Archive for the ‘Seasonal Tips’ Category

Fertilizing in the Extremes of Summer!

Summer has finally arrived! For most people this is the time of year for vacations, family picnics and lots of back yard activity! For gardeners, we look forward to being outside tending to our gardens. The daily routine of placing new plants, weeding, picking the flowers or vegetables and occasionally watering the plants allows us to fully enjoy this great passion called horticulture!

Tips for Fertilizing When it’s too Wet!
Rain, rain and more rain! There can be too much of a good thing and too much water can be damaging to your hanging baskets, container and bedding plants. Heavy rainfall can physically damage your plant by removing leaves and flowers as well as over-saturating the soil or container media. Several rainy days with limited sunlight will wash away (leach) almost all the stored up nutrients in the root zone and slow your plants’ uptake of water and nutrients. This can leave your plants looking hungry. The most common nutrient deficiencies encountered under these conditions are of nitrogen and potassium. Deficiencies of these very important nutrients can result in slow growing, stunted plants with paler green or yellow leaves.
A good way to make sure your plants are still receiving the nutrients they need to grow is to use a balanced time release fertilizer. Jack’s ClassiCote with CrystalGreen 15-8-23 is specifically designed to gradually release into the root zone. The recommended rates of application are:
For hanging baskets and containers: 1 Tablespoon per 10 inch basket
For bedding plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs: 1 Tablespoon per sq. foot of planting bed
For new plants: 1 teaspoon per sq. foot of planting bed
Each application of  will last for up to 4 months at 70°F; however, you may need to make a repeat application as soon as 2 months later in a hot and rainy season.
After a heavy rainfall check your baskets and containers to see if your time release fertilizer has been washed out. Re-apply if necessary. Once clear weather returns, it may be necessary to follow up with an application of Jack’s Classic water soluble fertilizer, either General Purpose 20-20-20 or Blossom Booster 10-3-20 or a combination of the two, at a rate of 1Tablespoon per gallon of water.

Tips for Fertilizing when it’s too Dry!
A long spell of hot weather without any rain can lead to temporary drought conditions. Certain annuals and perennials are more drought tolerant than others and are the best choices if you live in an area that is often plagued by summer droughts. These plants employ characteristics that help the plant conserve water such as a long tap root and hairy or fuzzy leaves.
Plants grown in containers, whether considered drought tolerant or not, will require regular watering and routine fertilization to provide the plant with the daily water and nutrients it needs for healthy growth. Plants grown in the soil tend to tolerate drought conditions slightly better due to the increased moisture and nutrient holding capacity of the soil.
To conserve water, you can use a small child’s plastic pool, for several potted plants or any old water-tight container to collect the run off water. This water can be easily “recycled” into watering another set of plants.
A couple easy ways to water your plants with “grey” or recycled water:
1. Instead of emptying your pet’s water dish in the sink, pour it into a potted plant.
2. Rinse vegetables in a large bowl instead of under running water. The water from the vegetables can be used to water plants.
3. Collect rain water. If using this method, make sure you place a tight fitting lid on the collection container to keep out any mosquitoes.

Many beginner or “weekend gardeners” incorrectly assume that once a flower is planted in the ground it will grow into a healthy plant. After all, the plant is in the earth, what more does it need? This is almost a guarantee that the plant will fail!
What more does a plant need? Macro and secondary nutrients, in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K); also calcium (Ca), magnesium and sulfur (S). It doesn’t stop there; if it did, almost any fertilizer would do. The plant also requires trace elements or micronutrients (nutrients that are essential to plant growth, but required in smaller amounts). Micronutrients include: iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), boron (B), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and molybdenum (Mo). All of these nutrients are taken up or absorbed by the plant’s roots and used by the plant to maintain healthy growth. Most, if not all standard potting mixes, are lacking these vital nutrients, so it is up to YOU to supply them using soluble or time released fertilizers!

A healthy plant will outlast and out perform every time. In times of extreme weather additional steps may be necessary to help your plant maintain a favorable environment however your extra attention will be rewarded with a healthy beautiful plant!

Dianthus_JoltPinkF1-AAS2015-Landscape-crop

Growing Tomatoes with Jack’s

Things are really moving now in the garden with the onset of the warmer temperatures. Your transplants should be responding to their new environment and producing new growth. The root systems are ready to take up all the nutrients they need to maximize their bud set and flower initiation.

Here is the feeding program I use for my tomato plants and some of the reasons I use it.

• After transplanting the tomatoes I want to get them off to a great start. In order to do that you need to provide plenty of phosphorus to the root system which has not yet spread out in the soil. I use the Jack’s Classic® Blossom Booster 10-30-20 at 1 tablespoon per gallon when I set the plants in place.

• After the first week I come back and make my first application of Jack’s Classic® 20-20-20. This 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer is just what the plant needs to grow in mass with plenty of new leaves and thick stems that will be the factories to produce lots of energy that will give you a high fruit yield. I repeat these feedings every 10 days to make certain there are no nutrient stresses to hold back production.

• Tomatoes respond well to increased levels of magnesium in the feed program. Be sure to add some additional Epsom salts (1 teaspoon per gallon) to your fertilizer applications. Your leaves will develop a deep green in response to the fertilizer applications and the increased magnesium.

• After the first month I switch my feeding program to a combination of 1 tablespoon of 20-20-20 and 1 tablespoon of 10-30-20 in 2 gallons. That combination makes a 15-25-20 fertilizer, which is a great formulation to feed as the plants are setting buds and fruit. Stick with this combination until all your fruit is set and the first of the fruit is starting to turn red

• From this point on I stick with the Blossom Booster 10-30-20. The high potassium will let the fruit finish nicely. Apply the fertilizers every 10 days or so right through the end of the crop.

Herb Gardening Success

Herb Gardening Success

Check out this great blog post by one of our Jack’s Classic users. Now is the time to be planting your herb gardens here in PA. Thanks for the shout-out, Jan.

The Gray Days of Winter

In the cool, gray days of the winter, a formula such as ‘Dark Weather’ 15-0-15 can be an essential tool for regulating growth.

When the weather is cool with little sunlight, plants take up less water and nutrients leaving the applied fertilizer to sit in the root zone for prolonged periods of time. In addition, the cool temperatures slow down the rate of conversion of the different forms of nitrogen. Damage to the roots can occur if a fertilizer formula with high ammonium nitrogen  (NH4) content is used in these conditions.

Rotating the ‘Dark Weather’ formula into your fertilizer schedule will provide the plant with calcium nitrate (CaNO3), a form of nitrogen that is easily taken up in the root zone. This will greatly reduce the potential for damage to the roots of the plant and provide solid, balanced nutrition under these conditions.

Dark Weather’ 15-0-15 is a very a good tool to have on hand to serve many purposes including, low phosphorous growing, a calcium boost in times of reduced transpiration and holding plants for a later ship date.