Garden Essentials

Machaelle Wright has a list of soil amendments and nutrients that she uses in her garden.  She uses muscle testing (applied kinesiology) to determine what nutrients and soil amendments are needed for any given plants at any given time.  This method clearly works very well for her.

This is not a practical solution for my garden, so I have found a really good organic fertilizer that covers the garden’s basic needs, and I supplement as needed.  The fertilizer I use is Garden Tone, by Espoma.  I have gotten excellent results with this fertilizer.  I also use compost that I make myself, and a product called Superthrive, which can be added to water and fed to the roots, but I use it for foliar feeding.  I get amazing results just from these three things.

Most of the other things I use go into the compost instead of directly into the garden.  Along with my kitchen scraps, I also put alfalfa pellets in (for protein), Black Hen chicken manure (for nitrogen), and Espoma Compost Starter to give it a good balance of things that will help it do its composty thing.  I also add some dry plant material, like leaves from the fall, which I store all year in large plastic trash bags until I run out.  I find that heavy duty contractor bags work the best and can be used over and over.  This summer I’m experimenting with adding some sphagnum moss to see if it gives the compost a better texture than I’ve been getting.  Hopefully the sphagnum will lighten it up a bit.  I was having a problem with my compost being very heavy, and this was making it very hard to turn.  I’m also adding some lime to adjust the pH, since  Sphagnum is pretty acidic.
We’ll see how it goes with this experiment.  I get help from nature in determining how much of each to use.  Basically I just ask the nature intelligences how much to use, and they tell me, and that’s what I put in.  I’ll know how well it works when this batch of compost is finished and I can test it with my soil testing kit.

I’m very fortunate to have an excellent farm supply store a few miles away from me, and I can get almost everything I need there.  Anything I can’t get there or at a local hardware store, I get online.

Another essential that I use in this garden is a drip irrigation system.  The soil here is sand, and the climate in the summer is extreme.  Things dry out very quickly here, even when mulch is used.  The drip system allows me to use a lot less water than I would otherwise, and it waters the roots and not the foliage, which is much less wasteful.  We got ours from this outfit, The Drip Store, and we’re quite happy with it.  But there are other companies that make similar products, and they might be just as good.  We have ours on a timer, which is a blessing as far as I’m concerned.

I can gauge how well these things are working purely in terms of the physical vitality of the plants by comparing how my plants look to how the plants look in other gardens in my neighborhood.  On average, my plants tend to be twice as big, and they seem to last longer into the season than most of the others.  They are producing at least as much as the plants in other gardens around here, and because they are larger and they tend to last longer, I probably get a lot more produce overall.  In terms of energy vitality, I think I still have a fair bit of work to do to bring that up to where it should be.  But I think that is a part of the process that nature has told me needs to happen gradually.

An essential that I have only learned I needed this summer is row covers to help shade the plants in the hottest part of the summer.  The sun was so hot on the plants this year, it was literally cooking some of the veggies on the plants.  I’m experimenting right now with this kind of row cover.   Ideally, a black knit shade cloth would be the best thing to use, but it’s not in our budget right now.  I don’t have it directly over the plants, but suspended a couple of feet above them.  We’ll see how it goes.  I might have to cover the whole garden with it next year.  And maybe get some black knit shade cloth just for the lettuce.  That would certainly make it a lot more comfortable working in the garden when the sun is high.  A big storm or wind could be a problem, though, because the row cover wants to act as a sail.

Here is an essential that I discovered this year.  I found it at Home Depot, quite by accident.  I bought some garden velcro to tie up plants, but now I find that I’m using it for all kinds of things that I never imagined.  I’m even using it to tie up the row cover to its posts.  This stuff is amazing.  As long as I have access to garden velcro, I will never use anything else to tie up plants.  You can use it over and over, it doesn’t cause damage to the plants, you can adjust the tightness of it around the plants as often as you want, and it’s incredibly quick and easy to do.  You can connect more than one piece together if you have a lot of ones that you cut and used previously, in order to make one longer piece.  I store previously cut pieces of it on my tomato cages so there is always some within reach whenever I need a piece.  You just slap them on, and they stay there.

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