Thursday, April 21, 2011
The garden has been a huge expense this year. First the tilling, then the fencing, then the seed re-buying, the sprout buying when the seeds failed, the tilling again, irrigation supplies, more fencing, the W.O.R.K. of getting it all together and now, nearly May and the garden is truly a pathetic 1500 square feet.
Which is really sad because soon the weather will get too hot. The green plants visibly wilting in the afternoon sun. Bugs will start coming in and slaughtering whatever fruit dares to even consider ripening. Other than the tomatoes and perhaps the underground roots and legumes, everything out there is visibly failing.
The forty-two cucumbers are only 6" tall at most after sprouting 8 weeks ago (and that height including the ones I bought from seedlings nearly that size already) and sport one tiny 1/2" long cucumber among the lot. The seventy seven pole beans are yellow and sickly looking, around the same size and though they're flowering, have yet to really take off after more than 2 months. The broccoli has produce only 2 small dollar coin sized heads before going to flower out of eighteen plants. Most of the over 100 corn stalks are yellowed and haven't grown since I transplanted them. Same with the 6 eggplants, 12 canteloupes, 30 zucchini, 15 yellow squashes, 6 strawberries etc. etc. you get the point.
Talking with my neighborhood plant guy, my problem is probably fertilization related. Meaning, I have none.
The earth up here in the wide open country is a layer cake of disaster; a half inch of white sandy soil covers a sandy-but-dark soil and six inches or so under that lies a thick redish orange clay. So much different than the rich, loamy ink black soil I had in the city. So ironic, really.
But I have ammended the soil with cured horse manure, epsom salts, coffee grounds and rabbit manure. Two weeks ago I bought a bottle of The Scotts Co. 100250 Miracle Gro Organic Choice Plant Food. The first "chemical" fertlizer that I've allowed myself to ever use. Today, I started the second round of feeding. It's a lot of work filling up a 2 gallon jug and hand watering by 20 square feet at a time. But gardens are work, growing food is work. It's par for the course in farming.
So, what do I do if this doesn't work? The first round didn't really seem to make an impact, I'm not sure what another dose will do. My lovely neighborhood farmer uses 16-4-8 and he gets fantastic results (he doesn't use herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, just the fertlizer in the ground.) And it's making me want to go out and buy a bag to try it.
For those of you that grow organic, what am I missing here? For those that know more about fertilizer than I do, what exactly is in this magic potion of a chemical mix that my garden is so desperate for?
I have always said I prefer local over organic but when it comes to dousing my own plants with unknowns I really am not feeling comfortable with this. Someone show me the way!