Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Let Me Simplify" or When Fertilizer Gets Too Complex

My lovely friends April and Kate are starting new gardens at their respective new homes. They asked about what fertilizers we use and I thought that might be information others might be interested in. So I interviewed my husband. When he saw the look on the face after question one he stated, "Ok Ok let me simplify this for you." Here's what I gathered for you, my dear readers. And all before my coffee was done.

We don't fertilizer all that often. Mostly, we fix our soil with loads of compost. We compost before, after and during planting. When we do use fertilizer, we use seaweed extract the most often. We also use fish emulsion. Warning: fish emulsion smells really horrible. These are both foliar feeds- which means you spray them on the leaves. We use them on seedlings once they get true leaves. Lots of people also swear by compost tea.

If you want something for the ground you can use organic granular (dry) fertilizer. Granular fertilizers are basically a mix of minerals and goodies for plants. I like to call them plant treats. Different plants like them at different times. You can mix this into a new bed. Here's what you need to know. You want slow release which means the parts are not water soluble, so they won't just wash away.
Hot tip: These dry fertilizers are listed/ named by three numbers. If the numbers are higher than 12, its most likely NOT organic. Do not proceed, do not pass go.

But really making your own compost pile is the way to go.

Anyone else have a fertilizer they really love? Share away.


We transformed our old chicken tractor into a greenhouse for the winter. When we made the new chicken house- we pulled the wire off this frame to reuse. Then we wrapped this one in some old large pieces of plastic that saved from the trash. If you look closely, you might be able to see old milk jugs inside. We filled those up with water to help keep the temperature stable inside. Liquid heats up and cools down much slower than air so it will gather heat from the sun during the day and then slowly releases the heat at night. It works even better if you paint them black. We haven't done that yet. But then again, our so called "winter" lasts a few days. Maybe a week tops.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Take em or Leave em

Here are two new (to me) ways to eat broccoli for the broccoli bi-curious.

Broccoli Leaves! Saute some onions and garlic and then throw the fresh leaves on top and lightly saute them. Delicious! Rumor has it that the leaves are more nutritious than the traditional flower head. I wouldn't try this with broccoli leaves from the store. They need to be fresh- either from your garden or the farmers market. The broccoli from the store usually has the leaves removed because it has been traveling around in a truck for a few days. But fresh broccoli leaves are amazing. I enjoy them more than collards or mustard greens.

Roasted Broccoli! Have you all secretly been eating roasted broccoli without telling me? Does everyone already know about this? We pop some broccoli, with oil and salt, in the toaster oven for 15 minutes and have a quick, roasty treat. It gives the broccoli a new taste. Since we have a great (Great, GREAT) deal of broccoli- even a broccoli lover such as myself- needs to shake it up a little.

Hot tip: A friend who is a beginning gardener said she reads this blog to see what veggies are harvested when in our area. Another great way to find out what grows when in your area is to check out the local farmers market and see what they have for sale at different times of the year.

"Oh we got both kinds. Country and Western." - Blues Brothers.