In the Garden ~ Growing Squash and Zucchini

By Torrie Sessions

I always thought gardening was as simple as throwing seeds in the ground in the spring and letting nature take care of the rest. Not quite the case. The feeble plants from our first few years of gardening didn’t measure up against my memories as a kid.

If I add up all the expenses from building our raised beds, our sad little zucchinis were worth about $250 each. Our raised beds looked fantastic, and we bought quality seeds, but we were missing one of the most important components to any living thing… food. As they grow, plants take nutrients from the soil, but in order for them to thrive, the nutrients need to be continuously replaced through fertilizing (aka - plant food).

Fertilizers return nutrients to the soil to make them readily available for your plants. The three primary nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (or potash). The amounts of these nutrients are usually listed on the front of a package of fertilizer as a number like 4-6-2 (4% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 2% potassium). Nitrogen will help your plants grow vigorously and develop healthy leaves. Phosphorus will encourage blooming and help develop strong roots. Potassium improves your fruit quality and helps fight off disease.

When planting seeds or transplanting seedlings, you should prep the soil using an organic fertilizer. We use E.B. Stone Sure Start in the beginning because it is gentle and won’t burn your plants. When it comes to these nutrients, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much nitrogen will burn plants, especially when they are young. Once the plants are established, we use E.B. Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food about every 4-6 weeks. Sprinkle about a tablespoon around each plant, mix into the soil, and water.

Lately, we’ve been using Grow More Tomato Food instead of the E.B. Stone, and let me tell you, “zucchini envy” is not an issue this year. This fertilizer has a high concentration of all three of these nutrients (18-18-21 compared to the 4-5-2 of E.B. Stone), and immediately absorbs into your hungry plants. For us, it’s working like rocket fuel.

Whichever food you serve up, remember – feed your soil from the start, go easy in the beginning (especially on nitrogen), and as they become plants, keep those babies well fed {because we all think of our plants as our children… right??}.

Photo credit: Torrie Sessions 

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  • Melissa

    great tips! thank you for the reminder to feed my garden gems.

    • pinkmoondaily

      As soon as I read Torrie’s post I thought about my poor tomatoes that had not been fed in two months. Fixed that!

  • Jody Brettkelly

    Wow, those leaves look ginormous, good growing girl!
    One bizarre thing to remember when opening fertiliser bags is to keep away from the opening in the bag. One of our friends inhaled that first blast and had to be taken to hospital because it got right to his lungs – it was very serious. (I know…very weird…after that he wore a mask when putting out fertiliser)

    • Torrie @ a place to share…

       wow… good to know!