Posts tagged ‘fertilizer’
How satisfying it was (and just a bit sweaty) to dig up 96 great heads of garlic yesterday! I had to fight through the weeds to get to them, but it was worth it! I attended the Easton Garlic Festival last Fall and purchased a bulk load of garlic – mainly Turkish Red, but also a variety pack that included German Red, Music, Elephant, French to name but a few. My son and I planted the bulbs late last October, we mulched them with pine needles and waited… I cut the scapes off in May (although some escaped – resulting in smaller heads) and treated them to some fish fertilizer in Spring and that was pretty much it – they are a very low maintenance crop! The yield was pretty impressive – about 90% of the bulbs produced full heads. (A few of them had gone too far and were splitting at the top – but I will use or trade these ones early).. I made a screen from hardware cloth and an old window frame for them to lie on to cure (out of the sun, dry place) for a week or two.
This week has been hot but productive, I can last until about 11:30am in the hot sun and then I have to retreat inside – how do those real farmers do it? I sprayed my fruit trees with the homemade beneficial spray again – this time it included Neem and Bt for insect control as well as the usual molasses, vinegar, soap and seaweed extract. I got really annoyed though, I had purchased a new gallon sprayer and after 10 mins of spraying, the handle (on/off switch) failed and it was such a pain to keep fixing during the spraying (luckily only my dog was the only witness to the expletives being muttered!). Whilst I was dealing with the trees, I decided to prune them – the peach tree was getting a bit tall, cherry that I am training in a fan against the fence had a center branch that needed to come out, and the apple had two central leaders that I had to choose between. It was tough, but it had to be done!
I started on the new raised bed for the carrots this week and also decided to where I am going to locate the new raised bed for my fall/winter produce – I thought it was going in or near the fenced garden but realized it needed to be nearer to the house (to make it more usable in the winter), so it will go by the back deck where the cold frame is currently. I think I am going to use concrete blocks to frame that out too – the ground is not level there and so I was worried about using wood or plastic lumber.
I sowed some more green beans and a few peas – just to see if they would work this year (I planted them too late last year and the flowers didn’t survive the cold weather). The various squashes are doing very well so far – the butternut is flowering and we ate the first yellow summer squash last night – no signs of squash bugs or cucumber beetle this year.
Hi all, I’m getting back to writing my blog. My parents have gone back to the UK after a great month-long visit. My Dad was a star! @72yrs old he opened up ~ 200 ft2 of virgin clay ground covered in vegetation (mostly goldenrod – so not an easy task!). It got drier and harder as the days went on, but he persevered and I even managed to plant my sweet potatoes (arrived in the mail last week) in two of the beds before they left! I didn’t have enough compost to mix in to make the soil really nice, but hopefully the sweet potatoes won’t mind too much (I sprinkled over some organic fertilizer before planting them).
This morning, my sons & I transplanted some raspberry shoots in front of the beds to make a living fence to hopefully deter the deer from entering the new garden area – we’ll have to see how that works! For now, I also cover the sweet potatoes with row cover for some insurance – they actually don’t look very tasty at the moment since they are pretty dead looking when they arrive. (I planted them like that last year though and they grew pretty well).
It was actually a bit of a bonus gardening day today since it was supposed to rain all day but it actually only drizzled and then got quite nice by the afternoon. I transplanted my first tomato plants – 3x Early Girls – they look pretty healthy, I’m pleased with the quality of seedlings. I have been putting the whole lot of the seedlings from the basement out every day for about three weeks and a couple of days ago, I put them in the cold frame in the main garden and left it open at night – it is in the 50F’s now, so cold is not a problem. I plan to transplant most of the other seedlings within the next couple of weeks into their respective spots.
Excitement on the fruit-growing front – we have baby peaches, apples, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries growing! I sprayed the apple and peach with the holistic spray mixed with kaolin clay to hopefully prevent pests getting into the fruit. So far so good on the cedar apple rust – no sign of it on the apple trees. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and give it another spray when it stops raining next weekend!
Hurray, the peas are coming up! Despite all this cold and rainy weather (and my impatience)! The carrots also germinated under the board I had over them to stop the seeds getting washed away – but now I am worried about the effect the rain is having on them – they were a little spindly since they took me by surprise and germinated quicker than expected. Time will tell if they make it – if they can get through today, they should be OK since we have a little break from the wet coming up tomorrow.
The seedlings in the basement are doing well – even my basil has germinated, usually I have difficulty with basil for some reason, but all the new seeds are coming up, the seed from last year is being a bit more temperamental – maybe basil seed doesn’t keep well – I’ll have to look that up. I’m a bit afraid the lights aren’t bright enough, since there doesn’t seem to be a lot of growth from the plants once they get their first leaves. Mike McGrath says you should change out the lamps every year, but I was trying to save the planet (and the dollars) by not doing that. I heard on his show this week that the LED grow lights are pretty effective – I will look into those – good from an energy efficiency standpoint, probably not too easy on the pocket though.
I’m pleased with the transplanted lettuce and kale – all doing well in the garden, and the mache and other radish that I sowed last week is coming up too. The garlic plants are going crazy – I sprayed them with some fish fertilizer a couple of weeks ago, I may do that again soon since I can’t quite be bothered put compost around each one of the plants. Can’t wait to harvest the first asparagus – it is starting to shoot upwards now – I have to check my reference books to see what is the best way to harvest (first time for me) and how long to keep cutting, etc.
At last! A nice day to be out getting dirt behind my nails! (My husband loves that -not!). Torri & I spent the morning picking trash from the side of roads in our township – it’s amazing how thoughtless some people are. Anyhow, it was a feel good project and we both felt pretty self-righteous afterwards!
Then, after a short break for lunch, Torri & my husband Graham went down to clean out the hive of the dead bees – sad work. A couple of the frames were starting to rot, so we’ll need to replace those, but the rest were salvageable and we put them in the new chest freezer to keep the wax moths at bay and kill anything else that might be lurking in those oh so perfect hexagonal cells.
I set to work on fertilizing the fruit trees and some of the beds I will be transplanting and sowing seeds into soon. I used the calculations I learned during the soils course to work out how much 3-4-4 organic fertilizer to put down per square foot – very satisfying! I made a spreadsheet so I will be able to repeat the process next year or whenever I have to do it again.
I sowed some mache, radish, kale, spring onion and carrot seeds. I’m a bit worried about the carrots – I think it might be a bit early for them, they are supposed to be able to germinate at 40F soil temperature, but the seedlings may not be hardy enough for hard frosts – I think I will cover them once they start to come up. I am experimenting with a short 4″ carrot since my soil is pretty clayey and has some small rocks in it.
Well, I’m so happy! I attended the last Soil Management class last night and all my wishes came true! I can now determine which organic fertilizers and how much of them to use on my garden (after a soil test). The key to the mystery is three data tables that we were shown how to use last night. I hope to get them electronically and I will edit them to be more small garden friendly – at the moment all the data are per acre – at the scale I garden I need per foot – not too difficult to change on a spreadsheet! Maybe I could post them on the blog – have to find out if that is possible.
I must say even I find it a little strange that this makes me so happy, but I think I was so frustrated back in 2009 when I got a recommendation for my fruit trees for using 10-10-10 fertilizer and I couldn’t work out what I should use as an organic alternative. I ended up using chemical fertilizer which annoys me every time I think about it.
I sent off a soil sample for a soil nutrient test today – takes me back to my contaminated land survey days – arrrgh! I used to moan that I hadn’t done a Masters to end up putting soil into jars at the end of a long, normally damp and cold, day on-site. What fond memories!
I am taking a class on Soil Management at the local Extension office and by the end of it apparently we will be able to mix our own organic fertilizers based on the needs of our particular soil. I’m looking forward to that – I remember getting advice on fertilizer requirements in 2009 when I put my fruit trees in and wanted to use organic fertilizer but had no idea how to convert chemical fertilizer requirements 10-10-10 into organic amendments. Well, by this Thursday I should know how – watch this space!