50March 18, 2015

I am looking out the window as I am writing this and there is snow coming down and giving a fresh coat of white to the old dirty snow. At this point, I would rather look at the dirty snow and watch as it melts away.

During the last week, there have been a number of people who have come into the store with problems with the plants that they started from seed. The plants are tall and the stems are thin. They wanted to know if fertilizing the plants would help the plants to stay short and develop a thicker stalk.
The real reason the plants are tall and have a thin stalk is because the plants are not getting enough light. If you start your plants in February, the sunlight is not strong enough to give you a sturdy plant. Even if you have your plants in a sunny window you probably are not getting enough light for your plants to grow sturdy. As a rule of thumb, you want to start your seeds about 8 weeks before you are going to put your plants in the garden. If you are going to grow tomatoes and peppers and you are going to set them in the garden in mid to late May, you would start the plants in mid to late March. In mid to late March, the sun is stronger and by April, you can get some really strong sunlight coming through a south or west-facing window. The problem for many people is that they don’t have a window that gives them enough sunshine for strong plant growth. The best solution is to use a grow light system. This type of lighting mimics the light that would occur in natural sunshine. With a good grow light system, you can adjust the height of the fixture allowing you to keep the light 6 to 12 inches above the plants. By giving your plants the light that they need, you will have a shorter plant with a thicker stem. We carry the grow light fixtures in our store.
If you start your plants from seed, you will need to eventually fertilize your plants for optimum growth and over all plant health. You should begin to fertilize the plants once they have 2 sets of leaves on the plant. It is best to fertilize with a dilute solution of fertilizer each time you water the plants. With this method, the plants get their food on a continual basis and will respond to this method by putting out strong and steady growth.

As the snow melts, it appears that the rabbits and mice have been feeding on the bark of fruit trees and many other plants. As the snow melts, make sure that you check your plants for signs of damage. If you can get tree wrap onto the plants before the sun dries out the trunk or branches, you have a better chance to save the tree if the critters have not stripped the bark completely around the trunk or branches. The longer the sun and wind has to dry out your damaged plants, the less likely it is that your plants will survive.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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