Plant organic summer vegetables to obtain fresh harvest straight from your garden. Cucurbits (Pumpkin, Cucumber, Squash, Bitter gourd, Bottle gourd), Tomato, Brinjal, French Bean, Capsicum & ladyfinger are sown in various parts of India, while in hilly regions, specifically, Lettuce, Garlic, French bean, Peas, Brinjal, Spinach, Capsicum, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, & Beetroots can be grown. Just make sure plant seeds only after the last frost passes.
How to grow?
Before sowing, soak seeds in the water and check for any floating ones. Discard them, and keep the remaining seeds for 10-12 hours. After this, strain the healthy seeds from the water with the help of a sieve. Place the sieve in a big container and cover it with a plate so that the seeds remain moistened. Leave it overnight for better germination.
- Raise seedlings of Tomato, Capsicum, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts & Brinjal in a gardening tray filled with cocopeat.
- For growing seedlings of Cucurbits (Pumpkin, Squashes, Bitter gourd, Bottle gourd & Cucumber), use a single disposal cup filled with cocopeat for one seed. The roots of cucurbit vegetables are delicate, so be careful while removing them for transplantation as there are high chances that roots could get damaged. Avoid this problem by using a single cup. When the seedling of cucurbits is ready for transplanting in a bigger container, then along with the disposal cup, put the seedling in the pot/container. With a scissor, make a side cut in the disposal cups to remove them. In this way, your seedlings are protected from damage.
- Fill the gardening tray/disposal cups with moist cocopeat. Uniformly level the soil with hands, do not compress it too much, and then scatter the seeds thickly and evenly. As not all seeds germinate successfully, plant more seeds than you need. Gently press the seeds, and place a thin layer of soil over them. Provide light misting to the seeds. Cover the growing tray with a lid or transparent plastic wrap. Wait for the seeds to germinate for one to two days; after that make sure to remove the lid or plastic wrap from the tray.
- Seedlings of these veggies will be ready for transplanting in a separate container (filled with vegetable potting mix) after 31-35 days when two-three true leaves (Real leaves of the plant) forms.
- Beans, Ladyfinger, Garlic, Lettuce, Spinach, Peas & Beetroot are directly sown in the vegetable potting mix. Their seedlings are not raised separately.
Choose the right type of container for roof/terrace/container gardening:
- Grow determinate varieties of tomato if you’re growing tomatoes in pots. For determinate Tomatoes, the ideal pot size is 18-inch diameter and for indeterminate Tomatoes, 24-inch diameter in sized pots is suitable. Ladyfinger has a deep taproot system, so look for a 20-litre container for normal variety and a 15-litre container for a dwarf variety.
- For other veggies, choose containers that are at least 10 inches wide and 12-14 inches deep.
- You can also use smaller pots for growing vegetables, but in that case, you may get a comparatively lower yield.
- Light: Keep your plants in direct sunlight. If you are living in a warm tropical climate, where sunlight is too strong, then provide some afternoon shade to the plants.
- Water: Watering is the most important thing to do in your vegetable garden. Check by sticking the finger in the soil, if it’s dry, it’s time to water to prevent plants from wilting. It is best to water in the morning time. Avoid watering in the afternoon time, as this can scratch plant leaves. Water until it flows from the bottom of the container. Make sure, you never overwater the plants.
- Provide support to climbing vegetables: Grow vegetables such as Beans, Squashes, Gourds, Cucumber, Pumpkin and tall varieties of Tomato near the walls and railings. In this way, they will not only get support but also grow upside and you can save a lot of space. Plants that grow tall or produce vines grow well with support in the container.
- Fertilizers: If you are growing vegetables in a container, then check if your potting soil contains some amount of manure/vermicompost/compost. If not, then mix 20% of vermicompost in the soil before planting. If you are growing veggies in the ground, then mix some vermicompost with the garden soil before planting. After a month, you can additionally apply liquid organic fertilizers; then again use Epsom salt for better flowering and healthy fruiting. For long-duration crops, fertilizer can be again applied after 2 months of planting.
- Look for disease/ insect pest: No matter how much you will care for your vegetable garden, pests find their way to harm your veggies. Use natural pesticides for example, neem oil to control pest infection. You can use it one month after planting as a protective spray.
- Weeding: Keep an eye on weeds. Regularly remove them.
Shashi Agarwal & Shalini Sharma