Growing Vegetables/Beet Problem

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Question
hello, I'm an active gardner for years and for the past 2 or 3 I can't seem to get my beets kickstarted. In upstate ny, i planted them about a month ago.Only 4/5 have sprouted and of those most are maybe an inch or two.Is there a fertilizer or method to save them this year.It has happened the last couple.Most everything else is progressing nicely.
By the way do you have a way to prevent blight(leaves) on tomatoes??

thanks

Answer
Will, the odds are your beets did sprout, but at this time of the year, especially if the weather has been wet, slugs literally can devour the new sprouts over night.  I have had this problem myself, and now sprinkle slug pellets along the perimeter of the planting area.  This worked very well this year. Gardens Alive sells a product called Escar-Go.  It is an organic product consisting of iron phosphate. The slugs eat the pellets and are gone within a couple of days.

If you're sure you do not have slugs or any other pests eating the sprouts, you may want to apply a fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium to the area before seeding. This will promote strong root growth. Also make sure you are using fresh seed from a reputable company. Many of the so-called home centers sell off-brand seed varieties with very low germination rates. I have purchased my seed from Park Seed for years, and have always had high germination rates.

In regard to your second question, once blight infects your plants, it is very difficult to eradicate. It must be killed off before you can plant tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant in that same area again. Chemicals will normally not do the trick. One way to eliminate the blight is with a method called solarization. By laying 3 mil black plastic over the entire area for a 3 month period, the heat will kill the disease. Unfortunately, this must be done in the warmer months meaning nothing can be grown there that season.

You will also need to rotate your crops on a 3 year cycle. This eliminates the disease from propagating. It also is beneficial for the plants since different plants tend to draw varying amounts of nutrients from the soil.

Once the solarization process is complete, my recommendation is to supplement the soil by adding organic matter. These amendments include peat moss, aged manure, and compost. These will improve the tilth of the soil, and will help prevent disease and drainage problems, which can lead to root rot and other problems. They will also provide nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil, which will lend to the overall health of the plants.

I hope this answered your question. Please write again if I can ever be of assistance.

Good luck, and have a great weekend.

Mike

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Mike Mascio

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I have been an avid gardener since 1985 and an AllExpert volunteer since 1998. I specialize in soil preparation, seed starting and plant propagation, flowers, vegetables, and general landscaping. I am a strong advocate of the square foot method of gardening and the use of organic controls for pests and diseases.

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