I spent many hours this spring researching Kelp Meal, Fish Bone Meal, Lobster & Crab Meal and Alfalfa Meal. The reason? Because this summer, Coast of Maine will add these organic supplements to their product line!!!! You can’t believe how excited I am!! During my research, the topic of foliar feeding kept popping up. Foliar feeding is the practice of applying liquid fertilizers to the plants foliage. It’s a relatively new idea that is quickly catching on with, not only home gardeners, but farmer’s market gardeners, vineyard growers, golf course managers and commercial farmers. Foliar sprays are a highly efficient way to fertilize and are extremely fast acting. Now that I have learned about the practice and resulting benefits, I’m really excited to try this out for the first time! At this moment I am steeping kelp meal tea which will be ready to use in two more days. I’m calling it my witches brew and can’t wait to see it’s magical effects! I’m planning to apply it to certain crops every 3 weeks and will keep you posted.
Studies have shown that spraying the foliage vs. watering in can be up to 20 times more effective as a way to supply nutrients to your plants.
Here are some of the benefits that research has shown.
• Spraying nutrients on fruit-setting crops like tomatoes and cucumbers will not only increase yields but will also increase their storage life.
• Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale and chard will mature more quickly.
• Liquid kelp applications will help to: reduce aphid and red spider mite attacks, control botrytis on strawberries and control powdery mildew on squash, cucumber and watermelon vines.
Here’s the recipe that you can use for kelp tea:
Mix ¼ cup of kelp meal into 1gallon water, let it steep for a few days (stirring it daily to introduce oxygen). Strain the solids out using cloth or nylon so that it won’t clog your sprayer. The leftover kelp solids can then be used around plants or added to your compost pile. Apply it on cloudy days, preferably in the morning, when no rain is forecasted. Temperatures must be below 80°F and be sure to spray the ‹‹‹‹
The lowly, often despised, slimy slug. How can something that moves so slowly wreak so much havoc on my lettuce plants? Not to mention hosta, basil, Million Bells, petunias, zinnias…on and on. And it seems like the damage happens overnight. There are several options for organic slug control. One involves getting up shortly after dawn, when the dew still blankets the garden, and hand-picking the little buggers. Eewww! Not only are the slugs happily foraging at that time, but the mosquitoes are too. Not my idea of an idyllic morning spent in the garden…been there done that! Another option is to bury small containers around the slug’s all-you-can-eat-buffet crops (level with the soil line) and fill them with beer. The slugs find the beer to be irresistible (who doesn’t?) and will eventually drown (death by beer). Too tedious of a task for me and what a waste of a good IPA. The best option for me is to use an organic slug bait control that contains iron phosphate which is safe to use around people, pets, fish, birds, beneficial insects, and animals. Iron phosphate is an organic compound that is found naturally in the soil, and, if the bait is not consumed by slugs, the material breaks down into fertilizer for your plants! You can also safely use iron phosphate around food crops and berry gardens right up to the day of harvest.
While at an industry trade show this past winter, I stopped at a bulb vendor’s booth to scope out new varieties and to ask a few questions. One of my questions was “Is it really necessary to deadhead daffodils?” Each spring I’ve spent countless hours removing the spent blooms so that the production of seeds won’t take the energy away from the bulb. I was thrilled to learn that it is not necessary! Most daffodil varieties are hybrids which won’t produce any seeds. Even if they did, cutting the flower stem, which also photosynthesizes, will rob the plant of some of its energy production potential. Makes sense to me! I’ve seen large fields filled with naturalized daffodils that are never deadheaded, yet remain productive year after year. Time to make a change!
One of the best things about June is that we are harvesting some of the fruits of our labor. Luscious strawberries, buttery spinach, crisp lettuce and my personal favorite ….peas! The variety that I’m hooked on is Early Frosty which is a non-GMO heirloom shelling pea. The sturdy vines only reach 2 1/2 – 3 feet tall and produce non-stop! The sweetness of the peas is a-ma-zing and they freeze well. You really can’t say that you’ve had peas until you’ve tried them fresh from the garden. So please, give peas a chance 🙂