Love is in the Air!
Loving your garden in the early spring ...
It is so easy to fall in Love with your garden early spring ...
There are lots of seductions that effortlessly arrive! Mild temperatures, sunny days, singing birds, unfurling blossoms and leaves on the trees ... forgotten snowdrops, perhaps crocus too. Daffs and tulips next ... you feel 10 pounds lighter simply shedding those bulky clothes!
How long can you stay on this pink cloud of euphoria before you confront your garden and that heavy sinking feeling remembering your resolution for making the perfect garden? Or perhaps you sincerely have Spring fever but don’t want to burn out half way through your projects? Novice or Sophisticated Gardener: How do you stay “in Love with your Garden”?
For all your designs, pretty patio boxes or freshly tilled backyard; simple nutrition can be the balance for success. Here are a few homemade “recipes” for continued success after the initial thrill of buying seeds or starters. I want your garden to go beyond “survive” to “thrive”!
First for seed trays; try a Starter solution you can spray once there is green growth, yet not drench the soil or drown the seedling. Use a half cup of liquid fish emulsion with a half cup of liquid seaweed solution in a glass jar. Shake and Label! This is your concentrate. Use three Tablespoons to a gallon of water, filling a hand spray bottle with the diluted solution. This is great when transplanting your babies too!
For a great foliar liquid feed, try my “Black Magic” formula. Take one Tablespoon liquid Seaweed, four Tablespoons liquid Fish emulsion and one teaspoon blackstrap cooking Molasses. Molasses provides iron, sulphur and simple sugar to nourish growing plants… Mix into one gallon/four litres water. It is roughly 7-2-8 on the NPK rating. Buy a bit extra Epsom salts for minerals for your Tomato plants later; half a teaspoon top dressed on a four inch pot, one Tablespoon for a gallon pot or up…this will wash in with the plain watering or rain.
I used to make up all my own organic All-Purpose fertilizer blend and came across my recipe the other day. It is an adaption of Steve Solomon’s who started Territorial Seeds in Oregon, from which an off shoot became West Coast Seeds in Vancouver ... Four parts Alfalfa meal, one part Dolomite Lime, one part ground Rock Phosphate, one part powdered Kelp Meal. You choose the size of container you use to measure! I buy it ready made now, (because I use so much) and recommend one teaspoon prepping a four inch pot, one tablespoon per gallon pot or one half cup in a large pot for a small Rose or shrub. Do remember to layer this fertilizer half way through building your soil & baby in the pot, as it will mould on the surface as it breaks down ... You can also broadcast it on a box bed, mix it in, then top dress and plant. In my Tomato tunnel, I add it about two weeks before I plant for the nutrients to be readily available when I plant out.
Next, start your Roses off with this simple homemade “Spring start” formula; that Strawberries, Raspberries and Tayberries love as well. (My Citrus trees in pots too!) This is a lot less expensive than the fancy pictured little $10 boxes of Rose food and can do a large amount of Roses or berries. Basically it is one cup Rabbit Alfalfa pellets, one half cup Rock Phosphate and one quarter cup Epsom salts for each Rose. Borden’s or Integrity will sell smaller amounts if you don’t buy a sack full of each like me. Broadcast for your berries, then scratch it into the soil or better yet: place mulch on top! Remembering for acid loving Blueberries you can simply use one pint of white distilled vinegar to two gallons of water and pour directly around the root area to help keep the ph below 6.5 ... and still use the above mix for general nutrition.
Try to hold onto the magic of spring. The hopes of your seeds germinating, the patience to watch the little hump in the soil, then a crack ... And voila! Two little green hands waving in the air “I’m alive!” From that shrivelled bit of promise you carefully planted and just how DO they know which flower, tree or vegetable they will “grow up to be”?!
Lastly for you, a whimsy project to entice a bit of wonder and magic literally from the air. Add some scatter seeds for annuals that will entice bees, butterflies and birds to your garden. Buy a handful of seed packages of your favourite annual cut flowers and shake them all together before scratching and scattering ... I like to use ~ corn poppies, cornflowers, single calendula, single cosmos, nigella, phacelia, and zinnia. Choose single sunflowers with open centers for the bees to nuzzle their faces in and little birds later to perch and dine on, these are generally the smaller black or oil seed sunflowers. Sprinkle fragrant Alyssum along a front edge of a bed, I love these as much as the bees. Bumblebees adore my Sweet Lavender! Then after the Lavender Harvest, they visit my blooming perennial herbs; like Sage, Bergamot, Rosemary, Mint, Thymes ... even Yarrow and later Echinacea. Bees and Butterflies also like the annual Herbs of Dill and Coriander. Over wintered hatching Swallowtail butterflies go first for flower nectar and then need specific host plants for their eggs/babies ... Yes I know they will be hungry caterpillars but I don’t begrudge them my Parsley, Fennel, Angelica and Lovage to see them mature into floating bits of silk on wings! For Hummingbirds plant long spurred Columbine and deep throated Salvias, especially red “Honeydew Melon” or blue “Gentian” Sage that will bloom all summer ... With all this air traffic like a busy airport; you will never feel alone in the garden again!
Happy Success this Spring!
Originally published in the March 2012 edition of the Metchosin Muse