Saturday, June 16, 2012

Timing is Everything


 Timing is everything...

tomatoes.jpgThe key to helping your plants flourish is to take your cues from them by watching them grow. By watching and seeing what they respond to positively, you can make the best decisions about how to care for them. Improving your soil is always the first step because under the ground is where so much of the plant actually lives. The roots are the part of the plant that we tend to forget, out of sight, out of mind but most of the water, nutrients and minerals all come from the soil. The best way to improve the soil is by adding compost as it corrects any problems you have with too heavy or too light soil, adds water holding capacity and adds organic material which feeds the microorganisms that help break down the nutrition in the soil.

So many times I get asked "why are my tomatoes so small?" or "Why are my plants wilting?" and the answers are that the roots aren't getting what they need. Soil should always be soft, fluffy, rich in nutrition, moist and kept cool during the summer and warm during other months. Compost and mulch can help you achieve those good conditions and some natural fertilizer will break down slowly and feed the roots their proper nutrition.

Timing is everything. Knowing the right time to plant in your area is crucial to success. If you plant too early or too late, your plants will not reach certain growth stages at the right time, and may not get fruits produced. Tomatoes and other vegetables grow according to temperatures and day length so the planting time must take that into account. Fortunately for most vegetables, this is shortly after your average last frost date which can be checked on our website by simply entering your zip code.
"Since I can't control the weather, what do I do when spring is very cold or summer is extra hot?" This has been an issue for many of us over the last few seasons with extremes becoming the rule instead of the exception. The solution is to stick with the tried and true gardening techniques. Having well drained soil, in a location with good sun helps with wet spring weather conditions and spacing your plants properly improves airflow, so that the leaves are able to dry off after a rain, preventing diseases.In very hot areas, a light shade cloth hung over the garden can help deflect summer heat away and drop the soil temperature by 10-15 degrees. Also, watering very slowly, for a longer period of time, will allow water to go deep into the soil where the roots will follow them. 

Mulching the top of the soil will shade it and keep soil much cooler than normal surface temperatures making a happy home for your plant's roots.  Having a happy garden environment will also make it a good home for beneficial insects which can help pollinate the vegetable flowers as well as fight off detrimental insects. Using these simple basic techniques will make your garden a great success and provide a bountiful harvest!  More growing tips are available on our website at http://www.tastefulgarden.com
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