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For a bountiful harvest, pick often

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

The key to helping your home garden produce more vegetables is to pick, pick, pick. A University of Georgia horticulturist says the more often you harvest your crop, the more your garden will produce.

"If you want to make sure your garden plants keep producing, you have to harvest your crops regularly," said Bob Westerfield, a consumer vegetable horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "If you stop picking, your plants will stop producing."

In your home garden, you must remember that the fruits of your labors are actually part of the plants' reproductive cycle. "If you don't harvest your vegetables, your plants will shut down and stop producing," he said.

Best-tasting, too

Harvesting regularly will also ensure you are serving your family the best-tasting vegetables.

"Young squash, corn and cucumbers are much more flavorful than larger ones," Westerfield said. "And if you leave vegetables like squash on the vine too long they can become tough and chewy."

The success of some vegetables lies in where and how they were planted.

"I get a lot of calls from home gardeners who want to know why their corn isn't producing," he said. "They'll say they have a long row of the prettiest corn plants you've ever seen, but no corn."

Westerfield says the problem, in this case, lies in how the home gardener planted his corn.

Plant more than one row

"Corn is a wind-pollinated plant," he said. "The tassels and silks have to touch one another when the wind blows and they can't do that if they are planted in one long row."

He recommends planting three or four short rows instead.

You can hurt your garden plants, too, by applying too much insecticide.

"Most plants are pollinated by insects," he said. "If you use insecticidal sprays that knock out the insects, how are your plants going to be pollinated?"

For help with these and other home gardening issues, call your local UGA Cooperative Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visit the Web at www.ugaextension.com.

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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