Thursday, February 24, 2011

green finger tips - phosphorus deficiency


Phosphorus (P) deficiency

A Phosphorous deficiency in plants is noticeable when the leaves of the plants become a red or pinkish color around the edges. Plants which lack Phosphorus grow very slowly even when lots of compost is applied. When you see the pinkish tinge appear on your plants you can remedy it by adding a variety of Phosphorous–rich materials to the soil.

Phosphorous is found in urine, bones, hair, feathers and blood. You may not be able to get hold of bones, hair, feathers and blood, but remember to take regular bush pees, especially in areas of your garden where you see symptoms of Phosphorous deficiency. You can use bone meal of natural rock phosphate as an alternative source of Phosphorous. These can be obtained from an agricultural supply store. Add these Phosphorous rich materials to your compost or sprinkle the powders over the garden.

Comfrey, lupins and valerian are phosphorous rich plants. You should always add a few layers of comfrey and valerian leaves to your compost pile. You can grow lupins as a green manure plant. Use comfrey leaves to mulch areas that need a Phosphorous boost. Always add comfrey to your compost heap.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

green finger tips - humus


Humus is not that chickpea paste that some people are crazy about – that’s said chumus. Humus is in fact the best compost the soil could wish for. It is the gift earthworms give to the soil. Humus “refers to any organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further and might, if conditions do not change, remain as it is for centuries, if not millennia.” Wikipedia
Sometimes, in the early morning, you can observe little piles of brownish black balls all heaped up. They look like miniature mole hills.
These are piles of humus or worm castings. Each little mound is about 5cm tall. The earthworms, who take fresh organic matter into the soil to eat, must also excrete. These excretions are incredibly packed with nutrients that are ready for uptake by the plants.
The more you feed your soil, the more you will discover that earthworms come to your garden and multiply. The more the earthworms multiply, the more humus they will freely give to the garden. The humus keeps the soil in optimal growing condition.
When you build an organic vegetable garden, you want to encourage soil health and stability. When the soil is healthy, the plants will be healthy.