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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Problems When Planting Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant

Two  Major Problems When Planting in Desert Garden Soils

The first problem regards the organic content of the soil. When growing many vegetables, they perform better with improved soil aeration around the roots. This is not necessarily true of root crops such as carrots or onions but is more important for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and the like.

To improve soil aeration add a 1 inch layer of compost and dig or till it in each growing season. If you use compost make sure you pay attention to the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N) of that compost. The lower the carbon to nitrogen ratio, the more nitrogen is added to that garden soil. If the carbon to nitrogen ratio is 20:1 or lower, you may not need to add any nitrogen fertilizer for 1 to 2 months after transplanting. Adding a rich compost with a low carbon to nitrogen ratio and then adding a high nitrogen fertilizer at the same time may result in very bushy plants with no flowers until the nitrogen begins to run out.

The second problem involves water. Garden soils and soils in raised beds have additional compost added to them prior to planting. Frequently compost and soil mixes blended in desert environments are high in salts. These are not the bad salts but they are good salts in high enough concentration where they might damage plants if soils remain dry at the time of planting. This is usually not true in wetter environments with higher humidity.

Be sure to keep garden soils wet at the time of planting and immediately water the soil around transplants to remove air pockets and dilute any salts that may be present.

Do the same thing when planting from seed. Make sure the soils does not dry between irrigations until you begin to see strong growth from the seeds. Seedlings of many plants are less tolerant to salts, whether they are good salts are bad salts, than the mature form of the same plant.

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