Why won't my vegetable plants grow?

Baltimore Sun reporter

Question: We filled our new raised vegetable beds with good stuff: humus, peat moss and vermiculite, but our plants are puny! What's wrong?

Answer: Neither peat moss nor vermiculite has nutritional value. Your plants are starving. Vegetable crops need fertilizer in some form. Also, peat moss makes soil more acid, but vegetables don't like an acid soil. They need a pH close to neutral, about 6.5-6.8. Mix the soil amendments you added with the natural soil at the bottom of the raised bed. Then take a soil test to learn the pH and the nutrient levels. The soil test recommendations that are sent back to you will tell you how much to lime and fertilize.

Question: Can I transplant perennials during dry periods?

Answer: Yes, but be sure to take these steps to ease the transition: Water the plants well a day or two before transplanting. Hydrating them will ensure that they are not in a stressed condition. Dig the planting hole in advance and fill it with water. Let the water be absorbed by the surrounding soil. Repeat. Try to transplant when it is not sunny or breezy. Follow our online factsheet, "Planting Tips for Trees and Shrubs." For the next two years, water your transplants during drought.

ChecklistKeep raspberries and blackberries picked. Over-ripe berries invite disease.

Do not apply fertilizer or weed killer to grass dormant because of drought.

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