Documents: Special Interest: What we grow to eat:

Vegetables - Give Them What They Need
by Pearl A. Herder
November 25, 1999

The proper feeding and nutrition of the vegetable plant is very important and is exhibited by plant signals. Plants do not talk but communicate to us by showing growth, flowering and fruiting. It is in these stages that the proper nourishment must be given. Record what feeding works the best for your plants at these times and the quality of the plant after feedings. Feeding too much or too little of any one nutrient will show in the plants leaves. For example,if you overfeed the plant, the leaves will turn brown as if scorched. If the plant does not have enough of the right nutrients it will have a dull green color and not be as productive. I will discuss peppers and tomatoes at this time.

PEPPERS-"If you can't stand the heat,get out of the kitchen" Not so for peppers,they LOVE the heat and thrive under these conditions. Start seeds in the house at 70 degrees F and when well started (growing in a soil mix with powdered bone meal) transplant to their final growing pot. Pots with inside diameter of eight inches and eight and one quarter inches high. Peppers like calcium nitrate added to the top of the soil at transplanting time. Do not sprinkle too close to the stem itself. One feeding 20-20-20 at flowering time,and when the fruit are growing.


The GARDEN SALSA is the hot pepper to try if you like them hot. Just one plant supplies enough for a large family. When cutting up this pepper use caution. Wear protective gloves while slicing and do not get the juice on any part of your body. I speak from experience...I cut up a few GARDEN SALSA peppers for the dehydrator and did not wear gloves. My hands were on fire for three days and burning. I ate a small piece of a hotter variety of pepper used in a relish I was making awhile back. You only do that once! In that instance I could have been that cartoon know the one I mean,running around like crazy and jumping into the water trough and drinking all the water dry. Water does not work. It works for putting out fires but not the peppers fire in your body. I am sure there are many stories to relate with hot peppers and peoples'experiences with them.

TOMATOES- Grow seedlings inside. As they become hardened to the hothouse plant deep in the ground to the first "leaves" (actually called cotyledon). Quarter to half cup of bone meal in the soil. Let the tomato plant grow. Do not fertilize. As the plant is getting taller place support stakes such as a tomato wire bracket into the ground. While the tomato plant is growing and before the flowers come you must prune off extra growth between the branches. So monitor this constantly by removing these green leaves of new growth. The plant will concentrate on fruit production which you want,instead of more growth which you do not want.

At the flowering stage:Our soil is very deficient in phosphorus,therefore I sprinkle 11-55-0 granular around the circumference of the root area. On the same day,I mound up the soil around the stem area as high as possible. Two days later one treatment of 18-18-24 soluble. I have tried many varieties and the tomato that works the best for my soil has been PRESIDENT.This variety has large sized fruit and are uniform and tasty.

Now if you want to grow those huge tomatoes you must purchase that specific seed to begin with. Looking through garden catalogues and garden centers you will find the variety of tomato you are interested in growing being huge,early fruiting,small fruit etc.

What I look forward to is having that large juicy tomato to slice up and use in a sandwich or just fresh with alittle sprinkle of salt. A favorite of ours is freshly dehydrated onions, a cracked pepper or spicy pepper spice sprinkled on the sliced tomatoes on fresh bread. Delicious! Also dehydrated tomatoes are a real treat and have a strong tomato flavor.

I have placed tomatoes in this article as a vegetable but actually they are a fruit.

There are many variables involved in vegetable gardening. That is what makes gardening so fascinating and challenging. No year as far as weather is the same and there are so many plants and vegetables to test out next year.

Experiment,record,find results that work for you. I know I will always try new methods to see if I can improve. Wishing you all great growing experiences. Drop me a note about your experiences.

Vegetables-Give Them What They Need.

Pearl A. Herder Email:

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row