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per, just a page or two, around the plants and cover the paper with an organic mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weeds. This type of mulching will also hinder early blight on tomatoes, keeping the soil-borne diseases from being splashed on the plant during rain. Remove mulch and dispose of it at the end of the season. The decay process of the peat pot in the soil is dependent upon bacterial and fungi feeding. Occasionally, when I clean up the vegetable plantings in the fall, I pull up the old tomato or pepper plant to find very limited root penetration through the side of the peat pot and into the surrounding soil. This occurs more often in clay loam than in sandy loam soils. If the transplant has a very vigorous and healthy root ball, there are times when I have carefully removed the peat pot and planted the transplant in the soil without it. I then bury the peat pot or toss it into the compost pile. If you can, set out your tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants on a cloudy, calm day or in the early evening. Unfortunately, gardeners may need to transplant when they have the time, regardless of the weather. Strong sun and wind are hard on new transplants. Provide shade and wind protection with berry baskets, small crates or screens. Mulching helps, since it lowers the rate at which water

Tidewater Gardening

careful not to allow the rim of the pot to protrude above the soil level. If the rim is above the soil, it will act as a wick and draw moisture away from the transplant. To prevent this from happening, break away the uppermost rim of the pot before planting, and make sure the pot is completely covered with soil. Place a layer of newspa-

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May 2018 ttimes web magazine  

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