DEAR NEW FARM:
This will be my second year raising transplants, mainly vegetables,
from seed. I have a small greenhouse and last year I did not
fertilize my plants enough, although I thought I was. Please
let me know what fertilizer brand name I should be using and
how often. I am raising tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbage
While most of us here at The New Farm are fairly experienced
backyard gardeners (organic, of course), there are two staff
members here at The Rodale Institute who are responsible for
starting all of the research and educational farm’s
garden vegetable and ornamental seed in the greenhouse and
in cold frames each year. These lush, vigorous seedlings compare
to none (and are coveted by us backyard gardeners, who are
always hoping they’ll have a few extra cells to throw
our way as the frost-free date creeps near).
So here’s what Garden Director Eileen Weinsteiger and
Horticulturalist April Johnson had to say about fertilizing
We use, and I recommend using,
a kelp-and-fish product. Freshly harvested kelp should be
processed at low temperatures. The enzymes that occur naturally
are isolated from the kelp and help break it down into a
rich brew. All of the active compounds are viable and ready
to stimulate the growth and productivity of most crops.
We use Kelpak, a product available from Agro-Organics, in
Jim Thorpe PA. Their phone number is 717-325-9250. Peaceful
Valley Farm Supply www.groworganic.com carries approximately
100 types of organic fertilizer products, with information
pertaining to nutrients, minerals, pH, nutrient release
rate, etc. Their contact number is 888-784-1722; they are
located in Grass Valley California.
I would recommend fish emulsion.
There are a lot of brands; make sure you use it as directed.
Also, I fertilize every two weeks. If I use compost, which
is the main material in our seed starting mix, I do not
fertilize as much—the plants get their nutrition from
us with comments, suggestions and questions.