Thursday, March 7, 2013

Garden Preparation: Part 1–Soil Supplements

I moved to this new apartment this past November, a big reason why being the giant south and west facing yard that surrounded the house.  My upstairs neighbour tried planting some things last year, with not much success.  She didn't supplement the soil at all and discovered it must be lacking.  After asking around for natural ideas, I've been collecting things for a few weeks to add to my soil when the time comes for planting.

I've used these in the past as a slug deterrent and it's pretty great.  Crush them around your plants and it hurts their bellies so they don't come near.  Bonus, they're also a great source of calcium and a little bit of nitrogen, so they're great natural fertilizers as well.
 Used coffee grounds:  
These are a great source of nitrogen (one of the main ingredients you'll find in all commercial fertilizers).  Nitrogen is essential to plant growth, and is difficult to pull out of the air, only done so by nitrogen fixing plants like beans and peas.  So, save up those coffee grounds and save some money on fertilizer!  

Blood Meal:
I had been given some by a colleague 2 years ago and have used a bit of it in the past.  Now I know what its for: Nitrogen!  I'm going to add that to my saved up supply of coffee grounds. I'm a much bigger egg eater than coffee drinker.

I came across this article and congratulated myself for being on the right track:
All the knowledge that had been passed down to be from friends and farmers was, in fact, ways of adding macronutrients to my soil. The macronutrients are:
  • N, Nitrogen
  • P, Phosphate
  • K, Potassium
  • Mg, Magnesium
  • Ca, Calcium
  • S, Sulphur
I've got the Nitrogen and Calcium covered, what else did I need?

Wood ash:
I've been hunting around for people with fireplaces...  Tricky in the city, but I'm on the lookout for this natural source of Potassium!

Epsom Salt:
I'm going to wait until I test my soil but Epson Salt (Magnesium Sulphate) is a good source of both Magnesium and Sulphur.

Banana Peels:
I just read about this today and am going to figure out a good way of saving up some banana peels for the spring as a natural source of both Potassium and Phosphorus.  I'll let you know how I decide to do this!


On an unrelated note, I'm quite proud of the soup I made up today!

2 medium organic onions
5 cloves Ontario garlic
3 organic potatoes
3 organic carrots
2 bunches of kale stems (totally useful after the kale was made into salad a few days ago)
2 small stalks of organic broccoli
organic chicken broth
3 tbsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste
3 tbsp tahini
fresh ground pepper to taste
fresh parsley ripped on top

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