...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tell Me the Dirt on It...

By mid-summer, you might be finding your plants slowing their production. In part that may be due to the passing of the season, but it may also be due to a soil bed that is growing weary and under-nourished. While you can't exactly till 6 inches of fabulous fertilizer into your full garden bed while plants are still making camp there, you can do a few things to enhance the quality of the soil. For starters, grab someone who might be watching Saturday morning cartoons and have him start tearing the weekend newspaper's ad bills, the non-glossy ones--if you're finished reading them--in strips while he watches his shows.

Now while he's busy, here's a good link to see the basics of initial "broadcast" fertilizing--the kind you do prior to spring planting, as well as ways to help plants like your tomatoes during the full-blown season.


So what are your options for mid-season fertilizing? One is to buy a jug of fertilizer that you can sprinkle around on the ground, leaving it to dissolve gradually and sink into the soil. You can also make compost tea to use, if you do composting. Some suburban neighborhoods don't permit compost bins in backyards, so hauling in bags from a nearby garden center might be your nearest hope for getting viable compost to use.

As for me, today, I used some age-old kitchen amendments on my garden. If you spend any of your mornings having coffee and eggs while reading the newspaper--well, you've made a great start in helping your garden soil along. These two links explain more fully why you might be adding these to the garden instead of the trash or recycle bin.


Is that child or grandchild finished shredding the paper for you yet? Here's an article you can show him so he knows why he was doing that strange chore for you.

And you, the gardening adult, might want to pay particular attention to the warnings at the last of that link about which newspaper to use. I never use the glossy ads just to be on the safe side of the heavy metals issue.
I like to use these treatments when I have an area of the garden that is "finished" with one plant but not yet host to another.

I took those newspaper strips and added them to just such a place in the garden. Finally, I find a benefit in my overly-rocky garden soil. I can put those rocks to work holding my half-buried newspaper in place until it decomposes enough that it won't blow away.

Meanwhile, my little helper looks for places to scatter the egg shells and coffee grounds. Two pointers--you want to dry out the coffee grounds a day or two before putting them on the garden, as they tend to invite mold if you put them out wet. Also, you can powder the egg shells as a great calcium supplement, but if you'd like for them to also repel cutworms and slugs, leave them as larger pieces, hand crushed, with a few sharp edges.

Today's final picture: a home-remedied swatch of garden soil in statio. Only beautiful to the visionary, but today's resting soil prepares for tomorrow's fall-crop planting.
Happy gardening!

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