The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing Seedlings

Question: How should I fertilize my pepper and tomato seedlings?

Answer: The easiest way is to feed as you water. "I give transplants a constant, lean diet every time I water them. Use one-quarter the recommended amount of fertilizer per gallon of water," says Bruce Butterfield, Director of Gardening Market Research here at the National Gardening Association. Take care not to overfeed them, though, or they may grow too quickly. Nancy Bubel's book, "The New Seedstarter's Handbook", recommends using one tablespoon of fish emulsion per gallon of water, and if you're growing in a soilless medium (like vermiculite) dose them twice a week. If you're using a soil-based growing medium, a 10-14 day schedule is plenty.<br><br>Are your seedlings growing right now? If so, will you be growing the plants in a greenhouse? Ideally, peppers and tomatoes should be started about 6 weeks before your last frost date, so they'll be in prime shape for transplanting. If you start too early, your plants can get overgrown and even begin blossoming before you transplant them. Unfortunately, these blossoms aren't a good sign - they signal stress rather than success. Transplants should be vigorously growing young plants that, when put in the ground, will put on lots of vine and leaves to support a good crop of fruit.<br><br><br> <br>

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