Don’t let your veggies feel the burn!

“Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight,
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light.”
~ Oscar Wilde

In Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of the master craftsman, Daedalus, who constructed wings for his son from feathers and wax and warned him not to fly too close to the sun. Unfortunately, Icarus ignores his father’s instructions; he becomes overly confident and plunges into the sea and drowns after the sun burns his wings and melts all the wax. The myth sparked the saying, “Don’t fly too close to the sun,” and it may also have had something to do with the exercise expression, “Feel the burn.”

However, when it comes to our garden vegetable plants, we definitely don’t want them to “feel the burn” from fertilizer. This recently happened to my tomato and pepper plants when my daughter accidentally fertilized the leaves. Fertilizer burn can also happen if too much fertilizer is applied all at once, or the fertilizer is applied during a hot afternoon.

Fertilizer burn

The best way to treat fertilizer burn is prevention – read the label carefully and apply only the amount recommended for your plants. Fertilize in the morning when the temperature isĀ  cooler, and be sure to apply the fertilizer with water around the root zone, avoiding the plant’s leaves and stems.

Treat fertilizer burn by removing damaged leaves, spraying off residue from the foliage and giving the soil a deep watering. It’s also a good idea to skip the next scheduled fertilizing session for over-fertilized plants.

By the way, summer temperatures are rising so wear your hat and sunscreen to avoid feeling the burn yourself.

New growth on pepper plant!

Happy gardening!

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  • About the Author

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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