Fluttering Flowers
July 1, 2019 – 12:08 am | Comments Off on Fluttering Flowers

Regular readers of this blog know that your Road Trips Gardener considers butterflies as fluttering flowers (of course, they’re privileged visitors to gardens as well).
There are all sorts of places to see butterflies. Some botanical …

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Fertilizing Basics for Your Vegetable Garden

Submitted by on June 15, 2014 – 8:29 amNo Comment
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carrots Special to Road Trips for Gardeners
From Bonnie Plants for National Garden Bureau

Plants grow using energy from the sun combined with nutrients taken from the soil. Because the organic matter in soil holds nutrients like a sponge until they are needed by plants, soil that is fertile, well drained, and regularly enriched with compost often holds a reasonable supply of plant nutrients.

Unimproved, newly cultivated soil is usually low in organic matter, so it is also low in nutrients.

All edible plants remove some nutrients from the soil, and some have such huge appetites that they quickly exhaust the soil (and then produce a poor crop) without the help of fertilizer.

Fertilizer is especially helpful early on, when plants are making fast new growth. You can mix fertilizer into individual planting holes, work it into furrows, or use a turning fork to mix it into beds. You can also apply a liquid fertilizer every week or two for a fast-acting extra boost of nutrition.

Always follow the rates given on the fertilizer label when deciding how much to use. Too much fertilizer can be worse than too little. Overfed plants often grow huge, yet bear a light crop late in the season.

With experience, you will learn how to match fertilizer amounts with plants’ needs for your climate and soil. Onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, and vegetables grown in containers respond to special fertilizing techniques, but most crops grow well if you simply mix a balanced fertilizer into the soil as you set out the plants. Use the lists below to help estimate the fertilizer needs of your favorite crops.

Light feeders often benefit from a small amount of starter fertilizer but require no additional feeding when grown in soil that has been enriched with compost:

Bush beans
Mustard greens
Peas
Southern peas
Turnips

Moderate feeders often need good drainage and moisture-holding mulch more than they need fertilizer. Avoid using organic fertilizers made primarily from processed manure when preparing the soil for beets, carrots, and other root crops. Manure can contribute to scabby patches on potato skins and forked roots in carrots and parsnips.

Beets
Carrots
Okra
Pole beans
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes

Heavy feeders are often highly productive plants, so a few minutes spent mixing in fertilizer before you set out plants is time well spent. Just don’t go overboard by applying too much! Plants often grow slowly in cool spring weather, so wait until the weather warms to decide that the application rate given on a fertilizer’s label was not enough. Some heavy feeders also respond to second helpings later in the season.

Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Cauliflower
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Kale
Kohlrabi
Onions
Peppers
Rhubarb
Squash
Tomatoes
Watermelon

(Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau)

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