Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Magic Potion for plants

We have been asked to reclaim a part of a property from overgrown grasses and other so-called weeds and turn it into a garden for the next season.

The soil around the property is generally rather poor, as is most of the surrounding area. So in order to have a good soil chemistry and good plant growth, we want to give it a boost and started to prepare a fertiliser mix that should introduce not only sufficient amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous, but also the necessary minerals needed for healthy plant growth.

There are 14-16 essential elements without which no successful growth can take place.  I say 14-16 as some are more or less important depending on the plant's requirements.

Note: as a side note it is worth to mention that weeds can actually fulfil the function of showing you which nutrients are in short, or excessive supply in your soil. Weeds in general aren't so much a nuisance, can but can tell you what needs to be done with your soil. If you have excessive dandelion growth for example your ground is too compacted and needs loosening (often occurring on trampled lawns, or bare soil, garden beds that tap-root breaks up the soil like a drill). Vetch indicates a low fertility, ie. low nitrogen in the ground. (It is a nitrogen fixer as it belongs to the legume family). Weeds can accumulate the necessary nutrients and bring them up from the deeper regions of the soil to where your annual veggies can reach them. Therefore, weeds should not be pulled as soon as they poke out of the ground. It is better to leave the weeds mature and pull them just before they start to seed. Let them wilt on the beds, till them back under or add them to your compost pile. This way the accumulated nutrients will be put back into the ground. 

In our case, the soil needs pretty much everything to start off as a vegetable garden. Although some nutrients are higher than others, we will brew a mixed fertiliser that can add all the main essentials such as:
zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), magnesium (Mg), molybdenium (Mb), Iron (Fe), Calcium (Ca), silica (Si), Sulphur (S), sodium (Na), potassium (K) Boron (B) and of course nitrogen (N);

So in this video we show you how to make such a brew using seaweed and other plants. If you don't have seaweed, a combination of nettles, camphor, and other plants mentioned in this video will also do the trick.

On thing should be mentioned as well...this brew can stink. Don't kid yourself, you might want to leave the container with the mixture down wind from any place you want to spend some time at especially when using nettles. 

It doesn't take much effort to make the brew. Simply gather some seaweed or nettles and other mineral accumulating plants and chop them up finely. Some people want to wash out the seaweed to get rid of the salt. I personally don't bother with this, because the liquid fertiliser will be diluted 1:10 before putting it onto any plants and there simply isn't going to be any effect of the salt. Sodium is, as outlined above is also one of the essential elements. You can add other things like egg shells to the mix to add more calcium for example. Our water is slightly acidic here and this helps to dissolve the nutrients into the water. 

Pic 1: Cutting up the seaweed....a stress relief exercise

Mash everything up really well and aerate the mix. Do this every 2-3 days for about 2 weeks. After that you can let the mixture sit for another 6 weeks. Then strain the solids out of the brew and use the liquid diluted with 10 parts of water on your plants. This mix is especially good when you are transplanting or trying to get cuttings to root. It stimulates both root and plant growth.

You can watch the video below to see how we did it. It's pretty quick and easy so if you can get hold of some seaweed, why not give it a go? Have fun!

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