Growing and Knowing — Part 3

Photo by Ron Frazier

Photo by Ron Frazier

The garden is our happy place. Now that your plants have been successfully transplanted and you’ve dealt with the mourning associated with the seedlings that have withered and browned. It is important that when you notice the transplants fade— once the stem has shrunken and lost its vitality — to remove the plant from life support and pluck it.

Plucking plants is daunting at first. You feel a connection — you’ve watched them go from seeds in a package to something that is living. But it’s time to let go. The plants that are losing life are still absorbing tons of nutrients from the soil, and are taking away from the life-force of the thriving plants. Failure to pluck them will essentially rob your garden of the optimal harvest. Not to mention, “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch,” spreading death down through the stem of the plant. After removing the dead leaves the stems will rejuvenate and bloom new healthy leaves.

Another key reason to pull your precious plant babies as if they were weeds is to avoid crowding in the planter box. On occasion, seeds that weren’t fertilized in the transplanted soil bloom if there has been rain, or simply because they want to. Removing extra plants that are growing is also important. Too many plants in a planter will once again deplete the soil of nutrients and cause imminent plant death.

As the plants mature, they will face a couple of problems that can be solved with natural and organic solutions. The most common is bugs. A trip to the local CVS or hardware store with a gardening section will offer an organic spray solution that will deter the bugs from ingesting the plants before they have time to reach adulthood. There are a few potentially free options too, depending on what is available in your house. Cayenne pepper sprinkled over the soil in your planter box along with orange peels are handy tools to help keep the critters off your hard work.

Molds and funguses are other silent predators out to get your plants before you do. When growing plants become molded, you will notice the color of the leaves or the stem change color or consistency— some leaves look white or web-like and others may take on a yellow or orange color. It is suggested that you spray for this because the mold will ruin the entire crop if it is not handled correctly. The same local store that has organic pesticides will have an organic fungicide as well, and these are composed of safe mixtures of spices and peppers that are supposed to help kill off the mold while remaining safe to eat. It is import-
ant to not wait for mold problems in the garden.

Mold is also a sign that you are either watering your plants too often, giving them too much water when you are watering them, or watering them at a poor time of day. Switch up the patterns of showering your plants if you are watering them during the evening to during the morning time to give the water time to dry out in the soil.

That is it. You have everything you need to continue your progress and take your power back. As the plants grow, don’t pick them too early; let them come to their full potential in order to fully reap the benefits of these months of cultivation. When the food comes from your backyard, “farm to table” in the traditional sense seems far away.

Welcome to the world of green thumbs!