41May 20, 2015

It’s hard to believe but Monday is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the traditional planting time for plants that are considered tender annuals and tender vegetables. Theses plants are the types of plants that would be damaged by a frost. This week’s column will contain a lot of information so get the reading glasses out or put in the contacts cause your eyes will be busy

Let’s start with the vegetable garden. You need to remember that vegetable plants need room to grow. The tag that comes with the plant will tell you how far apart the plants should be in the garden. For instance, the tag will tell you that the plants should be spaced 3 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. When you look at that tiny plant, you don’t want to believe that you need to give each one that much room. Yet come August, you will find that, yes indeed, those plants do grow up to be that big. If you crowd your plants in the garden, you will get less produce off of all your plants. If you are putting your plants in a container, you need a big enough container for your plants. I have had the best luck putting one tomato plant in an 18 to 24 inch pot. When planting into pots, you should always use potting soil to fill the container. There is the tendency to want to cut corners by adding packing peanuts or adding topsoil to the container to fill up some of the space before adding the potting soil. Don’t do this because the plant roots will fill the pot, think tomatoes again, and the plant will struggle to stay alive if filler is used in the pot.

If you are putting your plants in the ground, be aware that cutworms may attack your plants the very first night that you have your plants in the ground. The cutworm lives in the soil and will chew through the stem of your plants leaving a cut off plant lying on the soil. You can make collars to put around your plants or you can treat the soil with an insecticide to prevent damage to the plants.

Your young plants will struggle a bit to get a root system into the soil during their first days in the soil. It is very helpful to use a plant starter fertilizer to get your plants off to a good start. This fertilizer is either mixed with water or is a granule that you mix with the soil. It helps to stimulate root growth on your newly planted seedlings. This product is applied at planting time.

Since your plants struggle to get their root system established, you may want to consider planting on a cloudy day. The lack of sun makes it easier for the plants to get started in their new home.

Going back to plants in the ground, the ground is bone dry. You need to make sure that your plants are getting enough water to keep the soil moist during the early weeks of your garden.

There is another garden pest that you need to be aware of in your garden. Flea beetles are a tiny black bug that will eat hundreds of holes in the leaves of your plants. They usually attack young plants. If you see the holes in your plants, you must immediately treat your plants with an appropriate insecticide.

If you are potting up your plants in containers, let me emphasize that you need to use potting soil to fill your containers. You will also soon find that plants in window boxes and other containers will take up a lot of water, as the plants get big. There is a product called Soil Moist that you add to your soil. The granules of the Soil Moist will expand up to 200 times their original size by picking up water that is in the soil. As the soil dries, the Soil Moist releases the water back into the soil. When you water again, the granules pick up the excess water and store the water until the soil begins to dry again. By using this product, you can cut down on how often you water your plants. Think of all those summer days last year when you had a hard time keeping adequate amounts of water on your containerized plants. Soil Moist will help you to water less often and help your plants to survive those hot days of summer.

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

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