Archive for garden fertilizer

Organic Gardens

Natural Fertilizers for Organic Gardens

When planting an organic garden, keep in mind for them to be truly organic, you must use natural fertilizers. We all have several household food items that can fit into that category. These are a few of my favorites.

from your yard to your table

organic gardens

Coffee and Coffee Grounds

Can’t finish that last cup of coffee. Store it in an empty 2 liter soft drink bottle until it’s 1/3 full, finish the container off with water, then use the liquid to spray on your garden plants. Coffee contains, magnesium, potassium and nitrogen, which is good for your plants. Spray them every 8-10 days for best results.

Rose food can be made from coffee grounds. You will need to dry the coffee grounds before sprinkling the grounds around the base of your azaleas, roses, or blueberries or any other acid-loving plants. Just be careful not to overdo it with the grounds, 2 or 3 times a year is about right.

Fish Water

When cleaning your fish tank, save the water to go on your garden. The fish by-products are full of nitrogen and other nutrients that plants thrive on.

Eggshell Top dressing

Save all your egg shells for a week. Wash thoroughly then let them dry for a day or two. Use your food processor or blender to grind them to a fine powder. Sprinkle the powder around the base of the plants or add a teaspoon to the hole before you plant your plants. Eggs shells are made up almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in agricultural lime.

Milk

Mix milk with water in a 1 to 4 ratio, will give your plants nitrogen building protein. You can feed this mixture to your plants once every week or so. Great way to use that old milk that may become out of date in a day or two.

As you can see when looking for a natural fertilizer for your organic gardens, you may not have to look any farther than your kitchen.

Building A Raised Vegetable Garden Bed

There are many benefits to using a raised vegetable 
garden bed in your gardens. 

For starters, elevated garden beds are easier on your 
back and knees because they require less bending, 
kneeling and crawling than regular beds.  In addition, 
raised garden beds offer better drainage, which means 
your plants are not stuck sitting in excess water every 
time it rains. Plus, it is much easier to build your soil up
than it is to work amendments into the ground.   

Fortunately, building raised vegetable garden beds is a 
super easy do-it-yourself project. All you need are some 
readily available tools and materials, and maybe an extra 
pair of hands. 
building a raised vegetable garden bed
Raised Vegetable Garden Bed Instructions

Tools and Materials  
(makes two 8’ x 4’ x 6” high beds)
(6) 1” x 6” x 8’ cedar boards* – 2 boards cut into 4’ 
sections
Wood screws and/or 8 metal corner brackets 
Power drill

Important Note: Cedar is naturally insect and moisture 
resistant, so it tends to hold up well in outdoor 
environments. Avoid using pressure treated lumber for 
your food growing areas because the chemicals used 
to create them can leach into your soil. 

*Cedar boards come in a variety of lengths and widths. 
Obviously, using 6” wide boards will give you more 
shallow beds than 10” boards. Choose whichever length 
and width combination you prefer. 
I'm a rebel, for my beds, I prefer them 16 inches or 
higher, and about 3 ½ feet wide.  I find the extra depth 
makes it easier to grow deep root vegetables, such as 
Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Okra, and Tomatoes.

To assemble your raised vegetable garden beds, line the 
ends of an 8’ foot section and a 4’ sections up so they 
form an “L” shape. While your helper holds the boards in 
place, secure the two boards together with wood screws 
or with the metal corner brackets.  

Repeat this process with the remaining cedar boards until 
you create 2 wooden rectangles, each measuring 8’ in 
length by 4’ in width. 

Once your beds are assembled, carry them a sunny spot 
in your garden and place them where you want your 
raised beds before you begin filling them. 

Filling Your Vegetable Garden Beds

Of course, you can fill each bed with packaged 
gardening mix, but you may find it gets a bit pricey. 
You can also create your own more cost-effective 
planting medium very easily.

Start by adding a thick layer of newspaper or flattened 
cardboard across the bottom of your raised garden box. 
This will help prevent weeds and grass from growing up 
into your planter. Then, add alternating layers of peat 
moss, compost, aged manure or barn litter, and topsoil.  
For the last two years, I have used nothing but aged 
horse manure.  If you have a horse or horses, start 
saving their by products now.  Age it for 6-12 months 
before using on your garden.

You can add additional amendments, such as bone meal 
or a slow-release organic fertilizer, once you decide 
which plants you want to grow. 

If you prepare and fill your raised beds in the fall, simply 
cover them with dark plastic to “cook down” all winter.  
You will be rewarded with beautiful rich soil in the spring, 
but it will be quite a bit lower than you remember, so be 
extra generous when filling the beds.  An extra foot of 
material in the fall, means a full bed in the spring.

If you assemble your raised vegetable garden bed in the 
spring, you can plant right into the layered mixture. Over 
time, the layers will break down to form a rich soil. In the 
near term, your plants will do just fine in it as long as you 
don’t use fresh compost, manure or barn litter, all of 
which can “burn” your plants.  Any animal waste material 
should be at least 6 months old before using them in 
your gardens.

As you can see, learning how to build a raised vegetable 
garden bed isn’t difficult. If you follow these easy 
instructions, you can look forward to years of more 
rewarding and efficient gardening. 

Grow Your Own Organic Food

The Best Way to Go Organic: Grow Your Own Organic Food

The cheapest and surest way to get good organic food is to grow your own, yourself. Growing your own organic food can be as simple as a few plants or as involved as you want it to get, by having a large outdoor garden.

If you are a first-time gardener, try not to overwhelm yourself. Think about container gardening or keep your garden relatively small, say a 4 ft x 12 ft raised bed. But think ahead and leave room for expansion when you are ready.

Containers work well for lots of vegetables but root vegetables may not be possible in some containers. Keep an open mind when looking for containers for your garden. Five gallon buckets, large bags [including the bags you buy your soil in] work great. Smaller food items like strawberries, cucumbers, carrots and herbs work well in smaller containers, such as a mop bucket, old pots that have seen their best days in the kitchen or clay flower pots. Cardboard boxes are another great help for growing in small places. Potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and peppers can all be grown in boxes.   cardboard boxes are great for growing organic food

When growing in the ground, there are two things to consider.

[1] Sunlight. You will want a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun, each day.

[2] Soil quality. You will need a pH balance of about 5.8 – 6.8. Inexpensive testing kit can be bought at a garden store or sometimes at a big box store.

You can correct acidity, by adding limestone. To decrease pH, or to correct alkalinity, use elemental limestone. Also, by adding leaves and plenty of other organic material you can enhance your soil to make it better and better each year.

If you can’t get your soil quite right, consider using raised beds around your yard. Then use bagged soil mixes that include animal manure for fertilizer to keep your vegetables organic. You can buy these products at most garden shops. If you are a first time vegetable gardener, consider planting some plant starts, instead of planting seeds. They may be a little more difficult to find organically, but for first time growers, they’re much easier to use. I have found smaller greenhouses can suit my needs for these plant starts.

Make sure to water your plants regularly. Seeds should be watered daily. New plants should be watered every 2-3 days. On particularly hot days, you may need to do more. You can even collect rain water for your plants by using rain barrels or creating your own from garbage pails.

One last tip, take the time to pull weeds. Make sure you grab the weeds fully by their roots or they will continue to grow. Weeding regularly will keep them from maturing and becoming problematic, especially, when you are just beginning to learn how to grow your own organic food.

For more information on growing your own organic food, read,  http://growingwhatyoueat.com/category/small-garden-spaces/

Cheap Vegetable Gardening Tips

Cheap Vegetable Gardening Tips, That Are Good For Your Garden

[1] Newspapers, Cardboard and Paper Towels

All kinds of paper goods can be used in your garden. Cardboard is excellent to put in walkways to keep weeds from growing or as the first layer for your raised beds, as a foundation for your soil, leaves or compost.

Cheap Gardening Tips

Adding paper products to your compost bin is good for the worms and the garden.

Newspapers can be used to protect your seedling, giving them head start on growing strong.

If you are doing a compost bin, with worms, you can add newspapers and paper towels to the mixture.

[2] Earth Worms:

There is no need to buy earth worms for your garden, just lift a few rocks after a rain storm and you should find plenty. Adding them to your soil or compost mixture is one of the best things you can do for your garden. They will eat through your kitchen waste, including newspapers and paper towels, giving you a rich garden additive, that will grow bigger and better vegetables, flowers or grass,

[3] Saw Dust:

Do you know someone who likes to build things? Chances are they will have sawdust to give away. Make arrangements for them to keep it in a 5 gallon bucket [that you provide] and call you when it’s ready to be picked up. Mix it will your soil in the fall and by spring it will have become part of your soil. This is especially good if your soil is high in clay. The sawdust will loosen the clay and make it easier for the plant’s root system to grow.

[4] Kitchen Tools:

If you are gardening in a raised bed, before you go out and buy special hand tools for it, look around your kitchen and see what you can use. I prepared, planted and harvested my raised bed this year, using only the tools I found in my kitchen. I found a sturdy long handled slotted spoon, 2 wooden spoons, an egg holder [used to getting boiled eggs out of hot water] that I put to great use in my garden. No expense or cost for any of them, they were just laying unused in my gadget drawer.

[5] Kitchen Waste:

Keep a covered container near your sink to put your kitchen waste in. Once a week, I try to take my worms a treat of kitchen waste. Some times I have to do a little chopping on the items but most times, all I do is add them to my worm bed, cover with a layer of dirt and walk away. I know that when I get ready to use that soil mixture in the spring, I will be richly rewarded.

There are many cheap vegetable gardening tips, all waiting to serve you and your garden, these are only 5 ways to save money while enjoying the rewards of having your own fresh produce.

Choosing Fertilizer For Your Garden: Animal Or Manmade

Choosing fertilizer for your garden is a big deal. Are you going to go natures way or man made, is the hundred dollar question. Both, animal or man made, have pros and cons. Mostly it comes down to what you have available to you. If you live or know someone who lives on a farm, it would make sense to go for the all natural animal manure. But if you do not have that advantage, then do your homework and get recommendations from other gardeners in your area about what brand of man made fertilizer they use. Different types of fertilizer work differently in different parts of the world. Asking your neighbors will give you a head start on making the right decision.

The next question for the natural is, which do you use: Horse or Cow

cow and horse

Both are good, as long as you use it after it has aged for six months or more. Manure is recommended for use in the food garden only after it has been well aged and composted.

You should never use fresh or semi-fresh manure around food crops. Studies show that pathogens can remain active for up to 120 days and have the potential to contaminate your crops.

Another reason a minimum of 120 days composting is recommended is because it can burn your plants. “Burning your plants”, means the nitrogen level are still so high that when any roots or leaves come in contact with it, they die.

If you are using animal manure as a fertilizer in a raised bed or a container it might be best to mix it with some store bought dirt or at least, some tree leaves that can be composted into the manure. This will ward off any burning surprises when using it in such a small place.

There will be mistakes made but the main thing is to keep going until you find what works best for you and your garden.