Monday, 18 May 2015

How To Feed Your Organic Vegetable Garden

Organic feeding of your garden and crops...

 Top dress your beds annually with an inch or two of organic material

Of course, the whole premise of organic gardening is that you 'feed your soil to feed your plants'. Therefore, adding an inch or two of organic material to your veggie beds annually is the best and most efficient way to have healthy, happy crops all summer long.

Organic material to add annually may be... compost, manure, grass clippings, leaves, leaf mould, bonemeal, bloodmeal, alfalfa hay or pellets, chopped vines of peas and beans, etc...

But ... what to do mid-season if you feel that your tomatoes are looking peaked? Onions are not bulbing up, or cucumber vines are looking a bit more yellow than green?

Here are some ideas for that additional organic boost throughout the growing season.
Reindeer is an island product and is the best seaweed I have ever used!
(No, I do not get any freebies or kick backs from anyone I recommend!)
1. Liquid Seaweed as a foliar feed. 
Add a capful or two of liquid seaweed per litre of water. Place in a spray bottle or tank sprayer. Spray onto the foliage of your plants once a week.

This is especially effective on seedlings, but can be used at all growth stages throughout the season, and is fabulous for all crops and flowers. The nutrients are absorbed by the foliage and start to make an almost immediate difference.

2. Manure or compost tea. 
Add a couple shovel fulls of manure or compost to your large can, and fill with water. I use a garbage can placed on the north side of the greenhouse.

For added nitrogen, you can add a few handfuls of alfalfa pellets, while adding a couple of tablespoons of molasses really gets all the beneficial bacteria brewing.
Give it a stir once a day to help get things moving and shaking. The bacteria in the brew is fabulous for your garden. Let it cook for 3 to 7 days, till it is foamy on top and smells kind of earthy.

Can be used as a foliar feed or  a soil drench.

Dilute to about half strength before applying. I generally apply this around my cukes, squash, tomatoes and peppers, anywhere from once a week to once a month. Whenever I feel the plants can use an extra boost of nutrients.

The 'dregs' at the bottom of the can be thrown onto the compost heap for added healthy browns that get things cooking in the compost bin, too.

After about a week of brewing, the alfalfa tea is ready to use

3. Alfalfa Tea
To a 5 gallon pail or tub, add 5 handfuls of alfalfa pellets and 2 handfuls of Epsom salts. Let this brew for 3 to 7 days, till the top is green and thick and foamy.

Give it a stir so that the bits start to fall to the bottom. You can also put it through some cheesecloth to get the brew without the bits.

Dilute the brew and water plants... about 2/3 brew with 1/3 water.
If you have sifted out the bits, you can also use as a foliar spray.

I generally use this tea for my seedlings in the greenhouse as it is high in nitrogen, and then switch to manure tea when the plants go out to the garden.

When you have used the tea, add the dregs to your compost bin or garden beds.
Alfalfa is a great source of nitrogen and thus a good organic addition to your garden at any time, in any way. When tossed in the compost bin, the nitrogen helps to get things nicely cooking and breaking down faster. Either way you use it, your garden will benefit ; )

4. Organic Fertilisers

and then... When you get tired of making the teas, the mixing, the stirring, the brewing, as I inevitably do as the season wears on, a bit of organic fertiliser in your watering can once a week will get the job done. Easy peasy

There are several wonderful organic fertilisers on the market to choose from, to help keep your plants healthy and productive.

Top dressing in pots or side dressing in garden beds is a great way to add an additional boost

5. Top Dressing 

You can also simply apply a dressing beside the vegetable that needs an extra boost. Manure or compost is a great side dressing to just about any crop at all.

Alfalfa meal or pellets are a terrific organic boost of nitrogen to add around tomatoes, peppers, garlic or greens. do not use if you have a bunny problem!

Bonemeal (ground not granular) adds phosphorous and so helps with root strength, fruiting/flowering and the overall health of plants ... is especially beneficial for root crops.

Epsom salt (2 tablespoons once a month) around the base of your tomatoes, peppers, and roses will give you fantastic green, healthy foliage and help prevent Blossom End Rot. 

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