Fertilizer, Part I: Pretend I am doing this.

(Part II to follow tomorrow.)

Fertilizing is one of the garden areas where I have a tendency to drop the ball. Once I get everything in in the spring, I always feel like I should be able to rest on my laurels* and wait for the abundant harvest to be produced. In organic gardening (which my garden mostly is), the focus is on building the soil to be rich and healthy rather than fertilizing individual plants. You feed the soil on an ongoing basis, and the soil feeds the plants. This dovetails nicely with the laziness I just described. I can simply do nothing and pretend it’s because I’m being an organic gardener, rather than acknowledging that it’s just a moral failure.

So, I do add manure, worm casings and compost to my soil in the spring, and I smile happily at the worms I find in the garden (and if I come across them while I’m digging I carefully move them to a demilitarized zone), and I think happy thoughts re: the garden ecosystem, and other than that I sort of don’t do anything. Of course, this magic earth-nurturing might not be happening effectively in my garden, and I would have no way of knowing, because I have never had a soil test.**

However, my plants do keep growing and tasting delicious and so on, so it can’t be that bad. My garden is still relatively new (in its sixth summer I think? Or seventh) so I might notice overall soil fertility decline as the nutrients that came in the soil get used up. Or maybe that has already happened. Maybe I have no idea what plants are supposed to look like, and the ones in my garden are actually pathetic. Wow, as I write this, my self-confidence is really declining.

Anyways, when my garden starts looking less happy and healthy (droopy lime-green leaves instead of leaf-green leaves being the main sign), I do add some organic fertilizer. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll divulge my trademarked, top-secret*** organic fertilizer recipe. STAY TUNED.


**You should do this. Apparently. Every garden book ever written tells you to start by getting a soil test done. But when I started my garden, I was far too busy building terribly-designed raised beds and filling them with individual bags of potting soil purchased from my local Big Box Retailer (tm!) and then planting my seedlings way too close together and then half-digging them up to see if they were growing, and then in the intervening years I have still never gotten around to it. Maybe on the ten-year anniversary of my garden I’ll treat myself to one.

***Not trademarked and not top-secret. Cobbled together from a variety of garden books and then revealed to the entire internet on this very blog. Same bat-channel.

A great haul, August 2015

Public libraries do something called “weeding” (or put even more obscurely, “de-acquisitioning”) which really means “getting rid of books.” Sad, I know. But we’re buying new books all the time, so according to the laws of physics, we have to get rid of the old ones sometimes.

My library’s annual booksale is in a week or so, and the librarian who was weeding the nonfiction let me go through the cart of weeded gardening books and buy the ones I wanted. These were my picks, along with a handful of gardening magazines a second co-worker saved for me. There are perks to this job, if you’re the kind of person who considers the opportunity to buy used books before the general public can do so a “perk”.

Carolyn Herriot’s The Zero-Mile Diet [amazon | library] is a really good book containing many good ideas. The reason I never bought my own copy is that I thought, foolishly, that the library copy would always be there. Now the library copy is mine. And it was 50 cents.

Cucumbers and squashes! Aug 3

Three standout squashes!

The three yellow cucumbers are Lemon Cucumbers (seed from Heritage Harvest Seed). They are growing better than most other cucumber varieties have in my yard in the past; I’ll definitely grow them again. I also like that they don’t really need to be peeled. I have a way with killing cucumbers.

The zucchini are two different varieties, Dark Star and Black Beauty. Both have grown very well this year as well.

Weird things you can eat: Found it in the garden pizza

At this time of year, we eat anything we can find in the garden on pizza. Our tomatoes aren’t ready, but I put kale and walking onions from our garden on these pita-pizzas, plus broccoli sprouts, salami and ajvar (instead of pizza sauce).

My husband calls them Walken Onions, and while he's cutting them he talks in a Christopher Walken voice.

My husband calls them Walken Onions, and while he’s cutting them he talks in a Christopher Walken voice.

I’ve also been known to put zucchini on pizza. It’s not that great, but at least then you don’t have the zucchini anymore.