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Beginner Vegetables: How to encourage growth for small plants-besides fertilizing

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Silvermist
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 3, 2013
12:43 PM

Post #9506892

I'm hoping to receive some tips on how I can encourage my plants to mature faster since May is here and I only have a few weeks before the summer sun comes along. I want to make sure my plants are strong enough for the upcoming hot weather. Are my squash plants, bell pepper, and cayenne hot peppers progressing normally or do I need to assist them in the maturing process?

My squash plants are more mature since they were sow in March & emerged the earliest,
the bell pepper are still small since they emerged later & took forever to germinate,
and lastly my cayenne peppers (with the same fate as my bell peppers) are my "hopeless cause" since I transplanted them too soon & they took forever to germinate.

*still hoping for the best

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behillman
Plantersville, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 3, 2013
4:43 PM

Post #9507164

I would add compost around the plants. The compost I am referring to is old leaves, grass clippings, any good soil. And water some. That should kick start them.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 3, 2013
7:23 PM

Post #9507301

Mulch the soil surface to keep it cooler and more moist?

I don't really kn ow a nything about hot weather, but here is a random speculation.

If you build hoops now, you COULD cover with plastic to keep them warm er at night and lead them gradually towards hotter days.

Then, if it gets too hot suddenly, you could replace the plastic with partial shade cloth (like non-woven row covers), leaving plenty of ventilation. That might ease their transtion from "hot" to "too hot".

And mulch will particulalry help in hot dry weather: keep the soil cooler and reduce your water consumtption while keeping roots plenty moist to help leaves cope with dry, hot wind.

stephanietx

stephanietx
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 9, 2013
5:50 PM

Post #9515035

Pray that the warmer weather doesn't arrive soon!

Seriously, the only thing you can do is plant earlier next time. Once they're in the ground, there's not really a way to speed up their growth. In the future, you can start seeds indoors so that when you plant out, you have bigger plants that are further along the growth cycle.

1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 9, 2013
7:20 PM

Post #9515153

Why don't you want to fertilize? They need to eat just like we do. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are started inside ABOUT 8 weeks berore plant out time.
behillman
Plantersville, TX
(Zone 9a)

May 10, 2013
7:56 AM

Post #9515598

It does look like you need to fertilize some. Just a weak solution, once a week should do wonders for your plants. Or, add miracle grow soil. It has lots of fertilizer in the soil.
Silvermist
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 14, 2013
12:03 PM

Post #9520366

stephanietx wrote:Pray that the warmer weather doesn't arrive soon!

Seriously, the only thing you can do is plant earlier next time. Once they're in the ground, there's not really a way to speed up their growth. In the future, you can start seeds indoors so that when you plant out, you have bigger plants that are further along the growth cycle.



Thanks. Will write that tip down.

Silvermist
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 14, 2013
12:24 PM

Post #9520399

1lisac wrote:Why don't you want to fertilize? They need to eat just like we do. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are started inside ABOUT 8 weeks berore plant out time.


I don't want to fertilize too soon or too much because I want to avoid gardening with artificial/harmful chemicals. I am also gardening on a budget (since it's a low-budget hobby for me), and I don't have sufficient knowledge of what is safe to fertilize with. Although I know there are "green fertilizers" I am unable to obtain those sources given my circumstances.

I'm looking for natural & quick fix-it alternatives. Do you have any recommendations on any fertilizing products that fit the principles of organic gardening?
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 14, 2013
12:51 PM

Post #9520437

Pretty much all Nitrogen, phospherous, and potassium are the same element the plant has no way of knowing if the element is man made or not. I think any fertilizer would be better then nothing. Artificial doesn't mean harmful. I think more damage is done by not feeding them and expecting them to grow and produce. It just isn't possible.

You can fertilize with manure which is very natural but can be very harmful and dangerous. I'd use Miracle Grow if you want a compete fertilizer on a budget and it comes with directions. I understand the budget thing, but your going to have to decide what you want to do.I don't think NOT fertilizing is an option.

stephanietx

stephanietx
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 14, 2013
4:59 PM

Post #9520714

I fertilize with liquid seaweed, liquid molasses, and compost tea. It's just an ounce (approx) of each/gallon of water.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 14, 2013
5:23 PM

Post #9520750

>> I'm looking for natural & quick fix-it alternatives.

To some degree, those tend to be opposite paths. Usually the natural way take longer (but it c an be cheaper).

If you have time and space to make a compost heap, a shovelful of finished compost or almost-fin ished compost WOULD be a natural, fairly-quick, fix for providing nutrients. However, for it to be a quick fix today, you would have had start collecting leaves months ago.

>> I don't have sufficient knowledge of what is safe to fertilize with.

My theory is that it's not so much "what" is harmful, it's usually more like "HOW MUCH" is harmfull.

Way too much manure can clog up the soil and make it anerobic. Too much soluble chemical fertilizer (especially Nitrogen) can discourage root fungi or even "burn" root hairs. Too much of either kind can salinize soil.

There is some serious lower limit on organic "fertilizer" or just plain "organic matter". Soil NEEDS some organic matter to feed the soil life, before it can be much good for plants. So you need at least that much organic matter, whether as compost or organic fertilizers.

Of course too little water in soil kills plants by salinizing the soil, preventing nutrient uptake, and eventually dries the plant to death,

But too much water in soil excludes air. When roots don't get enoguh air, they suffocate and drown. Also, lack of air makes the soil microbes go anaerobic, and they ferment instead of respire. That releases all kinds of toxic organic acids and alcohols.

So enough of everything is necessary, and too much of anything is harmful.
Moderation in all things.
"The dose makes the poison."

gardadore
Saylorsburg, PA
(Zone 6a)

May 15, 2013
7:43 AM

Post #9521345

I prefer organic fertilizers over Miracle Grow. If you can afford to get a bag of Espoma general fertilizer (usually available at the big box stores like Lowe's) or one smaller bottle of fish emulsion it would make a difference. Meanwhile you can also grind up used eggshells once they have been cleaned and ground up. Either put in a gallon jug of water and let sit a few days, then water, or sprinkle the ground up powder around the plants.. That will add calcium to the plants. But you also need a balance. If you can start composting, using veggie parings, tea from tea bags, coffee grounds and grass clippings, you should have some nice compost available for next year. Do you know anyone who has horses, cows, goats or even rabbits. Rabbit manure is often free and doesn't burn. Google your area for rabbitries. I found one locally and have been getting free rabbit manure for two years for free. In exchange I give her tomato plants every spring so we are both happy. Rabbit urine also has nitrogen. Good luck!!
Silvermist
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 15, 2013
12:10 PM

Post #9521665

1lisac wrote:Pretty much all Nitrogen, phospherous, and potassium are the same element the plant has no way of knowing if the element is man made or not. I think any fertilizer would be better then nothing. Artificial doesn't mean harmful. I think more damage is done by not feeding them and expecting them to grow and produce. It just isn't possible.

You can fertilize with manure which is very natural but can be very harmful and dangerous. I'd use Miracle Grow if you want a compete fertilizer on a budget and it comes with directions. I understand the budget thing, but your going to have to decide what you want to do.I don't think NOT fertilizing is an option.


I'm not against fertilizing, if I have to & when I have to I will but if I can encourage the plant to grow stronger in other ways I will like to try that first. Thanks for your input.
Silvermist
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 15, 2013
12:12 PM

Post #9521670

RickCorey_WA wrote:>> I'm looking for natural & quick fix-it alternatives.

To some degree, those tend to be opposite paths. Usually the natural way take longer (but it c an be cheaper).

If you have time and space to make a compost heap, a shovelful of finished compost or almost-fin ished compost WOULD be a natural, fairly-quick, fix for providing nutrients. However, for it to be a quick fix today, you would have had start collecting leaves months ago.

>> I don't have sufficient knowledge of what is safe to fertilize with.

My theory is that it's not so much "what" is harmful, it's usually more like "HOW MUCH" is harmfull.

Way too much manure can clog up the soil and make it anerobic. Too much soluble chemical fertilizer (especially Nitrogen) can discourage root fungi or even "burn" root hairs. Too much of either kind can salinize soil.

There is some serious lower limit on organic "fertilizer" or just plain "organic matter". Soil NEEDS some organic matter to feed the soil life, before it can be much good for plants. So you need at least that much organic matter, whether as compost or organic fertilizers.

Of course too little water in soil kills plants by salinizing the soil, preventing nutrient uptake, and eventually dries the plant to death,

But too much water in soil excludes air. When roots don't get enoguh air, they suffocate and drown. Also, lack of air makes the soil microbes go anaerobic, and they ferment instead of respire. That releases all kinds of toxic organic acids and alcohols.

So enough of everything is necessary, and too much of anything is harmful.
Moderation in all things.
"The dose makes the poison."



Makes sense. Learned a lot from reading your response. Awesome quote.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 15, 2013
12:16 PM

Post #9521683

My thoughts with the Miracle Grow is that it's quick, less expensive, and is a balanced fertilizer. It may not be a favorite but it's the only thing I could think of that fit the concerns mentioned in the first post.
Any food you grow yourself will be better then what you buy at the store. IMHO

I wouldn't recommend any type of manure unless your sure it's herbicide free.

Silvermist ask what could be done now, not what could be composted for next year.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 15, 2013
6:14 PM

Post #9522074

>> Any food you grow yourself will be better then what you buy at the store. IMHO

At first I mis-read that as:

"Any fertilizer you compost yourself will be better then what you buy at the store. IMHO"

Hmm ... organic AND right-now ...

The Dumpster-Diving Divas might put on their Ninja suits and raid someone else's compost heap in the middle fo the night!

Weezingreen's introductory thread:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/463059/

Weezingreen's 'Seed Snatchin' saga Part 1:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/463059/



gardadore
Saylorsburg, PA
(Zone 6a)

May 15, 2013
7:07 PM

Post #9522118

It is good to be concerned about manures but most people raising rabbits don't feed them anything that has been sprayed with herbicides. I am always asking my friend what is in the pellets she feeds the rabbits and the bedding. It is all organic so I feel safe using it. Obviously any other type of manures should be thoroughly composted before being used in the garden. Silvermist, I understand your concern about "fertilizing" but think more in terms of conditioning your soil with natural amendments rather than fertilizing the plants. The phrase to remember is: "feed the soil and the rest will follow".

Compost will add the necessary nutrients and organisms. Adding things like worm castings to the compost or soil (they are awesome) and getting your worm count up will help make great nutritious soil. Just mulching heavily with straw will result in a few months in a nice compost. Teas made from worm castings or other manures or alfalfa pellets is great "fertilizer". Rick mentioned teas from compost above.

I grow my tomatoes and eggplants in straw bales. (See the straw bale gardening thread) By the following year the bales have broken down into great compost which can be used to amend soils in other parts of the garden. The broken down matter also contains tons of earthworms as well. Earthworms then produce food for the plants. It has taken a few years but my vegetable garden has really nice rich black soil and is very easy to dig and weed.

There is so much to learn and lots of info available. While you might need something right now to help your plants, do keep the health of the soil in mind for next year. Consider using a good fish fertilizer for now. These will feed both the plants and the soil. I personally use Aggrand products ( http://www.aggrand.com/ ) but there are many good brands like Neptune's Harvest available at any good nursery. It isn't cheap but as pointed out above, you need only 1-2 tb per gallon of water.

So you have much food for thought! Hope this all helps and that your plants flourish!! And I will keep the guard dogs out against anyone trying to help themselves to my compost bins!!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 15, 2013
7:23 PM

Post #9522135

Since she's trying to do what will work now, not in a few years, and has mentioned she is on a budget I'm trying to keep my recommendations geared to her concerns. Like she said soon it will be hot in her area...I'm trying to keep it simple and with in her budget and time, and not be overwhelming. Before I moved to Tx I lived in So Cal and I had a small garden, on a suburban lot. My garden did great and the only thing I added, besides kitchen scraps was Miracle Grow, but I got great results, stayed within my budget and it didn't take a lot of time. Composting and all is great, but time consuming.

Composting doesn't stop the herbicides it can take yrs to get out of the soil. But rabbit poop shouldn't be an issue.

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