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KUSA - With the weather warming up the next several days, it makes the weekend a great time to be in the garden and do things that will make your plants productive through the growing season. Here are four things you can do now that will pay off all season long.

No. 1 – Take care of the tomatoes.

Now that tomatoes are getting into their growth spurt, it's time to do some pruning and set the cages. Remove the very lowest branches and place cages over the tomatoes. Cages need to be set while the plants are young as the plants need to climb up the cages as they grow. Check the plants when you're weeding or watering and gently move branches up and over the cages wires so branches get the support they need.

No. 2 – Plant some marigolds and other companion plants in the garden.

Marigolds are good companion plants in the garden – especially near tomatoes. They promote tomato growth and bring other benefits within the garden. Other flowers, like nasturtium, are also good companion plants. Placing flowers that do more than sit and look pretty makes the overall garden more productive.

No. 3 – Include plants that attract pollinators.

We need bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and wasps to pollinate our plants and trees so that they produce a harvest. Without them, we would have no food. With urban gardeners growing more edibles in their yards, it is increasingly important that we provide the plants that attract pollinators and also provide sources for water and even shelter. Next week is National Pollinator Week – so it's a good time to be thinking about putting the welcome mat out for pollinators.

No. 4 – Add more compost instead of the usual mulch.

Traditionally, gardeners have used a variety of items to mulch their gardens. Grass clippings, straw, bark mulch and even newspapers are common mulch items that help to retain moisture and fight weeds. Recent research, however, is showing that adding a 2-inch layer of compost is even more effective that these other materials as mulch. This year, we are trying this method in the 9NEWS Kitchen Garden and will monitor – and report - the results.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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