50March 13, 2013

When the forecast for snow on one TV station is for 1 to 3 inches of snow, 4 to 8 inches on another TV station and 6 to 10 inches on another TV station, you probably have to guess that it will be a dozy of a snowstorm. Enough is enough with all the snow. Bring on Spring!

We are getting to the point where it is time to start your vegetable and flower plants indoors. I have said in prior columns that you need about 8 to 10 weeks from when you plant seeds until it is time to set the plants into the garden. If you use Memorial Day as the time to plant, we are now right on cue for starting those plants.

One of the things that people tend to forget is the importance of fertilizing those plants as the plants grow in your house. Once the seeds begin to sprout, they will put out a tiny set of leaves. Soon the plants will put out another set of leaves and soon after, another set of leaves. At this point, you should begin to fertilize your plants. You should be using a very diluted amount of fertilizer. Plant roots will be very sensitive to over-fertilizing at this point. If you add too much fertilizer to the soil, you can easily burn the roots of the plant. The amount of fertilizer you use will be the smallest concentration listed on the fertilizer package. At this point, it is always best to use a fertilizer that you dilute with water. In most cases, fertilizer powders that you mix with water will be diluted at the rate of ¼ teaspoon in a gallon of water. Initially, you would use this rate each time you need to water your seedlings. As time goes on, you should be able to increase the amount of fertilizer powder to ½ teaspoon in a gallon of water.
If you chose to use an organic fertilizer, just be sure to keep the dilution rate low. Even though the fertilizer is organic, you can still burn the roots if you use too much fertilizer.
If you have your plants situated near a sunny window and you use a diluted fertilizer, you should have nice stocky plants to put out into your garden.

Speaking of plants, mid March is the time to begin fertilizing your houseplants. During the winter months, your houseplants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. Most houseplants are in almost a dormant state during the winter months. As the sun gets stronger, plants will respond by putting out new growth. Fertilizing your houseplants will help them to get new growth.
When you fertilize your houseplants, you should mix the fertilizer with water. You should water your plants with this solution to the point that the fertilizer/water mixture comes out the bottom of the flowerpot. Any excess solution that winds up in the saucer should be dumped out of the saucer. Houseplants that sit in a saucer of water will eventually develop root damage from having soil that is wet all of the time.

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

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