Thanks to everyone who has sent in a question! I will do my best to answer them as quickly as I can. Several people sent in similar questions and I will answer the most frequently asked of those questions in this week’s post. So let’s hit the "get answers" button and get started.
In most cases when your onions stay green and refuse to bulb it is an indication that you have too much nitrogen in the soil. Lots of nitrogen in the soil keeps the tops growing strong but does not allow the plants energy to go into the enlargement of the bulbs.
Lenny H, Mike M, Mike B, Todd D, and Sharon S all wanted to know… “is garlic an onion or is it an herb?”
Garlic is a member of the lily family as are onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. All of these members of the onion family grow in pretty much the same conditions but are used somewhat differently. With onions, garlic, and shallots we use the bulbs, with chives and green onions (scallions) we use the leaves and with leeks we use the enlarged stem.
Okay, lets tackle these in order. Your lettuce leaves are turning yellow and the trouble is most likely watering, not enough watering in the lettuce garden will lead to yellow leaves. Now for the bitter tasting lettuce. First off keep in mind that many lettuces we grow in our gardens (unlike the ones you purchase in the grocery stores) is naturally more bitter and that is not bad, it means that the leaves are packed full of many healthy Phytonutrients. But if the lettuce is more bitter than it ought to be the cause may well be nitrogen. Remember in the onion question above how too much nitrogen in the soil kept the leaves growing big and green? Well in this case you have too little nitrogen in the soil, causing stunted leaf growth, light green rather than rich, dark green growth, and much more bitter flavor.
Large Swiss chard leaves that are not tender is common, most likely you just let them get too big prior to harvest. Cut your chard leaves off when they are about 8 inches long and they should still be nice and tender. As far as the slow growth is concerned it is probably due, again, to nitrogen. Too little nitrogen in the soil will lead to slow growth in the chard and spinach no matter how much water you provide for them.
Well that is it for this installment of Garden Tech Support Tuesday.
In case you missed it, our main subject today was nitrogen, and I hope answering these questions has demonstrated just how important nitrogen is to growing healthy, hardy, delicious and wonderful plants in your garden.
In our gardens nitrogen is the nutrient in most demand – but too much is as bad as too little! An excess of nitrogen or an imbalance of nitrogen compared with other nutrients can make plants more prone to pest and disease attack. Also there is a well-known direct relationship between the amount of chemical nitrogen fertilizer applied to plants and aphid attack: the higher the amount of nitrogen the more aphids on the plants.
So when it comes to nitrogen, as with so many things in life, just enough is great but too much can spell be trouble.