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Thu Dec 15, 2011, 09:28 PM

 

Hi, folks. I have a couple of questions

I am new at gardening and want to fertilize but do it naturally (organically). I have heard that coffee grounds are one possibility. Does anyone know if this applies to just the fresh ground or could you use freeze-dried crystals also? And what about egg shells? (I am looking to use stuff I already have to recycle and save money!)

Another question: I planted a few winter-friendly crops: carrots, beets, broccoli. I haven't been back to the site in a few weeks (it's a community plot) but the last time I went, everything seemed hardly to have grown at all! I believe I planted them around Sept. 1st. The packets said around 50 days so I expected them to be ready sometime in November. Any insight and/or tips?

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Thu Dec 15, 2011, 09:54 PM

1. Hi! here's a few thoughts and ideas....

Coffee grounds are great for improving soil tilth, drainage, constitution - but don't do much for fertility (adding essential nutrients). Freeze dried crystals would just dissolve - it is the non-solubles in the grounds that do the good. Egg shells are fine - chop them up - they break down slowly (we put the egg shells into our compost bin). For fertilizing naturally, you are looking to add N and P and K - nitrogen and potassium and phosphorous. Do some googling around - I tend to use the dilute blue stuff (Miracle Gro soluble balanced fertilizer), or a granular slow release (like Oscocote). For an organic alternative, the Tone series (tomato tone, plant tone, etc) are really good. But there is some expense for all of this. I am sure others here can add some good views. I am more of a variety and container gardening expert than culture expert.

As far as those crops - it depends where you live and the climate. Days to maturity are based on optimum growing conditions - and for things like broccoli and beets they like to start cool then get some warmth and sun. When the weather is cool, things grow very slowly. Days to maturity information on seed packets is really quite useless - for some plants it means days to maturity from good sized seedlings - for others from seed. Best thing to do is to look at a very informative seed catalog on line - like Johnny's Selected Seeds or Stokes - they provide really good cultural info.

Hope that helps a little! And enjoy gardening. It can be a most satisfying hobby - I've been an avid gardener for over 30 years....one thing to be aware of - every garden (each season) is an adventure and a learning experience. And for better or worse, it takes the mistakes to learn! Each year I have some things that surprise me in how well they do...and others that for whatever reason are the opposite - that's half the fun!

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Thu Dec 15, 2011, 09:59 PM

2. Starbucks puts used grounds out for customers to take home for gardening

My local restaurant puts them out in bags near the dumpster. Or, ask any coffee shop if you they could save a day's worth of grounds in a bucket.

I make fertilizer with coffee grounds, lime, gypsum, and rock phosphate. They call it "complete organic fertilizer": http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=246&topic_id=12943#12954
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2006-06-01/A-Better-Way-to-Fertilize-Your-Garden.aspx

As for your slow germination, it depends on your climate. I sowed in mid September and had very slow growth. My plants were in a cold frame, so they started growing again in the longer days of March and I harvested them in the spring. It was greens and carrots.

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 15, 2011, 10:43 PM

3. Thanks both of you!

 

I hope this doesn't sound silly, but I have checked out books from the library and even the "simple" gardening ones sometimes seem complicated to me. I guess it's just a matter of time and learning.

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Response to this bird has flown (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 15, 2011, 10:50 PM

4. Please ask anything. I (and I am sure others) will provide whatever info we can!

Everyone who has ever picked up a shovel to garden did it for the first time....and everyone who still picks one up learns something new they can share!

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Response to this bird has flown (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 19, 2011, 11:51 AM

8. I *do* use coffee grounds as the primary nitrogen source for my vegetable garden

I compost everything I can, so I can put a half an inch of compost on the raised beds every spring. Compost contributes a large amount of fertility to our garden.

I used to dump horse manure on the garden for a source of nitrogen. I do not any more because I don't have a suitable truck to haul manure.

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Fri Dec 16, 2011, 09:36 AM

5. What zone are you in? Nothing grows very well in frozen ground. n/t

 

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Sat Dec 17, 2011, 11:45 PM

6. A good starter place is to set up a worm bin

Worms eat leftovers, trimmings, funky veggies from the bottom of the fridge, old dog food, and pretty much whatever else you have (except meat, dairy, and potato chips.)

The castings are really rich and make terrific fertilizer.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 18, 2011, 06:32 PM

7. Thanks. I have thought of that...

 

Confession: It does give me the willies thinking about those wrigglers writhing thru my veggie tops, LOL

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Response to this bird has flown (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 19, 2011, 02:32 PM

9. You can buy the worm castings w/out the worms.

Every year, I get a 30lb. bag pf Wiggle Worm brand. You can buy it online (http://www.hayneedle.com/sale/wiggleworm.cfm?source=channel_intelligence_gbase&afsrc=1&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=HDR462-2) but I get mine at my local green/hydroponic gardening supply store.

The stuff is magic. I blend it in w/my soil when potting and sprinkle it about once a month after that. You can also make "worm tea" by soaking it in water overnight and pour that as a liquid fertilizer.

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Response to beac (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 12:50 AM

12. I started a worm bin like 3 months ago

and I've already got about 10 lbs of goodness.

They eat stuff that would have gone to the landfill.

I have a separate compost pile for stuff that's going to take MONTHS to break down, like small branches and 87,000 barrels of leaves and whatnot. I've also been working that for about 3 months, and it's the size of a VW bug.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 20, 2011, 02:20 PM

13. I looked into doing a worm bin, but our house is so small that I couldn't carve out a place that

wouldn't either have been too hot or too cold (never mind the loss of floor space.) Envying you your free poop!

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Mon Dec 19, 2011, 03:19 PM

10. Where do you live? As for coffe grounds and egg shells, compost them.

 

You don't need a very big compost bin. With a community plot, that could be an issue, but 5 gal. paint buckets are about right for hauling the completed mixture. You can put damn near anything you eat in the compost except for animal parts and remains (egg shells excluded). Fruits will draw hornets for a while, but they really enrich the compost.

Even if you compost, you should add a few things (organic). Powdered kelp (meal), greensand, gypsum, calcium, potash, alfalfa meal, and if you don't mind that they're animal byproducts, blood meal and bone meal. There are also general mixtures available. Whatever you put on, use less than recommended and apply it more frequently, and gently stir it in if you're applying it as a top-dressing. A lot of it will run off if you overdo it and you can burn the roots, especially with nitrogen.

The other thing to do is get a SHITLOAD of radish and lettuce seeds and plant them all throughout the year, in and around the plants. Both produce a massive network of fibrous roots that break up and build up the soil. Don't worry with harvesting them. If they are in the way when it is time to plant something else, turn them into the soil. I've turned heavy clay, rock and sand, and shale beds into fluffy organic beauty in about three years each. The sand and rock took a little longer (NH). It takes time. And don't worry too much about weeds if the plants are getting enough water. The weeds produce roots too!!

Crop rotation is also beneficial, but keep the nightshades (tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, etc.) in the same spot. They do better that way.

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Response to this bird has flown (Original post)

Mon Dec 19, 2011, 04:16 PM

11. This bird is 'stoned

Posting Privileges Revoked

Revoked on Reason Revoked by
Dec 18, 2011 Newbie sticking up for Ron Paul.

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