My veggies are growing. Now what?
summit daily news
A ladybug crawled on the greens in The Living Classroom’s community garden in Frisco – and Susie Lothnagel from Summit Landscaping said that’s a good thing.
“Ladybugs can keep the aphids away,” she said. Aphids are small insects that don’t chew plants but instead pierce and suck out plant fluids, leaving behind curled and yellow leaves and stunting plant growth.
Other ways to control pests are to co-plant flowers among the garden vegetables, or to spray heavily diluted soap and water on the plants. Stores also sell pest control substances to help.
There wasn’t much sign of pests in the Frisco garden during Thursday’s workshop for gardeners on what to do when their vegetables start to grow. Lothnagel and High Country Conservation Center’s Jen Santry led the discussion.
It’s now that gardeners should think about adding fertilizer to their crop, Lothnagel said. She recommended several organic options, including Happy Frog, Big Bloom (for flowering plants) and Grow Big. It’s best to fertilize according to instructions about ones a week.
“I feel like I can sit and watch my plants grow after this,” she said, adding that the goal is to encourage cellular development in the green plants, and a product high in nitrogen helps. Flowering plants, such as peppers and tomatoes, thrive off phosphorous and potassium.
It’s also about now that gardeners should be paying attention to how their plants are behaving. As they grow, many seek to re-seed by shooting out a flowering component that should be pinched off.
“The plant is sending its energy into the flower,” Lothnagel said. “You want energy going into the stalks.”
Another competitor for nutrition and energy is weeds.
“You should pull your weeds because they’re competing with your plants for everything you’re giving them,” Santry said.
Some plants may be growing more slowly because it’s their nature or because seeds were planted too deep – both of which can be discouraging. But it’s August and September where “it just explodes,” Lothnagel said. She recommends being prepared, with fertilizers, regular watering (extreme heat in August can cause wilting and can make greens bitter), and thinking about re-seeding single-growth items like carrots, onions, radishes, beets and more.
Depending on how long these took to grow from seed in spring, plants may have just enough time to grow a second time before fall harvest. Onions generally take a month to grow, for example.
Some gardeners asked what to do with huge harvests of the same vegetable. Santry and Lothnagel said to get creative – recipes exist for all types of vegetables, and one community gardener suggested using trimmed broccoli leaves, which are otherwise thrown away or composted, in stir fry.
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