Sunday, 5 June 2011

Enriching your soil, part I: Organic fertilizers for your vegetables and flowers! (Compost tea, egg shells, banana skins, nettles, seaweed, urine)

How to make simple homemade organic fertilizers!

This article is the first of a series that will teach us how to enrich our soil, from a Permaculture /Biodynamic perpspective.

To start with, below are some simple steps we should follow when growing vegetables and flowers:

  • First, when you plant, remember to incorporate compost and sand into the soil, to provide nutrients. Cover also with mulching, and add egg shells and coffee grounds around plants (you can also dilute the coffee ground in water and apply to acid-loving plants like tomatoes, azaleas, roses and blueberries)
  • Fertilize heavy feeders (tomatoes, zucchini) with a seaweed fertilizer (add seaweed to water, let sit for 2 weeks, and dilute before use). Fertilize occasionally green leaf vegetables with diluted urine (1:20, and use immediately). If you eat fish or meat, you can also prepare a fertilizer made from bones and from fish leftovers, because it is very rich for your plants.
  • Fertilize adding regular doses of compost tea (add compost to water, and let sit for 2 weeks, dilute before use). Spray on plants for a foliar feed and to eliminate pests. Fertilize occasionally with a tea made from composted nettles (do as the compost tea). Comfrey is also very good. You can also add banana and potato skins as these are full of nutrients, especially potassium. The best is to mix everything together: compost, nettles, comfrey, banana and potato skins, and other herbs that accumulate specific nutrients like docks or ferns. Remember that this will smell bad, so let it sit for the 2 weeks in some hidden place. And dilute this black compost tea before use.
  • Fertilize with a spray or tea made from herbs used in Biodynamic farming: dandelion, yarrow, nettle, horsetail, chamomile, valerian and oak bark. Some of these plants also accumulate nutrients, and according to Rudolf Steiner, they release "energies" into the soil which are very beneficial to your vegetables. Remember to use those weeds!

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