It's that time of year when nutrient deficiencies begin to cause problems in the garden. While most of us have given our plants a good start with starter fertilizer, many plants need supplemental fertilizer during the growing season. One of the most common nutrient deficiencies in a typical Maine garden is nitrogen. Without adequate nitrogen your plants cannot build the nucleic acids and proteins they need for healthy growth and fruit production. A lack of nitrogen is often misdiagnosed as a lack of (or too much) water or attributed to the weather. if your plants are looking a little pale and don't seem to be growing as they should, check them closely for these signs of a nitrogen deficiency.
Replenishing the usable nitrogen in the soil often produces rapid results. You may notice increased growth and richer color with a few days. You can add nitrogen by adding compost, well-rotted manure, fish emulsion or commercial fertilizers.
Water-soluble fertilizers designed as foliar feeders can be mixed and sprayed onto the plants. Allow adequate amounts of fertilizer to penetrate the soil. Look for mixtures that are high in nitrogen, denoted by the first number in the formula. Always follow the directions included on the container to avoid over feeding and damaging your plants.
Note: A soil test meter is a great investment for monitoring the pH and nutrient levels in you soil. It only takes a minute to complete the test and takes the guess work out of troubleshooting problems with your plants.