gardens. Gardening is not a science, but an art, which takes time, effort, and patience, and which produces a tremendous amount of enjoyment, not to mention food.
Good luck.

Susan asks…

What is the most enviro-friendly way to “control” snails in a vegetable garden?

My friend is trying to get her organic garden producing for home use but she is being over-run by snails in the garden bed. My suggestions ranged from a layer of aluminum foil smothered in oil (assuming if they can’t slide theu can’t stick they can’t travel) to upwrite steel barriers covered in oil or honey…..something natural and sticky. Does anyone have a fool-poof and safe way of diverting the attention of snails….?

Home Gardener answers:

There’s a lot of mildly abrasive things people have used to discourage snails – sawdust as mentioned, diatomaceous earth, and wood ashes as other examples. The drawback is that when these items get wet, snails can just glide over them anyway, and, of course, it’s already a moist environment to begin with or snails wouldn’t be there.

I don’t know if it’s environmentally sustainable for everyone to control their snails this way, but snails will NOT cross a band of copper 3″ wide or more. Even copper screening. There’s something about the metal copper than sets up an electrolytic reaction with snail slime, and they quickly turn around and leave, without crossing. I know they used to sell rolls of 3″ wide copper for this purpose (brand name Snail-Barr I think), but I don’t know where now. Doesn’t matter, you could make your own out of any thickness copper sheeting. One way to use this would be by gardening in raised beds, and nail this copper barrier all around the outside of each raised bed. An entire garden could be protected similarly. This is a snail control that lasts forever, once installed.

There’s also a non-toxic snail bait sold, that could be used to eliminate any holdouts after you installed the copper.

I think these items could be purchased from, I’m sure there are many more sources as well.

John asks…

do you have to buy dirt for a vegetable garden?

Can you plant vegetables just into the ground or should you buy special dirt?
If the soil at your home is poisonous should you create a garden for vegetables with purchased dirt in a box with a base?
thanks in advance
sorry! goodness i assumed dirt and soil were one and the same.
things do grow on our SOIL but testing has shown it is poisonous and i dont want to eat infected vegetables from the SOIL/dirt

Home Gardener answers:

You don’t need waste your money for buying waste, you normally get a lot of kitchen waste which is a high quality manure.
Just use this manure in your soil.

Shelley asks…

small black ants in vegetable garden?

Hi! Well I am relatively new to having a garden. We bought a new home and there was an existing garden, approx., 6′ x 6′ . I have cleaned all of the weeds and old herbs etc., out and want to begin planting my stuff. As I dug into the dirt in 2 different locations there are 2 large areas where there are MANY little black ants, which BITE HARD all over. What do I do to get rid of them before I begin planting? What ever I use I want to make sure won’t effect my vegetables . ANY help is greatly appreciated ! thank you SO much, wishing you all a GREAT day! Meegan

Home Gardener answers:

Sprinkle ground with Sevin powder to kill the ants, it is safe for plants.

Chris asks…

D0 any of you Home gardeners know of a good cheap way to support climbing vegetable plants?

My garden space is only 22×10,butting up to the house.I want to plant cucumbers and a couple of different bean plants.

Home Gardener answers:

That’s a big space for just cucumbers and beans. Go grab some old pallets from a store somewhere around you. You can cut them down into many things you can use in the garden. Break them down and you can use the wood for steaks to hold up the beans, you can make a “support” from pieces of pallet and cheap wire for your cucumbers, you can even make raised beds from pieces of pallets. Last year we made our compost bin from pallets my husband got from work. Free wood and a little imagination and you can have a great garden.

Don asks…

What are your priorities in the vegetable garden this week?

I’m hoping to get my beans and courgettes planted out and have some sweetcorn to germinate at home
I’m very new to this having only grown tomatoes in containers before! I’m in London and thought we were past the risk of frost by now – not so?

Home Gardener answers:

We can get frosts in April and May though generally mid May is a good time to start planting. There are lots of other things you can start now and the BBC Gardeners World site has lots of info. I’ve planted seed potatoes, onions and spinach but these are under cloches. You can also buy frost protection fleece quite cheaply from garden centres to protect your plants if the forecast is for frost. My priority is to keep my five cats off the veg bed ! (another reason for the cloches).

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