Thriving vegetable plants need sun, water, fertilizer

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Thriving vegetable plants need sun, water, fertilizer

WATERLOO REGION — In a couple of weeks, it’s about that time.

The time to plant vegetables in your own personal garden.

The month of May is golden when it comes to getting gardens ready, from flowers, plants and veggies.

Days are filled with longer periods of sunshine and warmer temperatures — a necessary element to help your vegetables grow.

But the most important variable is water.

“Water from the top and let it dry,” said Denise Huck, owner of Colour Paradise Greenhouses in Mannheim.

On a sunny day, workers can water plants up to three times a day, Huck said.

When it comes to starting your own garden, start small, said Huck. And stick to the basics, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.

Starting from seed, means planting them in small containers indoors in March and keeping them warm, either in a insulated room in the house or a greenhouse.

Be sure to use light potting soil and place the seed about one quarter from the top.

“Water well the first time and every day until you see growth,” Huck said.

Buy powder fertilizer that you add to water and with a watering can give your plants fertilizer each day.

“That is the plant’s food,” she said. “When you see the seed grow, you start feeding it.”

Later this month, the plants should be transferred to the outdoor garden.

But for those who prefer to buy plants ready for the garden, local nurseries and greenhouses are awaiting you.

Don’t be too eager to get them outside just yet, Huck said.

Because of the recent wet weather and cool temperatures, growing season is about two weeks behind.

“If there is one variable that I would love to control is the weather,” said James Herrle, co-owner of Herrle’s Country Farm Market on Erbs Road in St. Agatha.

Some people follow the calendar and look for a full moon before planting. This month it’s May 18.

Huck said it’s not too far off the mark. She suggests getting the tomatoes and peppers in the ground later this month.

Lettuce is more hardy and can handle frost.

At Colour Paradise, there are 800 pots of 15 variety of tomatoes and 400 pots of peppers. They offer 75 different types of vegetables from the ubiquitous tomato to bitter melon and bok choy.

David Hobson, garden columnist for Grand Magazine, is a plant guru. He started his flower beds at his Kitchener home in 1990 and it’s grown each year.

Hobson has a plant room in the basement that is insulated with ceiling LED shop lights that keep the room warm.

For his most rare plants, he started them in January and other plants in February and March. Last month, he transplanted the small plants into bigger pots into the greenhouse in his backyard.

He will introduce the plants into the ground slowly.

“The most important thing is the weather forecast,” he said.

Vegetables that can be planted from seed directly into the garden include beans and peas.

Hobson prefers to water his seedlings from the bottom in a tray.

“Don’t overwater or let them dry out. It’s all about paying attention,” he said.

“You don’t forget to feed the baby or the puppy,” he said. “Plants are living things.”

And be sure to fertilize seedlings lightly, he said.

Hobson said he doesn’t follow the calendar or pay attention to the full moon. Instead, the amount of sunshine and rain is what drives when he plants the garden and when he waters.

Hobson started working with plants at 14 in England as a “garden boy.”

He’s hosted garden tours at his home and holds how-to sessions for gardeners.

Later this month, he will be attending the Chelsea Flower Show in England, the “Super Bowl” of gardening.

At the Herrle farm, there are 600 acres of farm land. Two hundred of them are for vegetables such as peas, beans, sweet corn and pumpkins sold mostly at the store. There are also fields of strawberries.

The remainder is cash crops of wheat, soybean, and alfalfa.

From a grower who knows his plants, Herrle suggests transplanting before the plant grows too big.

“There is an optimal size. When it gets too tall, it doesn’t have the same vigour,” he said.

For the newbie, try a raised bed garden covering it with a “hoop house” like a mini greenhouse over the bed to keep the heat in.

https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2019/05/09/thriving-vegetable-plants-need-sun-water-fertilizer.html