Q&A

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 and lettuces.

Thank you,
Coylie Ries
Iowa

 

DEAR COYLIE:

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 seedlings organically:

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.

Eileen


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 the compost.

April


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