After following Part 1 of this guide, you are on your way to developing a green thumb! You planned a garden plot, tested soil, and purchased potting soil, seed trays, and seeds to begin growing new plants for the garden. Now, you will learn how to select potted plants from a nursery, fertilize, and make your own compost.
You will need:
• Flowering, fruit, and vegetable plants
• Chemical or organic fertilizer
Step 1: When purchasing plants from a local nursery, select green plants that look fresh, are not too spindly or tall, and have new buds. Smaller plants are better because large plants have a nitrogen-rich diet that will cause more shock when being transplanted to your garden. Do not choose plants with any indication of disease or those with fruit or open flowers.
Plants sold in cell packs are usually less expensive than those offered in larger containers. However, potted plants tend to have a stronger root structure and do better when being transplanted. If you are purchasing vegetable plants, buy these early in the season. When a plant sits in a pot for a while, its root development can become stunted.
Step 2: Visits to the nursery should correspond with the planting time for the item being grown. Nursery plants should be hardened after purchase. Move the plants to a sheltered outdoor area for one to two hours a day. As the plants seem to adjust to the weather conditions, increase the outdoor time. After about two weeks, hardening should be complete. The plants should then successfully transition from their flats or containers to your garden.
Step 3: Fast growing vegetables like lettuce and radishes should be planted in a staggered manner so there will be a fresh supply throughout the harvesting months. Plant quick growing vegetables every two weeks and remember that different vegetable plants like different weather conditions. Broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce prefer cool ground. Plant these approximately one month before planting beans, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Step 4: Every vegetable plant has different fertilizing needs. Transplanted vegetable plants may be fertilized 3 or 4 weeks after being transplanted, depending on soil fertility. Cucumbers, squash, and other vine crops should be fertilized when they begin spreading and again while they are blooming. A 5-10-10 fertilizer provides a good balance. Organic fertilizers like fish meal or bone meal are also effective because they provide soil with non-chemical enrichment. Use 2 pounds of the selected fertilizer for every 25-foot row in the garden. Sprinkle fertilizer 6 to 8 inches from the stem of the plant and then work it loosely into soil.
Step 5: As plants die when the growing season ends, remove the remnants. Put these in a compost pile in a separate area of the garden. Compost is eco-friendly and makes excellent fertilizer for future growing seasons.