Fertilizing Tomatoes, Eggplants and Peppers

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are the garden’s equivalent of teenage boys in that they consume a lot of food while they are growing.

Garden books often call them “heavy feeders.” So once you’ve planted the crop and are watering regularly, you will need to know how to fertilize — not only what to use but how often is necessary.

What to Use

For tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, I use Tomato-tone once a month and fish emulsion every two weeks.
In my experience this keeps plants healthy and harvests abundant.

I begin to fertilize about a week after I have settled my plants in the ground, which is amended with compost every Spring — another form of fertilizing. And, I continue throughout the summer as long as the plant is producing.

How to Use it

Starting with the Tomato-tone I sprinkle one and a half tablespoons in a circle around the plant about 4 to 6 inches out from the stem. Don’t get fertilizer on the leaves, it will burn the plant. Next I scratch the fertilizer into the soil gently. I use a small claw tool meant for houseplants that gets in between and around the plants easily. You can use anything, even the tip of a trowel. Don’t go too deep. You can damage the roots.

Next I mix one tablespoon of fish emulsion into a gallon of water and circle the plant the same way. This product isn’t pleasant to smell, but all my vegetables seem to thrive with it.

Finally, I water. If you can time your fertilizing to coincide with a rainy day and let Mother nature water, that’s even better.

The last step is to note in your garden journal the date and what you used. Good records help you keep track of maintenance.

A common error is to add too much fertilizer. I think it’s the “If some is good, more must be better” syndrome. Too much fertilizer will produce lush green-leafy plants with little vegetable production. That’s not the result we want.

Our goal is a thriving, productive garden.

Vermont Garden Trip

Horsford2This time of year it is a pleasure to visit different garden centers, see what they have and add to and tweak what you are growing in your garden.

When I was in Vermont yesterday, I stopped at Horsford Gardens and Nursery http://www.horsfordnursery.com on Route 7 in Charlotte, which is south of Burlington.
The nursery has been in operation for over 100 years and is well-stocked with annuals and perennials, vegetables, herbs, flowering trees, shrubs and fruit trees and conifers. There is plenty to see.

As I walked around taking photos, I found the premises to be well-tended and the plants healthy. Pictured below is one side of an area full of perennials for shade and sun. Horsford

One of the things I liked most was they test what they sell so you can be confident these varieties will withstand cold northern winters. “Our roses are the hardiest varieties, grown right here in Vermont,” the website states. Nursery hours are Monday to Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

I bought an astilbe that has a reddish stem and an eye-popping heuchera with color that will add a touch of drama to my back garden border and a Verbena bonariensis, an annual known for attracting butterflies.

While walking around, I admired a Locust tree in full bloom. These trees are putting on quite a spectacular show this spring with an abundance of white flowers. If you get to this nursery soon, be sure to sniff the row of peony that greets visitors near the parking lot adjacent to the garden shop. Great fragrances. A treat for the nose.Horsford5

The shop sells watering cans, gifts, bulbs, bird baths, pots and more.

Horsord3It was a good stop.

If you are looking to combine this trip with another attraction: Shelburne Museum is not far away and the Open Days Garden Conservancy tours will be in the area on June 22. http://www.gardenconservancy.org/index.php?option=com_eventlist&view=opendays&id=1&Itemid=39&state=VT

Happy Gardening. Natalie

Suzanne Balet Gives Garden Gifts

Suzanne Balet, from Balet’s Flowers and Design Nursery at 5041 Nelson Avenue Extension, has given the community garden the vines for the pergola and a gift for the gardeners, too.

Print out this coupon and bring it to the nursery or to the farmers’ market where Suzanne has a booth. And please, let her know you are a Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley gardener.

Thanks, Suzanne.
Visit her nursery website at: http://www.baletflowers.com/about.htm

Compost Cleaned Up

photoHolly and Susan spent hours redoing the compost boxes.

The photo shows all the large chunky plant debris that was stuffed into the bins and had to be removed. It would take a long time for such big pieces to decompose.

“Please only put soft material and food scraps (nothing from animals except egg shells). If we all
add this material to out side boxes we will have great new soil next spring,” Susan wrote in an email.

The way our 3 compost bins work is that we add plant debris and scraps to the two outer bins. These get turned throughout the season and the finished compost will then be turned into the center bin.

Let’s keep the compost bins working.

Thank you to Susan and Holly.

New Compost Cover

Photo by Susan Bokan

Photo by Susan Bokan

Many thanks to Michael Belanger for creating a new and easier to use cover for our compost bin.

You’ll notice there are three lids/three bins. The two end bins should be used for active compost. The bin in the center should be where we shovel the finished compost from the two end bins.

Any gardener who is able can hurry the process of decomposition by turning the compost in the end bins bringing the material on the bottom up to the top. This would be a help. Thank you.

If we all do a little something, our garden will thrive.

A Blog Award!

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 7.47.50 AMI – Natalie Walsh – am absolutely delighted to receive this award. Yeah for our community garden blog!

Thank you to Wayne Law at http://caveoffame.wordpress.com for nominating me. I am thrilled to have the award!

One of the rules for accepting this honor was to write 7 things about myself on the blog. Here goes:

I am an avid gardener who grows everything from food to flowers and fruit following organic methods. When I am in a garden, I smile from the inside out — every part of me is happy.
I like to oil paint, kayak on the lakes and streams of the Adirondack Mountains, challenge myself to learn new things and have fun.
I own garden gloves but seldom wear them.
I like to explore.
I like spending time with other gardeners … hence the community gardens.
I am fascinated by insects, especially beetles. And, there are a lot of beetles. J.B.S. Haldane once said: “If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.”
Apparently, there are at least 300,000 different species of beetles which amounts to about 30 to 40 percent of all insects. Cool.
I believe that empathy, compassion and caring are key to building a better world. Like J.M. Barrie said: “Always be a little kinder than necessary.”

Now to pass along this honor to bloggers deserving to feature this award on their site.

Kudos to the following bloggers:

Saratoga Woods and Waterways. http://saratogawoodswaters.blogspot.com This blog lets you wander the woods and waterways of our region from your armchair with a curious and knowledgeable guide.

Photographer Carl Heilman’s blog – The Adirondack Viewfinder – is beautiful. http://www.adirondack.net/viewfinder/

If you need a giggle, check out http://AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com

If it is inspiring photographs you seek: http://500px.com is a winner.

Want to talk gardening with someone who understands that March 20 is not when Spring really begins: http://coldclimategardening.com

Hungry? Visit: http://www.101cookbooks.com, http://seriouslysoupy.com, http://www.katheats.com, http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com, http://blog.sanuraweathers.com

Can’t get into your own garden? Then visit another and smile, laugh and be inspired: http://www.asuburbanfarmer.com and http://carletongarden.blogspot.com

Like birds, butterflies and insects? http://beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com, http://robinsnestingplace.blogspot.com, http://livingwithinsects.wordpress.com

Get Your Application In

A Lottery will be held in February for the plots at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden. If you are interested in entering the lottery, you must print out the application from the menu bar, fill it out and send it along without delay.

Hope to see you in the garden!


P.S. If you sent your application in last fall, you don’t need to do it again.

We Couldn’t Have Done It…

without John.

Unfortunately, John missed the harvest dinner and the award presentation.

This morning, Susan and I met with John to give him a Silver Trowel pin, an award for his helpful service to the community garden.

John has been involved in the garden from the beginning. He helped with the construction of the  raised beds.  He watered and weeded for absent gardeners all summer. And, today he was tidying up the plots.

Thank you, John. We appreciate everything you have done for the community garden.

– Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener and Blogger

Stay in Touch This Winter

Now that the garden is closed for the winter, the blog is going to take a rest, too.

I won’t be writing as often but if you want to know when I do write about the garden, follow me by email.

That way you will be the first to know when a post concerning the garden is published. To do so, go to top of the column at the right and click “Follow Blog Via Email.”

Just so you know, we had about 4,000 visitors to the blog this season. That’s wonderful. Thank you, all.

I’m thinking of ways to make the blog even better.

This winter I will be adding information about organic fertilizers and pesticides that can be used in the garden. Tips on seed starting, making the most of a 10×5 plot with succession planting, composting and choosing the most disease resistant varieties are among the article topics I’m considering as well. If you have an article suggestion, let me know.

It has been a pleasure.

Have a wonderful winter. I look forward to see you in the garden next Spring.

– Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener and Blogger