Ask The Gardener: Slow peppers, cucumbers, blueberries and more

Posted on: June 28, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
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(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)


Question 1: Slow peppers

Jason: I planted my garden over Memorial Day weekend, and my tomatoes appear to be doing OK. But my peppers are another story. Any thoughts on why the bell peppers are still so small?

Doug: How’s the soil? They look a little a little tired. I’d be tempted to pull off that little pepper, fertilize with Grow (available here) and see if they catch on. Hopefully some warm weather will get them growing.

Question 2: Cucumbers

Anne: I have Googled everywhere but cannot find the answer to this question! Something got to my cucumber vines, and most have been nipped off at the growing end. Many of them have leaves remaining, but the growing end has been eaten. Some are just stems. So heartbroken! Are the plants done, or will they sprout from another location such as tomatoes? I’m trying to decide if I quickly replace or let them be. Sadly they are a discontinued variety that I planted from seed, “Ruby Wallace Old Time White.”

Doug: Since they are such an interesting variety, I would leave them in place, fertilize and make sure they have the water they need. You will need to figure out what’s eating the vines though. Assuming this is a four-legged pest, I would be tempted to cover the vines with a floating row cover. It’s a spun-bound translucent fabric that you can find at any nursery. This will protect the plants until you discover what’s doing the damage. To hedge my bet, I’d find a few cucumber plants at the nursery and plant them too.


Question 3: Blueberry plants

Stacia: What should I use to mulch my blueberries? I use straw, peat moss or mushroom compost. What about fertilizer? Can I put in a little bit of ammonium sulfate?

Doug: The mulch is up to you; it’s about what you want it to look like. Straw, peat moss or even bark mulch would work. I’d stay away from the mushroom manure as sometimes it can have a alkaline pH, the opposite of what you want. My choice for fertilizer would be Hollytone. It’s a great one for plants that like acidic soil. The ammonium sulfate is also something the blueberry bush would like. Always follow the instructions when applying either.

Question 4: Geraniums

Joyce: I have a geranium question. Full sun? And outdoors or inside? Leaves are so pale like maybe too much water? Is drainage needed on the pots? I will take any advice because they aren’t looking as good as they did all winter.

Doug: The hard part was wintering them over. Drainage is a must. They like full sun but can grow in part shade. They might benefit from some organic liquid fertilizer like Grow (available here).


Question 5: Flower ID

Susan: Could you please tell me what this plant is?

Doug: At first I thought it was a very spectacular Siberian iris. But I think it’s a Japanese iris, one I’d never seen one before. It looks like it might be the Japanse iris ‘Royal Robes.’ (Get more details here.)

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