Plants want to grow, but there are a few things you can do to help them along. Here are Our Tried and True Tips:
Transplant at the end of the day and water in; or transplant during a cloudy or rainy day. Disturb root systems as little as possible, placing plant gently in soil and firming root ball in.
Transplant to a healthy, fertile garden soil- use compost if at all possible. At Cate Farm, we believe compost is better than snake oil! Compost retains moisture in sandy soils and impedes water-logging in poorly drained soils. Compost is full of microorganisms necessary for a healthy soil and healthy plants. For garden analysis, inexpensive soil tests are available from the Extension service.
Raised beds warm up faster, provide lots of growing depth, and good drainage for air and water.
Protect frost sensitive plants (basil, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, marigolds, cosmos, zinnias…) from temperatures below 33˚F by using floating row covers, or tarps, sheets or plastic. Our frost free season usually starts the last of May and lasts until the beginning/middle of September. Row covers may be used to provide earlier and better yields. Frost hardy plants (lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, onions, leeks, most herbs, sweet peas, perennials…) also benefit from the use of row covers, but are usually transplanted outside unprotected. Cate Farm hardens off seedlings by moving them from the greenhouse to cold-frames or outdoors, where wind and rain strengthen the tops. Many plants can withstand a hard freeze, such as onions and lettuce.
Space plants far enough apart so that when they are full grown they are not crowded.
Most plants prefer full sun. Ask us which plants are candidates for shady areas.
Keep weeds under control. Plants thrive with less competition from weeds for light, water, and nutrients.
The hairs on the stem will develop into roots, so prune off lower leaves and bury them deep (or lay them on their side in a trench and bend the growing tip up above the soil).
Prune off any open flowers at time of transplanting; generally, it is preferable to transplant any plant before it flowers.
Row covers and plastic mulch will provide earlier and heavier yields. Keep plants off the ground for better air circulation to aid in disease control.
Some gardeners prune suckers to get earlier fruit.
Determinate varieties stop growing taller by themselves, while indeterminate tomatoes will keep growing like Jack’s beanstalk - pruning the top of the plant will keep it from going through the clouds.
UVM Extension - soil testing services, and everything from gardening resources to pest management.
Richard Wiswall - Richard offers individual consulting for farmers and he teaches workshops. He also wrote The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff - and Making a Profit.