Vegetables In Your Backyard

Careful planning and a little inspiration are two keys to an abundant and healthy vegetable garden. Gardening Contributor Georgia Raimondi of The Saturday Early Show has advice on how to select and cultivate a huge harvest.

Vertical Planting: Cucumbers
Create a tepee frame for vining cucumbers (and plants like pole beans). When meandering plants have an upright support, their yield can double, plus the plants will take up less space and will be less prone to disease. It also will be a cleaner crop that's easier to harvest.

Landscape fabric: Peppers
Laying down landscape fabric (not black plastic) available at garden centers is easy to install, inexpensive, eliminates weeding, keeps foliage clean, helps to prevent disease, conserves water, warms the soil and can hasten the ripening of warm season crops.

Layering: Tomatoes
Many young tomato plants are too spindly. The best way to plant a leggy plants is on its side. First, instead of a hole, dig a small trench about 4 inches deep and as long as the stem. Prune off the lower leaves from the stem, just leaving the top leaves of the plant exposed. Then lay it horizontally in the trench. Cover the leggy plant (its roots and stem) with more soil and make a pillow of soil under the top stem.

The stem will grow up towards the sun. After planting, water it. The roots will soon form on the stem. A deep root system will result in a stronger, healthier tomato plant.

Companion Planting: Marigolds and Basil
Planting good companions in close proximity will help them to thrive. For instance, planting nasturtiums next to squash keeps aphids away. (The nasturtiums act as a "trap plant," attracting aphids away from the squash plant.)

Plant marigolds and basil near tomato plants. The basil will help protect tomatoes against disease and insects. (Since basil is a small plant, grow it parallel to tomatoes rather than among them.) Marigolds are not only cheerful to look at; they serve as a pest deterrent. The strong scent of marigolds hides valuable plants (like tomatoes) from pests.

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