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Keyword Search Results for:
Vegetables

19 Found

Question: 501-1111
We have been using bagged top soil in our raised beds. We have not had much success growing our Vegetables. Could the soil be the problem? Ronnie, Memphis, TN

Mort's Answer:
Many producers of top soil will use virgin top soil from the woods. These soils have a lot of humus and can be fertile. They may also have pathogens. Farm soil from acerage that has been stripped for development is the best, if the farm has not used herbicides. If soil amendments are used, they could include anything from sewerage to grass clippings and leaves. Often not these less expensive soils have been sterilized, you are dealing with a real wild card. There are good brands of top soil that do test their soils before packaging. Another possibility for your poor performance could be caused by leaching of creosote from rail road ties, if you are using them.

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Question: 559-2411
Can you recommend vegetables for mostly shade gardens? Harv, Wiston-Salem, NC

Mort's Answer:
Leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce will thrive, if planted early enough. I would stay away from head lettuce. The heat of North Carolina would make them bolt, if you planted them in June. You could plant them in the fall. Most herbs will do well in partial shade. If you have planted tomatoes, they will produce some fruit but not as heavy as in the sun. Sixty day tomatoes that are indeterminate will give a good amount of fruit.

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Question: 575-2811
I live in MI, and it seems that the weather is a month behind. It is warm into October now. Is there still time to plant vegetable seed that were not started inside? I was reading this gardening book. It stated that cucumbers (I think) were to be 18 inches deep in the soil. Is this the case? Is this only if they were grown some inside? Ryan

Mort's Answer:
You can start radishes, leafy vegetables and melons. I do not believe any vegetable seed planted that deep will emerge on time. You can plant melons, squash and pumpkin with four seeds on an elevated mound for fall harvesting. If you have hot weather now, 60 day tomato plants and pepper plants should make it before frost.

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Question: 697-712
Is wood ash good for the growing vegetables? Our soil is alkaline. Anita, Gettysburg, SD

Mort's Answer:
Wood ash contains roughly 5% potash. When we talk about NPK, we are talking about nitrogen, phosphorus and lastly, potash. Potash is an important element in root production. Potatoes, beets, and carrots all benefit from an adequate amount of potash. If you apply large amounts of wood ash, your soil will approach neutral and then acidic. Ideal pH for most vegetables would be sightly acidic. Smaller amounts of potash each year will maintain an alkaline pH. The perfect organic fertilizer would be would be manure, bonemeal and potash. Copious amounts of manure and other organic material are needed to supply sufficient nitrogen and balance the other two components.

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Question: 698-712
When is a good time to start veggies? Ron, Austin, TX

Mort's Answer:
Cool weather vegetables can be started outdoors now in zone 7 south. Because your soil is so difficult to work in Austin, I would recommend using raised beds that are at least 18 inches tall with six inches of sand at the bottom. You can start warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants indoors now. Warm weather veggies require 6-8 weeks indoors before setting outdoors. Since you have not had a frost this winter, you are good to go.

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Question: 710-1012
I started all kinds of veggies in one inch peat pots. They are up to three inches now. I usually lose a lot because they become too weak. Any suggestions before I move them into four inch pots? Katie, Marquette, MI

Mort's Answer:
You have a ruining start. Because you are in zone 5, you might be too early for warm weather vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and melons. Cool weather leafy veggies can be put outdoors before the last average frost date. You will need to harden off all of the plants. First you need more light. For the next few weeks, strengthen the stems with grow lights for at least three additional hours per day. Auxin, the growth hormone, will be inhibited by light. We need chlorophyl for growth but darkness produces spindly growth. Take your veggies outdoors on the days that are over 45 degrees. At these lower temps cell growth will be smaller and toughen the plants for transplant to outdoors. Lettuce, kale, cabbage and other leafy vegetables can survive frosts. Tomatoes and other warm vegetables will suffer damage in the frosty weather. The average last frost date in zone 5 is May 30th. It is May 15th in zone 6. You need about 8-10 weeks to grow tomatoes, melons, peppers and other fruit veggies before setting them out. You can slow them up with more light at this time. Your lettuce and other leafy veggies can be put out a month earlier, around April 15-30.

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Question: 726-1412
What vegetables should not be planted together? Katie, Marquette, MI

Mort's Answer:
Our native Indians planted corn with squash underneath. Cucumis plants , which include melons and squash are all very wide vines that can grow ten feet in every direction. They will literally overshadow smaller plants like radishes and even some tomatoes. Herbs would suffer under squash and melons. Watermelons should be 90 day varieties in zone 6. I do not recommend planting corn unless you have a half acre. They use up too much space for too little harvest. Onion family plants are good exterior plants to ward of insects. Creeping Jenny aka Creeping Charlie or Moneywort will survive but will leap into for lawn. It can be a pernicious weed.

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Question: 730-1512
What vegetables can I plant near my walnut tree? Dick, Richmond,IN

Mort's Answer:
Walnuts have a large taproot that goes straight down. They do not interfere as much as maples that are shallow rooted. Oak trees actually emit a substance that inhibits growth of other plants underneath. Plants that require a lot of sun like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes will not flourish because of the shade. Herbs, leafy vegetables and melon types will do well. Dig good size holes to accommodate new plants to insure a good start.

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Question: 738-1712
Besides raised beds, can I use some containers for my vegetables? Stephanie, Austin,TX

Mort's Answer:
Half whiskey barrels are often sold as planters. They are deep enough to accommodate root vegetables. Old wooden eaves are now used as planters. They can be used to grow herbs and leafy veggies. Clay pots come in large sizes for larger fruit type veggies, like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. They could be painted dark brown to match the whiskey barrel or tan to match the clay.You could add red eaves to harmonize. This could be a lot of fun.

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Question: 774-2612
What kind of vegetables can I start now? I have sunflowers that are about three feet tall and are growing wild everywhere. Can I cut them back to save water? We have black soil near a river bed. John, Austin, TX

Mort's Answer:
Wild flowers can be used as ground cover. They are expendable, when you need to plant other plants. If you wait until the seed has dried, they will self sow for next year. You can cut them back to a foot now, if you have too many this year. That will save a lot of water. They may not bloom again this summer. There are many hot weather vegetables that can be planted now in Austin. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and cucumbers grow readily in hot weather.

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Question: 789-2912
What are vegetable plants that I can plant now in my new hoop greenhouse? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
Hot weather veggies that could also be put in the ground like 60 day tomatoes , peppers and small egg plant should do well. You need to wait another month for lettuce and other leafy plants. Be sure to have good fans for ventilation. The bottom can also be role up to allow air to come into the greenhouse. You will need cold air to cool the greenhouse down particularly in the winter for leafy plants like kale and spinach.

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Question: 823-3912
With all the drought that has affected our crops, is there a possibility that this will produce vegetable seeds that are good candidates for heritage seeds? Can you tell us how to dry and store them? Dave, San Francisco, CA

Mort's Answer:
Heritage seeds have been tried by nature throughout the ages. Many can be traced by to the Incas and other native Americans. No doubt the strongest do survive. Farmers may try to save the seeds from their best plants but this does not qualify them as heritage yet. Heritage seeds come from Heritage plants. You can dry your vegetable seeds on a screen outdoors away from critters. You can also use hydrators to dry them indoors. Dried seeds should be stored in a cool dry place for the winter. Brown paper bags are the best containers as are dry cellars for storage.

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Question: 864-5012
Last year I may have started my vegetable plants indoors a little early in four inch pots. Can I start them in much larger pots? Katie, Marquette, MI

Mort's Answer:
Folks in zone five can use an interim transplant by using four inch peat pots. After the seedlings have sprouted in flats, they can be moved to peat pots. The advantage with peat is that it can be inserted in a six or eight inch plastic pot before putting them in the garden. Tomatoes, papers and eggplant should be planted one per four inch pot. Cucumbers, melons and squash need four of these large seeds to a four inch pot because they grow in every direction along the ground. People in zone six can plant directly from the peat peat to the gardens. In zones south through 10, seeds can be planted directly to the garden because of the warmer start. A lot of folks want to start indoors regardless for that fast start. Keeping roots restricted will promote plant vigor.

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Question: 985-3113
My vegetables in containers have a lot of foliage and hardy any buds. Some of them are turning yellow. I used good potting soil. Patricia,Cranston, RI

Mort's Answer:
Excess rain has caused a lot of plants to turn yellow. Good soil does not have enough sand to provide drainage, especially this year. Some soils come with fertilizer but most folks add more to speed up fruition. You have a disproportionate amount of nitrogen to phosphorus and potash. This is indicated by the great looking foliage. A lot of flowers were not pollinated this year because of the rainy month of June. Be patient and moderate the amount of water. Next year add a third sand to your soil.

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Question: 1112-1714
Last year I tried starting vegetables from seed. I used an inch of sand on the top without too much success. They did not do well. What did I do wrong? Valerie, Ashburnham, MA

Mort's Answer:
Too much sand does require too much water. A quarter inch layer of sand at the top of the potting soil will prevent dampening off. Draw a line in the sand to hold the seeds. The seedlings will root in the potting soil while being drained at the surface. Do not water except on the first day. Each day after planting, you need to only mist the seedlings with a spritzer. Give them lots of sunlight after they have sprouted. Do not fertilize the seedlings. When they are about five inches, you can transplant to peat pots.

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Question: 1118-1814
My friend has a shady yard. She wants to plant same vegetables. There are nearby pecans and oak trees in the wood giving the shade. She is also handicapped. Any suggestions? Tom, St. Louis, MO

Mort's Answer:
You could get permission to cut the trees down. This is only a temporary solution. She can plant container gardens. If she uses short term 60 day tomatoes, peppers and eggplant , you could grab some early sunlight before the trees open up. Melons, cukes and squash also require a lot of sunlight. Radishes will come in 30 days. I would purchase a tomato plant with the flowers present and shoot for a 45 day fruition on small fruits like plum, cherry and grape tomatoes. They love the heat, however. You can probably find a sunny spot for raised beds. There are some very good plastic ones with interlocking joints available. Lettuce, cabbage and other leafy veggies like cool temps and they can do good enough in some shade, especially where you are in the summer.

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Question: 1236-1115
Should we wait longer this year to start our vegetable seeds? Joanne, Groton, CT

Mort's Answer:
My best guess is that we will be one or two weeks later this year because of the snow cover in zone six and most other areas. I am advocating extending outdoor planting until May 23rd , which is eight days later than our average last frost date in zone 6. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and other hot weather veggies need to be seeded indoors about six to eight weeks before planting out doors. So you can start the beginning of April. Cool weather cabbages, lettuces and other leafy plants can be planted a month before the last average frost date. We should be able to plant them outdoors April 15. That will not tax them and they can be planted now indoors. I usually plant small seeds in rows in trays and transplant them into peat pots individually. Large seeds can be planted directly into peat pots. I put two or three in each pot. We should put the cool veggies in as early as possible this year to prevent bolting because of a quick jump in temps.

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Question: 1241-1315
We live north of Santa Fe at 6000 ft. elevation. We use a lot of straw bale plantings for our vegetables. We buy the plants for planting around mid May. It looks like we will have to wait longer this year. Granny, New Mexico

Mort's Answer:
Straw bale growing has become quite popular as of late. It works well on hard surfaces like driveways. Bales of straw act as planters and do not require any soil but more fertilizer to treat the bales. Because you are in zone 6 like myself, it is a good idea to plan for a later than usual last frost. Our last average frost day in zone 6 is May15 as you indicated. This will be a problem throughout most of the USA this year. This winter of discontent will test our skills as gardeners. One payoff should be that there will be a lot less insects but probably more fungi to fight. That will not be fun at all.

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Question: 1295-3615
We have been using bagged top soil in our raised beds. We have not had much success growing our vegetables. Could the soil be the problem? Ronnie, Memphis, TN

Mort's Answer:
Many producers of top soil will use virgin top soil from the woods. These soils have a lot of humus and can be fertile. They may also have pathogens. Farm soil that has been stripped for development is the best, if the farm has not used herbicides. If soil amendments are used, they could include anything from sewerage to grass clippings and leaves. Often not these less expensive soils have been sterilized, you are dealing with a real wild card. There are good brands of top soil that do test their soils before packaging. Another possibility for your poor performance could be caused by leaching of creosote from railroad ties, if you are using them.

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