University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q&A
Q: The vegetable transplants I’m growing indoors are really tall and spindly. I don’t see how they can keep growing like this--they’ll fall over! I water them just enough to keep the soil moist, don’t fertilize, and use a heating mat underneath and a ceiling florescent light.
A: Repot them in larger containers, planting them deeply so that much of the stem is buried. Then, lower the light to just an inch or two above the plants. As the plants grow, raise the light. (Next time, do this when you plant the seeds.) Lights suspended on chains make this easy to do. Brushing the plants with your hands each day is supposed to stimulate sturdier stems.
Transplants often get too large when seeds are started too early. Refer to our website publication, “Growing Vegetable Transplants” for planting dates.
Q: Last year we had lots of beautiful zucchini plants but only one miserable looking squash to eat. Plants were deep green, had many blooms, no disease or pests, were spaced 3 to 4 inches apart, and got 8 hours of sun. We watered them at the base during drought.
A: Your zucchini were unproductive because zucchini are big plants that need room. They should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart, not inches. Otherwise, you did everything right. They’ll grow in average soil, but they’ll appreciate some compost or fertilizer, too.
See our Grow It Eat It website: www.growit.umd.edu. The Vegetable Profiles give specific fertilizer rates and timing.