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End of May or early June: harvesting and freshening up your boxes

Summer is in the air and the garden is growing like crazy. You've harvested so much that the first vegetable patches are looking pretty empty. So: time to refresh your soil mix and add nutrients to your garden. 
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Add some MM-Plantfood to refresh the soil mix
The end of May and early June mean overflowing garden boxes. Big heads of lettuce crowding each other, sometimes more than you can eat.

Here are some tips for caring for your garden when summer's around the corner.

Empty vegetable patches

Harvesting means that your square patches get emptier and emptier. When you harvest all your radishes, you're left with a bald spot. 

Maybe last year’s parsley has gone to flower or the arugola is too big and is starting to taste bitter.
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Arugola grows too big and will start to bloom
The trick is not to dwell on goodbyes. Just harvest what you still want and get down to business: empty that patch.

Remove the plants - roots and all - and loosen up the soil mix all the way to the bottom of the box. 

Then add a scoop of MM-Plantfood so your new plants get enough nutrients.

You can read more about MM-Plantfood here and why we use that instead of other kinds of compost.

Second round and sowing right away

Heb je de voeding weer aangevuld, dan zaai je meteen weer wat nieuws in het vak.

Gebruik je de app dan geeft die je de beste keuze.

Gebruik je die niet, dan kies je een andere plantenfamilie dan die er eerst stond. Dus uit een zakje met een ander kleurtje. Komt dat niet uit, dan moet je er ook niet al te moeilijk over doen. Zie het als richtlijn, niet als wet 😉
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A freshly sown lettuce patch

Taking care of your plants

Taking care of your plants in our garden boxes is a breeze and takes almost no time. It boils down to this:

Watering

Water once a day if needed.

Ideally, you water the base of the plants to get right to the roots. You not only save a lot of water, but the rest of the patch won’t get too soggy. That means fewer snails and slugs.

Keeping a bucket by your garden box is super handy. And, the sun warms up the water a little. The plants like lukewarm water best.
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Fill a little deli container from a bucket
Plants don't like ice cold water, but water that is too hot will kill them.

So, take care if you use a garden hose on a hot day. The stagnant water inside can quickly get above 30°C. Check the temperature before watering your plants

You can read more about watering here.
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A garden hose gets hot in the sun

Room to grow

Give your plants enough space and stick to the distances recommended in the app and on the seed packets. You sow just a couple of seeds per hole usually. A few seedlings will come up, but for many vegetables, you’ll only need one per hole. The rest you have to thin out. 

I know, it's tough. But if you don’t do it, the plants will start competing with each other for light, nutrients, and water. They won’t do as well if they’re crowded together. They literally need room to grow.

And yes, it will look a bit bare at first:
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Plats growing at the right distance from each other
And when you see a weed, get rid of it right away. I usually grab them with my thumb and pointer finger. Sometimes I loosen up the soil mix with a fork afterward.

Plants that don't understand boundaries

Some vegetables grow so well that they push their neighbors aside. Parsley, chives, and lettuce for example, and later in the year, chard.

And what about that winter purslane:
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Winterpostelein: nu te groot voor het vak
The solution is: harvest a lot, even if you don’t think you can eat it all. You can use almost anything in green smoothies, soups, and summer stews. Or give them away and make your own neighbors happy 🙂

And if you're over it, just empty your square patch partly or completely:
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Harvesting all the winter purslane in one go
If the lettuce gets too big, I harvest the heads one by one.
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Overcrowded lettuce heads
I'll harvest the remaining heads in the next couple days:
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Tomorrow, you guys are next

Keep things tidy

As your plants grow, remove any weeds right away. Remove busted-looking, yellow, or dry leaves too: they're food for fungi. They also can attract slugs and other pests.

Support your tall plants and climbers

Help climbers like snow peas and pole beans find their way up the trellis.
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Geef peultjes wat extra steun met een koord of touwtje
Legumes hold themselves up with their tentacles, but in high winds, they appreciate some extra support. All you need is some string or rope.

Beans, winter peas, and sugar snaps: they could use some support from a mini-trellis. 

With a mini-trellis, you immediately keep them neatly within their square patch.
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A growing rack for the peas

Tomatoes and climbing zucchini

For tomatoes and climbing zucchini, attach the main stem to the trellis. These guys don't climb on their own 😉

Our climbing zucchini grows a long stem that you attach to the trellis and guide upward. Do this at the start: once the stem is rigid, you won't be able to bend it.
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Climbing zucchini tied to the trellis
I use clips, string or tie wraps to attach the stem to the trellis net.

More about tomatoes and zucchini here.
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Wind de stengel van de tomaat voorzichtig om het klimnet

Don't wait to harvest: sooner is better

It sounds weird, but I know how it goes: your head of lettuce looks so beautiful that it seems like a shame to pick it.

Your radishes still could grow more and the leaves of the Asian salad mix are still small.

Here I'm already kind of late:
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Asian salad mix is plenty big
Vegetables harvested early are tastiest. Don’t wait too long. They grow quickly and before you know it, they’re past their prime: bitter, too tangy, or gnarly, or whatever.

Beautiful plants are fun to look at, but put those in your ornamental garden. Fresh vegetables on your plate: that's what you do it for, right?

And, harvesting frees up space for the next round: prepping, sowing and, before you know it, harvesting again.

MM-Plantfood and our mix can be found in the shop, as well as tasty summer vegetable seeds.
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Makkelijke Moestuin voeding
Have fun 🙂
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