E-mail -- Watering and Fertilizer

Dr. Myers,
     I have just one more question please. I need to know about watering and feeding the plants. At first I read just to keep them damp. I need to know how much to water them when they sprout and then after they are transplanted if you could. Also when to feed them. Thank you so much for all your help.

Hello again,
I have written about watering on the blog, you can do a search on the blog to find more info about it.  Any topic abou growing plants indoors you think of you can do a search on the blog.  If I have not written about it, E-mail me and I will answer your question directly and then eventually put that up on the blog.  I am trying to create a place where all types of people (beginner and advanced) can come share and get information about growing indoors… so the more questions I get the better for everyone.

Plants need water but I don't know about keeping them damp all the time. No matter what size plants you are growing you should water the plants until water comes out the bottom of the pot. However, you don't want the plants to sit in standing water so after an hour if the water is still in the tray, you will need to dump out the water. I usually suggest you let the top of the soil dry out before watering again. You can also tip over or pick up the pots to see if they are heavy with water or are light and need watering. The biggest problem people have is over-watering not under. Most people don’t realize the soil you provide your plants needs air space as well as water. I recommend allowing the top of the soil dry out. Also with hydroponics I usually recommend a timer so that roots are kept wet but can also get oxygen from the air.

You should give young plants a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen like 10-5-5 (Nitrogen is ALWAYS the first number in any fertilizer). When you want the plants to flower or fruit you should use a fertilizer that is highest in phosphorus (which is the middle number) like 1-5-4. The actual numbers are not as important as the ratio. You want the first number highest when plants are growing and the second number when the plants are flowering/fruiting.  I always suggest you follow the directions of whatever fertilizer you use. More is not better, it is usually worse (See my fertilizer experiment at the bottom of a past post) You will need to get a small measuring devise and a gallon container (I use a small graduated cylinder or a tea spoon and re-use milk jugs) measure the fertilizer as directed and water plants making sure they dry out between watering. If you are using soil (and worm castings as you mentioned previously) you may be able to use a bit less fertilizer than directed.

Good growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers

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