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Feed vegetable garden first, so it can feed you more

Consider adding some compost to your vegetable garden. It offers needed nutrients as well as organic material for soil.
Consider adding some compost to your vegetable garden. It offers needed nutrients as well as organic material for soil. Big Stock

For bigger harvests this summer, put your veggie garden on a regular diet.

Set up a monthly feeding program, starting this weekend, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants.

Organic fertilizers offer a balance of nutrients to help feed the soil as well as the plants while cutting down on possible chemical salt build-up. Instead of high numbers (such as 20-20-20), look for a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Those numbers refer to the percentage of that nutrient found in the fertilizer. Summer vegetables in particular need a little extra phosphorus and potassium for flower and fruit production; a big boost of nitrogen makes all vine and leaves and no tomatoes.

There are other benefits to organics. Compost, an example of a natural 3-1-2 fertilizer, adds needed organic material to the soil as well as those macro-nutrients, feeding the soil’s microorganisms as well as the vegetables. Bone meal, a great source of phosphorus, can prompt more flowering and fruiting on tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant.

▪ Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash seedlings. Do this early in the day before temperatures rise. They’ll need extra water their first few weeks; rising heat and excessive wind can dry soil out quickly.

▪  Plant seeds for melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes and annual herbs such as basil. Keep soil moist (not wet) and they’ll sprout quickly.

▪  In the flower garden, plant seeds for salvia, sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, celosia and asters. You also can transplant seedlings for many of those same flowers.

▪ Harvest fava beans, radishes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

▪ For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering shrubs and perennials.

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