If you’re like me, when you saw the first hint of Spring, the first thing you thought of was how much you really want a tomato. But not just any tomato, a homegrown tomato from your very own garden. Which of course can only mean it’s time to start getting your garden spot ready for tomato plants. This is a yearly tradition for me. Craving a tomato and preparing the garden.
It’s a lot of work. You have to dig. You have to weed. You have to break up big clumps of dirt. You have to remove all the rocks that mysteriously showed up over the winter. And then you have to re-remove all the rocks after your faithful dog retrieves said rocks and returns them to your garden. Oh and you have to replenish your soil to replace the nutrients your veggies borrowed from the ground last year. Wait, what?
That’s right. Every year the vegetables you plant borrow essential nutrients from your soil to grow and produce those wonderful fruits and veggies you love so much. And it’s up to you to put those nutrients back so the vegetable plants you plant this year can produce quality veggies again. Failure to do so can leave you with a less than bountiful harvest this growing season.
There are several ways to replenish your soil’s nutrients. Our best recommendation is to take a sample of your soil to your County Extension Office to be tested. They can tell you EXACTLY what your soil needs and what you should add for optimum growing results. But if you’re like me, you won’t go that route. I’m the type that always asks for directions, and then goes in a completely different route. So if you are like me, here are some alternatives.
1. Use Osomocote or a Time Released Fertilizer. Be sure to work the fertilizer into your soil and follow the instructions on the label exactly.
2. Add Compost, Manure, or Worm Castings. Compost and manure work better when added in the Fall and allowed to winter over, but you can add it now as long as you work it into your soil very well and they are well decomposed. If it is not decomposed enough, it will actually rob your plants of nitrogen to finish the decomposing process. And your plants NEED that nitrogen, so make sure it’s well decomposed.
3. Add Miracle Grow or a Water Soluble Fertilizer. Again, be sure to work it into the soil and don’t over fertilize. Follow the instructions on the label and only fertilize once every week or every two weeks.
4. Pray for Snow. According to Jason Parks and a few websites online, Snow is the ‘Poor Man’s Fertilizer’. Not only does Snow saturate your garden with lots of life giving water, it also saturates your garden with a ton of nitrogen which is an essential nutrient for your plant’s growth. (Personally, I’m putting my foot down at praying for Snow. But Jason swears it works. I’m skipping manure too, because it’s gross and it smells bad. But that’s just me.)