Have you noticed that some of the veggies and herbs in your garden aren’t yet thriving? I’ve noticed that my basil seems especially displeased with our current weather pattern. If my tomatoes weren’t still in their Wall o’ Waters, I’m sure they’d be looking a bit weak too. Yes, we are having below normal temperatures this season, especially at night. Lots of our plants like to have nighttime temperatures at least above 50 degrees, but we’ve been dipping down into the 40’s in the middle of town (and those of you further north and west may be getting a few degrees colder than that!). Fortunately, some plants – like broccoli, lettuce, etc. – LOVE this kind of weather, and if you’re growing them, you’re probably enjoying a bumper crop.
But the forecast is showing a warm-up, so here is what you can do to give a few of your more heat-loving veggies and herbs a boost.
If you don’t have them in any kind of protective structure or in something like the insulating Wall o’ Waters, they may be languishing a bit. We don’t advocate overfertilizing tomatoes (unless you want lots of lovely green leaves and no fruit), but when we have had a cold snap, research has shown that giving your plants a dose of balanced liquid fertilizer can help them get back to the business of growing again. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose. One dose should be good for those plants in the ground. If you are growing your plants in containers with sterile potting soil (with no added fertilizers), then you should be fertilizing them more frequently anyway – every week or two at half the strength recommended on the fertilizer container. If your plant put on a fruit or two a few weeks ago and hasn’t been doing much since, it’s advisable (but by no means easy) to pluck those fruit and let them plant concentrate on growing a bit bigger before setting new fruit.
Zucchini and Other Summer Squash
If you have these in the ground already, check to see how they are looking. Squash enjoy warmer soil temps, and our soil has been chilly. It may even be advisable to put a few new seeds in the ground as insurance in case your current plants fail. Tuck a seed or two in between plants like broccoli that will be done in the next few weeks.
Green beans also like warmer soil temperatures, and I’ve not even put mine in the ground yet but will this coming weekend. Once again, if you planted awhile ago and they’ve come up and then languished, consider putting a few new seeds in the ground. If the new plants thrive and look better than the originals, replace all the originals with new seed.
Basil loves warm and moist conditions. I have the most success with them in pots and confidently put mine out a few weeks ago. They are not happy, even getting a bit of rust around the edges of some leaves. If your plants look very light green and even a bit brown, try pinching them back to a set of better looking leaves and then give them a dose of a balanced fertilizer. If your plants are small enough that pinching back isn’t an option, consider picking up some new plants. Basil is available nearly everywhere herbs are being sold this year. (One note – if you’re hoping to make pesto, go with the sweet basil or genovese types.)
Contributed by Carey Harrington, Colorado Master Gardener