, Newburyport, MA

September 4, 2013

Tim's Tips: Plant problems? You may need to fertilize more

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — Where did the summer go? It doesn’t seem like that long ago we were talking about planting the flowers and the vegetable plants.

Many of you should be getting your lion’s share of tomatoes and peppers from those plants that you put in during late May. But judging from conversations that I have had with customers, some of you are still waiting for those first tomatoes or peppers.

Often, the problems stem from the plants not getting enough fertilizer. As your plants reach their mature size, they will use a lot more fertilizer. Many fertilizer containers tell you to fertilize your plants once a month. At this time of the year, your plants should be fertilized every two weeks. If you are growing your vegetable plants in containers, the frequent watering that you have done has washed much of that fertilizer out of the containers.

In some cases, containerized plants may need to be fertilized every seven to 10 days at this time of the year. Tomatoes will stay green if they do not get enough fertilizer. In particular, tomatoes need a lot of potassium to get those green tomatoes to turn red. At this time of the year, your vegetable plants need a regular application of fertilizer right up until those plants are killed by the frost.

If you have pulled up some of your vegetable plants, don’t let that space go to waste. There are many different kinds of vegetables that you can plant again in the fall. Beets, carrots, broccoli, peas, lettuce and spinach, to name a few, will all grow very well in the cooler days of fall. It is not unusual for you to be able to pick fresh vegetables for your Thanksgiving dinner!

Don’t let that space go to waste. Buy some seed packets, and plant up those empty spaces in your vegetable garden.

We have had some very dry weather for the past month. We have had some thundershowers, but much of that rain comes down so fast that it tends to run off and not sink into the soil. Most of your outdoor plants need to be watered. This also includes your trees and shrubs. If these plants go into winter suffering from lack of water, the plants will be much more likely to be damaged by the weather. When you get the chance, get some water onto your trees, shrubs, perennials, and, of course, those annual flowers and your vegetable garden.

If your containers of annual flowers are beginning to look a bit past their prime, you can now get your fall plants to put into those containers. We have been getting in mums and other plants that will fill up those window boxes with fall color.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.