By Paul Kavanaugh
That’s a great question this time of the year. When do you plant what? Is your soil ready for the season? How about the fertilizer? We chatted with Denise Torbett at Torbett’s Plant Farm in Piney Flats to gain some insight on how to do it right.
No matter what you are planting, you need to properly prepare your soil. Getting the weeds out and generally cleaning up the area is the very first step. But then, before you start any planting, broadcast some fertilizer over the entire area and then till the garden to get it all mixed up. Direct fertilizer can burn plants, so it is quite important to get it mixed in to the soil.
So now, when to do the planting. Well, the cool weather crops, onions, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli can all go in now. A late freeze should not hurt them, nor does cool weather. The staples of most local gardens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, zucchini, eggplant, etc. have a different planting premise. These will not grow until the ground begins to get warm. The traditional date is Mother’s Day – Denise says just use May 10 as your target.
She recommends a 10-10-10 fertilizer, which refers to the three main ingredients, nitrogen, phosphate and potash. But do NOT put a little fertilizer in each hole as you plant. This will tend to burn out your plants because it is too strong – use the aforementioned broadcast and till method. Later, as your garden starts to mature, and you want to use some additional fertilizer, don’t put it on the plants themselves – dig a small trench near the plants and put it in there. It will reach the plants without doing any harm. I missed this tip last year and hurt my tomatoes as we went along. Didn’t wreck the whole crop, but definitely held production down.
The helpful staff at Torbett’s are always happy to answer questions and point you in the right direction. They are stocking a huge variety of garden ready plants this year, getting them started in their greenhouse. Denise says a couple varieties of tomatoes, the German Johnson and the Old Timey Yellow with Red Center are going to bee very popular this year as are her Excursion peppers in multiple colors and flavors.
Good luck on your garden. Be sure to call The Loafer when your tomatoes start to come in and we will be more than happy to help you eat them!