Tuesday, December 21, 2010

green finger tips - nitrogen deficiency

If the leaves of your plant turn yellowish you know you have a Nitrogen deficiency. In the photo above, you can clearly see the bottom leaves of the fennel turning yellow. The plants grow slowly and the bottom leaves will turn yellow first. This is a sure sign that you have to amend the soil. The natural way to fix Nitrogen deficiencies is to add compost, mulch, liquid fertilizer and green manure.

Nitrogen is vital to good plant growth. If your plants show signs of a shortage of Nitrogen, you need to add manures, including cattle, sheep, pig, goat, chicken and rabbit manures. Adding good compost helps a lot, if you cannot get manure. All manure should be well matured as fresh manure will burn your plants.

Using liquid manure can help to cure a Nitrogen deficiency, especially if you use plants like bean, comfrey, clover and nettle to make your liquid fertilizer Nitrogen fixing plants include groundnuts, cowpeas, beans, mustard, alfalfa, peas, soya beans and clover. These nitrogen fixing plants are known as legumes. Legumes are generally pod forming plants. Leguminous plants help to fix Nitrogen in the soil. You can plant legumes in the soil and grow green manure crops

In the long term, you can fix nitrogen deficiency by adding lots of organic materials to the soil. When the soil is healthy and balanced you will find you have excellent growth, with no signs of yellowing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

green finger tips - green manure

Alfalfa/ Lucerne in this photo.

What is green manure

Green manures are crops that are grown to help the soil to fix nutrients. Food for the soil is vital to good plant growth. When nutrients are missing from the soil, plants will become infected with pests, viruses and bacteria.

Green manure gives the soil health

Keeping the soil healthy is incredibly important for successful companion planting in an organic garden. Green manure crops provide the nutrients the soil needs. You can scatter seeds of plants like clover and alfalfa to fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is vital to keep plants leaves from yellowing.

How to use green manure

When the plants are starting to go to seed, you can pull out or cut back the green manure plants. Mulch the green manure crops right where you have grown it. It will then feed the soil with the vital ingredients for successful growth.

What plants can I use for green manure

Plants like Alfalfa (Lucerne) pictured above, is a great Nitrogen Fixing plant. It has the added bonus that is regrows after it has been cut back and this can be done several times.

Comfrey and Lupins help to add Phosphorous to the soil. Certain herbs, like Lovage and Golden Rod can be used as green manure crops to improve the soil. Hyssop helps to fight bacterial infections.

Green manure effectively improves soil

Growing green manure crops is a sensible and cost effective way of improving the soil and creating mulch. here is a list of useful plants for fixing soil

Thursday, December 16, 2010

green finger tips - liquid fertilizer

One of the easiest ways to fix the soil is to feed it with liquid fertilizer tea.
Making liquid fertilizer is easy.

You need to suspend a bag of organic materials in water and allow them to steep for 1 - 2 weeks before you can use it. You can use any organic material including soil improving plants, manures and “weeds”.

Preparing to make liquid fertilizer tea.

1. Stand the container in a cool shady spot.
2. Make sure you have a lid that fits the drum of your liquid fertilizer tea
container. The smell can be outrageous.
3. Fill the container with water.
4. Get a good strong stick to lie across the diameter of the drum,
5. Have a Hessian (natural fiber) bag and a piece of string.
6. Fill the bag with a mixture of manure, compost and/or plants.
7. Allow to stand and ferment for a week or two.
8. Use by diluting with fresh water.

Liquid fertilizer is diluted in a ratio of 1:10. One part of liquid fertilizer and 10 parts of water is the ideal mixture. If you use the liquid fertilizer undiluted, it will burn the plants.

Use liquid fertilizer when transplanting or when plants are looking a little off color. Feed plants with liquid fertilizer about once a week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

green finger tips - stop soil erosion

Soil which is exposed to the elements becomes infertile, dry and blows away in the wind, never to be replaced again. Soil erosion is one of the most common ways that top soil is lost. Top soil that erodes is lost forever.
Preserving the top soil is important. Growing organically means that you want to protect your topsoil and prevent soil erosion.
There are simple steps to follow to protect the soil:
1. Keep the soil covered – cover the soil with organic or inorganic matter. Stones, old leaves and grass clipping are great for keeping the soil covered. Even your daily newspaper can be recycled to feed the soil.
2. Feed the soil – give it piles of compost and mulch. The soil has to be fed constantly to maintain its fertility. Regular additions of compost and mulch maintain the soil in good condition.
3. Grow green cover – always keep the soil covered with plants. Green mulch effectively protects the soil, keeping it covered.
4. Plant windbreaks – stop the wind from removing your precious stop soil by planting barrier plants to divert the wind.
5. Sink water into the soil – catch as much rainwater as possible from the roof and direct it into channels and pits in the ground. Sinking the water into the ground, improves the water table allowing the plants roots to benefit.
It is easy to protect your patch of soil. You start to realise that the earth is a living organism and needs to be fed, cared for and it will yield so much to benefit your health.