On our beach walk today I noticed that we once again have seaweed - for some reason it disappears during the dry season - I must remember that and stock up next time! It started raining but I couldn't stop myself and was running around dragging bunches of seaweed back to the car. I like to think I looked like a mermaid emerging from the deep bringing armloads of pure gold, but that would actually take a bit of imagination. I certainly felt as though I had struck gold!
The asparagus is now mulched with seaweed and some new shoots are appearing. Yummy - time to start harvesting them now!
The other thing I have been wanting to do for a long time is make comfrey juice. I do already use the leaves as mulch and add them to the compost. Glen, who gardens in a community plot in England has posted some very interesting reports on comfrey. Loosely following his instructions I have a pot of comfrey leaves which is going to drip down into the lower bucket.
Evidently one of the problems can be flies laying eggs and turning it into a maggoty mess so I used some leftover veil fabric from my daughters wedding to fly proof the container. ( I knew that would come in useful sometime!) The main thing is that this need to rot aerobically and this will allow a free flow of air. I have heard different reports of how bad this smells, but I am sure that if it is bad my hubby will ask me "what is in that bucket, are you a making that horrible weed tea again? "
Just thinking about it, I do use quite a few "strange" techniques in fertilizing my garden organically. I have built up quite nice rich soil in the 2 years I have been building this garden, so I am sure some of them work! I would say that my motto would be lots of different additives in small quantities added often.
Some of the "free" things I do:
1. Compost - hot - I have a bin and all kitchen scraps go into the bin, I keep adding to it, but do mix it up once or twice a week. I probably don't get all the way down to the bottom every time, but I can feel a lot of heat in it. I don't add manure - just don't like the idea! I don't intentionally add weeds that have seeds. I do add comfrey leaves, pigeon pea leaves and lemongrass which are supposedly accelerators. I would say that my compost consists of 20% household peelings, eggshells etc. 40% cuttings and green leaves. 40% shredded dry leaves and cardboard. I mostly keep an eye on it and if it seems a bit wet, I will just add some shredded newspaper or cardboard. I keep extra cardboard on my paths so it is nice and soggy and doesn't mat up when I add it. (It is the wet season) If it seems dry then I cut some green leaves and add them, and stir it up - mostly all it needs to get activated again is a good stir. Every couple of weeks I will drag a couple of bucketfuls of compost out of the bottom of the bin. If it is not quite broken down enough I might turn it back into the top again. In the tropics material breaks down so quickly that you don't really want to wait too long before using the compost. I read this information about a year ago and I feel that helped my garden immensely. So I am continually adding compost as mulch. I do get quite a few weeds, but they are easy to pull up - mostly passion fruit, pawpaw and tomato. Sometimes I let them grow where they are too.
2. Compost cold: I also have a old wheelie bin in which I have added layers of garden waste - green and brown layers, this does not get mixed, or added to, and hopefully will eventually create compost all by itself. I started that to see if it does better added all in one go without adding and taking away from the bin.
3. Leaf mould: In another wheelie bin I have extra leaves since at times the lychee tree sheds more leaves than my little compost bin can handle. Initially I filled the bin, wet it down and left it, and it has now reduced in volume by a half. I didn't want to mix new with old, so the next lot of leaves that I collected I placed in garbage bags, added a little water and placed just on top of the older leaves. Those can be lifted out to access the older leaves in the bottom. This process supposedly takes a couple of years.
4. Fish and shellfish: Whenever I have a fish carcass or prawn heads and shells I bury them in the garden. I also first discovered this from Kitchen gardeners International. I don't have a dog, but I cant say that it even attracts rodents - I normally just bury the whole packet wrapped in butcher paper about a foot or two deep.
5. Seaweed: I gather seaweed quite often and add to the compost, and also use as mulch on the asparagus. I think it is too salty for most other crops, although I did use quite a sizable layer of it when building up my original vegetable garden lasagna style.
6. Weed tea: When weeding I will place all the weeds in a bucket with a little water added and cover to let rot. This does smell pretty bad, but diluted with water I use as a foliar feed and feel I am not "wasting" the nutrients that the weeds have stolen from my garden. I cover the bucket so that I don't get flies and midges, but am not sure that is the right way - it might be better to incorporate some air, so this application needs a little more research.
7. Crusher dust: I occasionally add a little crusher dust to the ground as I feel this adds minerals and also keeps the sandy soil from getting compacted in heavy rain.
All in all I think that my gardening hobby is not an expensive persuit since I get so much fertlizer for free and save seeds, and propogate by cuttings. A winning deal all around!
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