The Q&A Archives: stunted growth

Question: This year all my vegetables only grew to about half their normal size. This included tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumber, strawberries. My tomatoes were the size of a golf ball, and eggplants the size of an egg. What should I put in the soil now or next spring or use for fertilizer. My weeds grew better than ever this year.

Thank you, Bill

Answer: Poor growth in all your veggies is probably weather related, but planting them in the sunniest spot possible, in the best garden loam possible will improve your harvest, without a doubt. You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start this fall by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the vegetable bed. You can use compost, aged manure, shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. You can plant now for a fall harvest (leaf lettuces, spinach, beans, kale, and other cool season veggies) or you can wait and plant your veggies in the spring. After planting your veggies, mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular vegetable garden. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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