June 8, 2016
At the garden center, we have seen a few weeks of people buying plants for their vegetable gardens. I’m sure there are a few people who would like fresh vegetables but don’t have an area in their yard to plant vegetables. If you are one of these people, there are many ways to grow vegetables in containers. We have a product called the Earthbox. This is a self-watering container system that allows you to grow many vegetables in a small space. I have to admit that I had some skepticism the first time we got some in the store. We set one up by adding 2 cubic feet of Coast of Maine potting soil in the box and adding in the packets of lime and fertilizer that came with the box. We planted a tomato plant, a pepper plant and a cucumber plant into the soil. We kept the water reservoir filled with water and lo and behold, the plants started to grow and in a few months we were eating fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
You can also plant vegetables into window boxes or large flowerpots. If you use a large flowerpot, you could plant a tomato plant into the pot and soon you would have fresh tomatoes. You could plant a bush cucumber plant into a hanging basket and soon be eating fresh cucumbers. A window box can be the home for leaf lettuce or herbs. Keep in mind that just because you have a small yard, you too can grow fresh vegetables that you grow on your deck or patio.
I have said it before but it bears repeating again. Once you have your window boxes filled with flowers or you have your gardens set into place, you have to keep up with fertilizing your plants. Plants are a lot like people. They both like to eat. Fertilizer is the food that your plants need for proper growth. If you have a flowering-hanging basket, the plant will soon stop flowering and may even die. If you keep that plant on a regular program of fertilization, it will reward you with flowers from now until frost. If you planted those tomato plants and can’t wait for fresh tomatoes, you will have a long wait unless you fertilize your plants. There are organic options for fertilizing your plants. There are water-soluble synthetic options you can use to fertilize your plants. No matter what option you chose, you need to keep up with fertilizing your plants if you want to have a good vegetable garden or nice flowering plants.
Once you have your tomato plants planted, it is time to put in place some type of support system for your plants. A full-grown tomato plant can reach 6 feet if you have it in the ground. It will probably set 25 pound or more of tomatoes. If you get some rainy weather at that point, the tomato plant is going to fall over. There are heavy-duty tomato cages that you can put over the tomato plants. The key to success is to place the cages over the plants while the plants are small. By placing the cages early, you can train the plants to grow up through the center of the cage. This gives the plant the support that it needs. You can also use heavy-duty wood stakes to support your plants. Please don’t skimp on the size of the stake. Over the years, many of our customers have opted to use the green bamboo stakes to hold up the tomato plants. It isn’t too many weeks before they discover the tomato plant on the ground because the bamboo stake snapped from the weight of the tomato plant.
There are many of your perennials that can benefit from some type of plant support. A classic example of why your perennials may need some type of support is the peony plant. Peonies will grow into a wide and tall plant that will have beautiful flowers. The flowers are big and they are heavy when they come into bloom. Invariably, when the peonies come into bloom, we get a rainy day and the rain caused those heavy flowers to flop onto the ground. If you place peony hoops over your plants when the plants are small, the rings of the support will hold the plant up even after it rains. If your plants are big now, there are supports called half hoops. By placing one half hoop on one side of your plant and another on the other side of your plant, you create a circular support that holds up your plant.
I’ll talk to you again next week.