I had a conversation the other day with a long time reader of TMG who has the same inclination about organic gardening as I do — and that is: — to come as close to organic as I possibly can. And as I’m sure you know, that can be difficult at times. Every time you turn around you find something else is polluted or has chemical residues that will be harmful.
Our conversation started discussing the condition of her tomato seedlings. They weren’t as robust as she would have liked and she was wondering what I thought. Although it can be comforting to ask someone else, she really already knew how they would probably do based on last years results. What really needed to be discussed (and was) was what she could do to get the seedlings to look better. But that’s a topic for another post.
By the way, have you already guessed how her less-than-robust little seedlings will probably do? If you’ve already read about what happened to me last year with my peppers in the post, It Ain’t Necessarily So you’ve guessed that they’ll do fine.
In spite of the fact that her seedlings looked the same last year as they do this year — once planted in the garden they grew large and gave her tons of tomatoes — many more than she could use. And you might be interested in knowing that was only her second year of gardening and only the first year of trying to improve the soil!
Yes, it’s amazing what those plants can do in spite of us. 🙂
Back on Topic
Before calling me she had just visited one of the garden centers to get some straw and had seen how great their seedlings looked. Then she had wondered if she shouldn’t get a few of their plants as a back up just in case and was asking me what I thought. Would they be harmful to her garden?
It’s pretty hard to tell someone else what they should do, but I can tell:
What I’ve done in the past – What I think — and Why:
Years ago I would buy 8 tomato plants and 8 pepper plants at a garden center to get me started earlier. Totally at the mercy of the weather I started my plants (warm weather crops included) in a flat, on the ground, and uncovered during April each year. I knew nothing of the wintersown method and other ways around not having an inside set up for starting seed. And I must say, there were years that my seedlings looked as bad or worse than my readers.
I knew Miracle Grow® was a chemical product nurseries probably used, but I didn’t know to what extend it was harmful as I do now. I also didn’t know about the company – Scotts — and their partners — Monsanto. I did know that chemicals force the ground — or the plant. That was the fact that made me know the principle was wrong and I never used it.
But then I figured although the seedlings had had a steady diet of Miracle Grow® to make them look beautiful while they awaited a buyer— they’d outgrow it and thrive once they got in my garden soil. When first planted they always had withdrawal symptoms. After about a month of looking like they might die, they’d finally take root and grow like crazy. They’d give me lots of produce, even though I always noticed more symptoms of various blights on those plants than on the ones I had grown myself.
Even though I’m not buying any seedlings now, I had a friend — a conventional gardener — who brought me 3 tomato plants last year that were much larger than mine. They even had tomatoes on them. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure he uses Miracle Grow®.
I pinched all the buds off and all the little tomatoes and then planted them in my garden. They went through withdrawal and then did great and gave us our first tomatoes of the season.
The Best Advice
The best advice on vegetable plants is to grow your own whenever possible. Even if you have no experience — you and your plants will probably do just fine. Remember my example and my reader’s example. If we can do it, you can do it!
The second best advice on vegetable plants is to buy from an organic grower.
If you’re not quite there yet and you have no other place to buy — than a conventional nursery — then you have no other choice until you can do better. Even with seedlings started with Miracle Grow, your vegetables will be a much better quality than those you buy in the big stores.
Plants that are short. About 4 to 6 inches.
Have NO flowers or buds. (If all they offer are plants with flowers and buds, take the buds and flowers off.)
Plant them in soil that is rich with organic matter and water in, then mulch.
How to Plant the Tomatoes
Plant tomatoes up to the first set of leaves. Roots will develop along the stem and you’ll get a plant that is able to yield more tomatoes.
If you walk towards organic and do THE VERY BEST you are able to do, that’s all any of us can do.
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and its a lot healthier!
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