Haven’t planted your hot vegetables yet? So you and I are the lucky ones!
This cold weather we had was not good for tender, warm plants like tomatoes and peppers. Plants that have been installed may need an additional week or two of good weather to recover. If they were frosty and look black, they’re dead – start over. Basil is very sensitive to cold and does not tolerate frost. Potato plants and sweet corn generally recover well even if they are suffocated by frost.
While you may have hopefully been able to cover your plants with some type of protection on past cold nights, they may still have been stressed and not recovering. If there is no improvement compared to this hot stretch on hold, stop waiting and start over… Our summer is too short!
New gardeners are particularly wondering if they need to fertilize or add soil amendments. Good soil in the garden is what fresh flour is to the baker – oh wait, it’s me! Both!
The best soil texture is described as loamy soil. It contains equal parts of sand, silt and clay. A soil with more sand would be called a sandy loam. Sandy soils drain faster than more clayey soils. Why? The sand particles are large and the clay particles tiny in comparison. Water moves more slowly through the tiny clay particles and can lead to poor drainage for plants. You might be thinking, “Great, I’m going to have to water less often! “
Personally, having done large-scale (acres) gardening in both soils, I would take sandy soil over clay any day. Clay soil can also be difficult to plow as it tends to stay in large chunks that are difficult to break up. If you can get clay soil to be planted, it is also very difficult to cultivate by hand. It’s like trying to crash in a field of golf balls.
If your garden is already planted, you can always add several inches of humus (finished compost) to the vegetable patch with the intention of plowing or digging in the fall. Compost works great as a mulch material around the base of your vegetable plants to keep moisture in and help remove soil spatters on the plants. Gardening using straw mulch is very beneficial and when it breaks down after the season, it can also be plowed or dug and will help enrich the soil.
Mulch should not be applied around the base of the plants until the soil has really warmed up around mid-June. Straw mulch, for example, will also work as an insulation. If placed while the ground is still cold, it will help keep the ground cold – not what we want!
But what about the fertilizer? Once per season, you can dig in a dry-release fertilizer before planting, or dress the plants after planting. Liquid fertilizers can be applied several times a year if necessary. But how do we know? You can always have the soil tested to be sure. Another indicator is: are the plants growing as described, are the tomatoes 12 ounces in size as the label says, are the plants healthy and green or yellow and unkempt? More is not better when it comes to fertilizer.
A key indicator of too much fertilizer is “all plants and no fruit”. Lawn fertilizer and garden fertilizer are two different things! Use the right product in the right place. There are also many organic fertilizers to use, but the effect is not as immediate as synthetic compounds.
Visit us at the Mankato Farmer’s Market located in the Best Buy parking lot on Adams Street from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow my Facebook business page at Market Bakery. To respect everyone’s health and ensure that the market can remain open, please stay at home if you are ill, send a healthy family member to do your shopping, wash your hands often (terminals will be available). set up), no eating and shopping on site with your eyes – the vendors will take care of the items.