The other day, John was out for a walk through his neighborhood and he happened to notice a backyard garden unlike any he had seen before. John was a gardener himself and he could not help but wonder what the secret of this mystery gardener was. While his own tomato and pepper plants were producing a host of fruit, the tomatoes were not ripening and the peppers seemed to be dwarfed. Finally, his curiosity got the best of him. He decided to knock on the front door of the house with the magnificent garden and ask a few questions.
A few moments passed before a pop-bellied man with a wild head of loosely curled hair swung the door open. John felt a momentary rush of anxiety but pressed through and offered a formal introduction. He explained that he noticed the man’s garden with its enormous summer-red, ripe tomatoes and pepper plants bursting with mature fruit. The man smiled at John and informed him that he was the second inquirer that week. John asked him what his secret was.
The man replied that there was no secret—at least, not one that was intentionally covered up. The truth was, that most soils are low in P.K. soil mix, also known as Phosphorus and Potassium. Fertilizers and composts are rich in Nitrogen content, extremely so, in many cases, but often lack adequate amounts of Potassium and Phosphorus. What that means for the gardener is that he or she will have tall, green, leafy plants with a panoply of buds and immature fruit, but nothing ripe for the harvest. Nitrogen is a great nutrient for encouraging plants to grow generous root systems so they can get big and thick, but without enough P.K mix, seeds and fruit suffer, sometimes to the end of producing nothing ripe at all.
For John and every gardener who has suffered a similar fate, the good news is a relief. Even in August, it is not too late to remedy the soil mixture and provoke a harvest of ripeness. A quick trip to a local gardening store can solve the problem.
A week after putting the mix on his garden, John felt obligated to go back to the man’s house and thank him. He was surprised by how quickly his garden had responded. Tomatoes that had grown bulging and green were ripe, as if overnight, and the peppers were already as big as many found in the supermarket. This simple solution saved John’s garden, and for anyone out there who has observed the same symptoms in their own garden, it is not too late to respond. One note of caution however, should be taken. As with nitrogen burn, too much of a good thing, like Phosphorus and Potassium, can kill an eager plant.
About the Author
Jody Sperling is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club.