The Perfect Time And Best Methods To Fertilize

Introduction.

Gardening has got several benefits that make it one of the best and indeed a popular hobby. It’s not only a great stress reliever and good for your heart, but it also gives you a sense of achievement.

If you love gardening, you’d agree that one of the biggest sources of confusion relates to fertilizers.

  • What’s, is the best time to fertilize?
  • How to apply fertilizers?

Most people make a mistake in either of these aspects, only to repent later. In this article, we discuss these key facets.

What are Fertilizers and Why Do We Need Them?

Fertilizers are nothing but the nutritional supplements for plants. Just like any other living being, plants also need certain nutrients to grow and survive. Generally, they obtain these from the soil; but if the soil doesn’t have an adequate quantity of these constituents, you need to substitute with the help of fertilizers.

Fertilizers can be of natural or synthetic origin and can have different percentages of chemicals; available in granular or liquid forms. The primary nutrients that constitute a fertilizer are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K); that’s why term NPK is a common terminology in fertilizers.

Which Fertilizers to Use?

To decide upon the type of fertilizer to use for your garden, you’ve to find out what nutrient is lacking in your soil. Which fertilizers to use can be accurately determined by observing the symptoms of deficiency in your plants. While a lack of nitrogen results in yellow leaves, phosphorus deficiency causes fewer flowers, and a shortage of potassium affects the stem strength.

Now that you know the basics of fertilizers let’s find out more about the right timing for applying and the application process of fertilizers.

The Right Time to Fertilize.

As you can now appreciate, it’s difficult to generalize the best time for fertilizer application. When best to fertilize depends on the kind of plants, levels of nutrients in the soil, and the type of fertilizers used.

Remember is that the fertilizer manufacturer knows best about the optimal application rates; therefore, you must follow the instructions given on the pack. Even if two fertilizers have a similar nutrient content, the application will depend upon their types. Fertilizer may be organic or synthetic, water-soluble liquid, granular, or time-released. More so, different plants will need varying quantities of fertilizers at different stages. Here are a few guidelines:

1.      Shrubs and Trees.

Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting shrubs and trees allows the plants to get a continuous supply of nutrition from the soil at their desired rates. Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting gives a constant and steady reserve of nutrients for the plants, from where they can draw their dose as required.

On the other hand, for trees and shrubs, you need to apply fertilizers on an annual basis. You can fix anytime for application, but the early spring season the best for fertilizing. Note that, if there are no signs of malnutrition shown by the plants, they may be getting their share of nutrients directly from the soil. In such cases, you need not use fertilizers.

2. Perennial Plants.

While planting new perennial plants, incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer at the bottom of the pit. Incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer will help your growing plants to get their nutrition from the soil; an all-purpose fertilizer will provide adequate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. to them.

For established perennial plants, just like shrubs and trees, applying fertilizer once every year is generally sufficient. Applying fertilizer in the early spring for perennials like rhubarb, berries, asparagus, etc. is effective.

3. Flowing Plants.

While the spring bloomers like hyacinths and tulips, generally don’t need any fertilizers, specific soils may need fertilizer application depending upon deficiency symptoms. You may fertilize perennial bulbs like alliums and daffodils post-flowering.

The flowers that bloom during summer, such as lilies, dahlias, and gladiolas, need fertilization while planting. A mid-summer fertilization may be necessary for dahlias and other flowering plants that need higher quantities of nutrients.

4. Annual Plants.

Annual vegetables and flowers need more nutrition to grow; therefore, annual vegetables and will require repeated application of fertilizer. Apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer while planting such saplings; this provides them a regular supply of nutrients during growth stages. After that, use liquid fertilizer to supplement their supply every month during mid-summer; the frequency of application should be no more than twice a month.

Optimum Application.

Contrary to the common belief, the growth and health of plants aren’t always directly proportional to the quantity of fertilizer used. If malnourishment is bad, an overdose of fertilizers can be equally harmful to the plants. Just like other living creatures, overfeeding of plants with a particular nutrient leads to problems.

Although you need to ensure that your plants get their share of nutrition, you don’t want to provide too much. An excess amount of nitrogen reduces the production of fruits and flowers while increasing foliage. Overdose of phosphorus hinders the plants from absorbing adequate zinc and iron from the soil, thereby affecting their overall health. If there’s too much potassium, the plants won’t be able to absorb their share of calcium.

Apart from adversely affecting plant health, the excess fertilizers may also cause water pollution by percolating into the groundwater. This polluted water then feeds the waterways, which leads to damages to the entire ecosystem. It’s therefore, essential to apply fertilizer judiciously.

Best Methods to Apply Fertilizer.

Now that we know the correct timings of the application of different types of fertilizers for different varieties of plants, you’re ready for the next step. Let’s have a look at the best ways of fertilizing your plants. There are several methods of applying fertilizers to your plants; broadcasting, placement, pellet application, and drilling are some commonly utilized methods.

Discussing them all is beyond the purview of this article, and it’ll be done in subsequent articles. Two of the most favorite and effective fertilizer application methods are:-

1. Topdressing.

Topdressing a type of the broadcasting method and frequently used for fertilizers rich in nitrogen. As the name suggests, the fertilizer applied from the top on crops that densely planted. This method allows the plants to easily absorb the nutrients as the fertilizer is in the top layer of soil. However, it has a few disadvantages, like promoting weed growth and underutilization of fertilizer.

2. Side-Dressing.

Side-dressing is a placement method of fertilizer application. The fertilizer is applied out placed in between the plant rows or around each plant. The following side-dressing methods can accomplish it:

Row Placement.

Nitrogenous fertilizer placed between rows of crops such as cotton, sugarcane, maize, etc.

– Individual Placement.

 For apple, papaya, mango, and similar trees and the grapes, the fertilizer placed around the roots.

Comparison Between Top Dressing and Side Dressing.

While the topdressing method is faster and less costly than side-dressing, it needs rains to make it effective. In the absence of rains, the top-dressed fertilizer won’t be able to reach to the place roots and hence gets lost or decomposed.

On the other hand, although the side-dressing method is slower and costs more, the fertilizer is less likely to be lost. It’s much easier for the plants to absorb the nutrients when fertilizer is placed near the roots.

Soil Amendments.

Soil Amendments are nothing but natural organic items that are added to the soil to amend its characteristics. Soil amendments may be necessary to improve soil fertility or other physical properties. In this section, we shall discuss soil amendments for enhancing its ability to support the growth of plants.

As already seen, fertilizers add essential nutrients to the soil; so, what’s the difference between fertilizer and a soil amendment element? Whereas the former can be natural or synthetic, the latter is always organic. Chemical agents can provide the necessary nutrients to the plants, but the amendments hi a step further as they improve the soil’s drainage and texture. The following are the two most effective and useful soil amendments:

1. Compost.

Compost is an organic matter that’s formed through decomposition of organic waste materials such as leaves, fruit, and vegetables remains, etc. This process called composting, and it breaks down organic waste to produce this excellent element. Compost is not only a great fertilizer, a natural pesticide, but also a perfect conditioner for the soil.

An ideal compost will consist of the following three components in the right proportions:

– Greens.

Greens consist of vegetable and fruit waste as well as grass pieces. It provides nitrogen to your compost.

– Browns.

Dead branches, leaves, and twigs compose the brown portion. These add carbon to the compost.

– Water.

It not only allows perfect mixing of the browns and greens but also supports composting.

2. Alfalfa Pellets.

Normally used to feed animals, the alfalfa pellets have been found to have a high percentage (5%) of absorbable nitrogen. It also has some traces of triacontanol, which is known to be a natural growth promoter for plants. Its pelleted form makes it easy to apply. It acts as a slow-releasing fertilizer and hence provides nutrition for a long duration.

Conclusion.

Fertilization is an important activity to get good crops and a beautiful garden. For best results, use the right type of fertilizer at the correct time and apply it in the most efficient method. You must not only observe your plants closely to understand their requirements but also read the instructions given on the fertilizer pack. In case you’ve got any further queries, we’ll be happy to answer them. Happy Gardening!

Organic Gardening – Posthole Composting

Are you an avid gardener? Are you dedicated to producing quality produce or an enviable garden? Studies have shown that not only is composting an excellent way to help the environment to reduce the carbon surplus that the earth experiences, but on a local level, it is an easy and affordable way to enrich the soil in your garden or yard. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “food scraps and yard waste currently make up more than 28% of what we throw away.”[i] Of course, while not all of that material can be reused in a compost, imagine what a reduction in even a small percentage of that number could do for our planet and for the soil!

As interest in preserving the environment grows, more people have become interested in how they can do their part. One of the many ways is through composting, or more specifically, posthole composting, which is more than a simple solution for waste reduction.

While you may have heard of the process of collecting organic material and allowing the organic material to decompose, which is known as composting naturally, this much simpler form of recycling is less well-known. Posthole composting is the process of using common kitchen scraps to fertilize and enrich a small area of land or dirt and to encourage nature’s workers to convert organic material into usable soil. It is simple, cost-effective, and provides your garden with invaluable nutrients.

Advantages Of Posthole Composting

Although it may not be the right option for everyone, posthole composting has many amazing advantages:

Traditional composting requires the use of a compost bin or pile. When you think about composting, you may think of a yard with a large pile of leaves, a compost tumbler or bin, or even a 55-gallon barrel requiring constant turning, maintenance, and feeding. On the other hand, posthole composting can be as expansive or scaled-down as you want it to be. No bin or pile is required. All you need is a small bucket to store your organic kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, and even coffee grounds.

Posthole composting does not require any special containers, location, or a large amount of space. You can compost wherever you expect to plant trees, shrubs, flowers, or vegetable plants. Even raised beds are a good place for posthole composting. All you need is a shovel and your kitchen scraps.

Composting requires the right environment: right temperature, an appropriate amount of moisture, the right organic material, and aeration. This last one may be a stretch for your mind, but a compost pile needs to be regularly disturbed and turned to speed up the decomposition process. When posthole composting, no maintenance or special conditions are required.

Earthworms, although seldom thought of, play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem. Earthworms add value to the composting process and help to speed up decomposition. Earthworms are attracted to the organic material in your compost hole and will flock to the soil in your garden. As they digest the organic material, they also leave behind feces, which provides additional fertilization. They also help to aerate and turn over the soil as they travel along. By digging your posthole 8 to 12 inches deep, you are placing the organic material right in the middle of the worms’ habitat. They will love you for it, and more importantly, the soil will receive the valuable nutrients produced through the process.

Does the cost of keeping your garden beautiful and lush keep you from doing it? Store-bought fertilizers can be expensive and, in some cases, harmful to the environment. Posthole composting is not only inexpensive but more importantly, it’s FREE. In theory, you are recycling waste from things that you already purchased and consumed.

Composting is also a great way to save on the cost of trash collection and space in landfills. By recycling household waste, you are reducing the amount of trash that will now be sent off to a landfill to rot amongst the old tires, cell phones, and water bottles.

Are you concerned about global warming? As the earth’s landfills reach capacity, overflowing into streams, rivers, and the ocean, more and more methane gases are released into the air at an alarming rate. By reducing the amount of organic material from the landfill by composting, you not only reduce the amount of space required in a landfill, as mentioned earlier, but it has the added benefit of reducing the volume of gases that seep into the atmosphere. Aside from the benefits to the soil in your yard, imagine how much you can reduce your carbon footprint by following this simple process.

Let’s be honest. You are very busy, and gardening can be time-consuming in and of itself. You may not have the time to be constantly turning, maintaining, and feeding your compost pile. It takes work! The beauty of the posthole compost is that all it takes is a few scraps from the kitchen and something to dig with. Nothing fancy required and no large time commitment. Just cover up your hole with soil, and you are finished! During the spring and summer, when the ground is not frozen, the entire process should require no more than 5 minutes yet provide substantial value to your garden or yard.

Water is, of course, a critical factor in how your garden or flower beds will grow. Compost helps the soil to retain water so that it can be used when external sources of water may not be available. The organic materials absorb the water and allow the plants to draw from it in between rainfall or watering.

Another advantage to posthole composting is that because of the relatively small amount of organic materials that you are using and assuming the right conditions, and your compost should decompose in a relatively short amount of time, from several weeks to just a few months. Within no time at all, the fruit of your efforts will be enriching the soil and providing valuable nutrients to your plants.

Sometimes referred to as the Dig and Drop Method, posthole composting is very simple. As the title suggests, ‘dig’ a hole wherever you want to place your garden, plants or trees, ‘drop’ in your organic material such as potato skins and eggshells, and top it with soil!

Lastly, vital nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of your plants. What better method of fertilizing your plants than from the source, from the ground up!

Words of Caution For Posthole Composting

While there are a vast number of advantages to posthole composting, I will also caution you about several things to avoid doing in the process.

  1. Be sure to dig your hole at least 8 inches deep but no more than 18 inches to prevent animals from catching the scent of the decomposing materials and dig it up. The deeper the hole, the more likely that the nutrients will simply seep into the groundwater, not providing your plants with any of their life-giving value. The best place for your scraps is in this area between 8 and 18 inches below ground level, where it will still receive water, yet the valuable nutrients will not be in jeopardy of being washed away.
  2. It is not recommended that meat or dairy products be included in your scrap bucket to be composted as the strong scent of rotting meat will draw rodents and dogs to your compost hole. Besides the fact, the odor will be highly unpleasant to you and your neighbors!
  3. Be sure to chop up kitchen scraps into small pieces to promote the decomposition process. Onions and potatoes, in particular, tend to sprout new shoots before they begin to decompose. Even the onion skins may be a bit tough on the process, so be sure that they are wet before putting them into your posthole.

We have briefly mentioned the types of things to add to your compost hole, but let’s look at it a little “deeper.” Meat and dairy products should not be included in your compost mix nor grease and bones. Not only would animals be attracted to your yard and potentially dig up your flower beds, but these materials require a much longer time to decompose.

Compostable Items To Posthole Compost

So, what exactly should you be putting into your kitchen scraps bucket? If you are like me, you have a small bucket the size of a children’s sand toy neatly stashed in your kitchen. As you go about your daily routine, cutting, chopping, consuming, you can toss the scraps into this bucket, allowing for easy, small quantity composting. In other words, one bucket, one posthole. You should chop or break up any large pieces to ensure that they break down quickly and easily. For example, crush eggshells to speed up the process.

What do I include?

  • Vegetable and fruit skins, rind and core
  • Leafy greens
  • Coffee grounds (toss the filter in there too!)
  • Corncobs/husks
  • Old bread
  • Peanut shells
  • Tea leaves
  • Eggshells
  • Cut flowers        

You may also want to include other household waste, such as:

  • Black and White newspaper (color or glossy newspapers will not break down the same way)
  • Pet and human hair
  • Cardboard cut into small pieces (remove any shiny material or plastic/tape as this is not biodegradable)
  • Ash (wood only)

How-to Posthole Compost

Posthole composting is an amazing, environmentally friendly way of enriching your garden and yard. To supplement the organic material, you can also add small amounts of organic fertilizer, such as alfalfa pellets, to speed up the decomposition process. When filling your posthole, be sure to casually toss in the organic material rather than compact it down. Space allows it to breathe and encourages microorganisms to congregate. Before covering the kitchen scraps with the soil that you removed, consider placing the grass or weeds that you removed when digging the hole on top, upside down, adding their nutrients and organisms to the composting process.

In my list of compostables above, you will see, pet and human hair. Although this is not necessarily a “kitchen scrap,” it does provide several added benefits in your posthole compost; hair helps to deter rodents from trying to gobble up the rotting delicacies that you have buried, and it slowly releases nitrogen, which is a crucial ingredient in turning your discarded food into nutrient-rich soil.

To the seasoned home gardener, posthole composting may seem inferior to traditional composting. However, the result is the same, an organic mixture that not only enriches and fertilizes the soil but also helps to save our planet, mother Earth, for future generations. Whether you plant right away on top of the organic material or you wait until it has decomposed, the composting process will certainly enrich the quality and beauty of your garden or produce.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the EPA’s promotion phrase to save money, energy, and natural resources. If every one of us were to attempt to follow this simple slogan, we could make a dramatic difference in the environment, the quality of our soil and those things which it produces and certainly, improve the quality of life for all of us. Composting is each person’s small contribution to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Posthole Composting A Summary

Posthole composting is not only inexpensive and ecologically sound, posthole composting may be the perfect option for gardeners but may have limited space, time, resources, and energy! There is no right or wrong in posthole composting, but rather it is simply part of nature’s recycling program. Posthole composting’s creates homemade fertilizer, which provides your garden with the nutrients needed to thrive and grow. You are just facilitating the decomposition process. Happy composting!

Making A Compost Bin From Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets can be a quick, cost effective, and easy do-it-yourself way of building a compost bin made of pallets. Also, reusing wooden pallets is an environmental friendly way to put wooden pallets to use in and around your home.

Advantages of making a compost bin of wooden pallets

  • Wooden pallets are low cost, generally free given a little research and sweet talking. You may even have a couple laying around from your last couple of projects.
  • Wooden pallets which are in good condition, they can last for years, even without any sealer treatment.
  • A large capacity compost bin can be created in very little time, once the pallets and required supplies have been gathered.

Where to get wooden pallets?

  • If you don’t already have some wooden pallets available, local small businesses are the best place to look. Smaller companies occasionally get a few pallets and then have to figure out how to dispose of them and, therefore are often willing to let someone have the pallets if nicely asked.
  • Larger companies tend to have arrangements for the pickup of their pallets already, but there is no harm in asking.
  • Also, construction sites, usually, have a few stray pallets laying around which they generally happy to be rid of.

How to choose your Pallets?

  • Pallets should be undamaged, not overly weathered, and free of rot.
  • Pallets should be of the same length, width, and height.

What supplies will you need?


Four pallets will be needed for a single stand-alone compost bin. If you are going to make addition bins, which will share a wall with a previous bin, you will need three pallets for each additional compost bin. For example, two bin requires seven pallets; three compost bins requires ten pallets.
Enough heavy duty zip ties or enough heavy duty wire (e.g., baling wire) to bind the pallets. Approximately 15, 12 inches or longer heavy duty zip ties for a stand-alone compost bin and each additional compost bin.
A cleared, level spot for large enough the compost bins and to permit access to the compost bins to check, repair, fill, turn, and empty the bins. Be sure to consider the size of any equipment you may desire to have access to your compost bins; things like a yard tractor or a wheelbarrow.
Fence posts to provide additional support (optional). For a stand-alone compost bin, four sturdy metal posts, at least as tall as the pallet once driven into the ground. Three more fence posts for each additional compost bin. Over the years, I have found fence posts keep the pallets straight and upright.

How to Assemble you Compost Bin

  • If using fence posts for support, place you first corner post,
  • then attach the pallet securely with sturdy wire (like bailing wire) or zip ties to the fence post.
  • Proceed to the other end of the pallet and repeat the process adding the second pallet.
  • Then repeat the process the process to attach the third pallet.
  • While you are doing this you will want to make sure that each pallet is maintaining a 90 degree angle, so, your compost be in finishes as a proper square.
  • When you mount the the fourth pallet you will want to make it more like a gate, so, you have easy access to turn your compost pile and, eventually, to empty the compost bin. So, you can either secure in a way that you can easily open it or add hinges on one end and some form of a lock on the final end.

Working with wooden posts

  • If you would prefer to make your compost bin using wooden posts you will want to plant you wooden posts and secure your pallets with either nails or screws (which I strongly recommend) rather than tying the pallets in place. Nails have a habit of working loose.
  • Otherwise the process is essentially the same.

To Make a Multi-bin system

  • You can by using either side of the compost bin, as you face the gate and add three more pallets for the new bin.
  • Don’t forget to make the last pallet a gate, just like the first compost bin, and you will want it on the same side as your existing gate.
  • You simply, repeat the process for each additional bin you wish to add starting with the side of the existing compost bins, where you which to add the new compost bin.

Your compost bin is built, what now?

  • Once constructed, line the bottom with permeable a protective barrier to prevent grass and weeds from taking over your compost bins.
  • This permeable protective barrier can be a commercial landscape cloth or couple of layers of flattened cardboard boxes or several layers of newspaper work well for this purpose.
  • And begin adding your compost materials in layers, being sure to water to each layer.
  • Be sure to mix your ingredients and turn your compost bin regularly.

Related References

What Is Green Manuring?

Green Manure Growing In Autumn Garden
Green Manure Growing In Autumn Garden

Green manuring or growing a cover crop for the purpose of cultivating the crop under, as another source of soil humus and a common practice among home gardeners, especially, organic gardeners. Annual and Quick-growing crops, such as winter rye, buckwheat, ryegrass, and mustard, are good for this purpose. They should be cultivated into the soil just before they flower for best results and to avoid seed production.

To solve the problem of temporary nitrogen deficiency after turning these crops under add some balanced fertilizer according to the vendor instructions and or adding some composted animal manure.

Legumes, such as soybeans, vetches, cowpeas, alfalfa, and clovers, have nodules on their roots that house special nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria take free nitrogen from the air, convert it to forms usable by plants, and hold it. When legumes are used for green manure added nitrogen is not needed.

Related References

A Guide To Protecting the Soil in a Permaculture Garden

Permaculture Erosion Protection
Permaculture Erosion Protection

It is important for all gardeners to remember that the soil is one of nature’s most precious resources. We rely on the soil in our gardens in order to grow food. Without the soil ecosystem, plants simply would not be able to survive – and neither would we. This guide to protecting the soil in a permaculture garden will help you ensure that the soil is safeguarded now and for the future.

Protecting Soil Through Planting

One of the main ways that we, as gardeners, can protect the soil is through making the right planting choices. There are several different ways in which plants can help to protect the soil. These include:

  • Stabilizing slopes and loose soil with their roots.
  • Preventing water run-off and erosion.
  • Encouraging the formation of beneficial bacterial and/or fungal networks below the soil.
  • Providing biomass (leaves & other organic matter) which improve soil structure and nutritional content.
  • Creating shade or ground cover to reduce moisture loss from the soil.

Protecting Soil Through Organic, ‘No Dig/ No Till’ Gardening

In addition to taking care to make the right planting choices for a given location, gardeners can also make sure that the soil in their gardens is protected by choosing to avoid damaging gardening practices.

In organic gardens, no pesticides or herbicides are used. Rather, natural methods such as companion planting are used to retain and good balance and keep pest numbers down. By keeping the soil ecosystem free from pollutants that can damage it, organic gardeners help to maintain good soil health.

In addition, many permaculture gardens operate a ‘no dig/ no till’ system. Rather than digging in organic matter and disrupting the fragile soil ecosystem, permaculture gardeners disturb the soil as little as possible. Instead of digging in fertilising material/ organic matter, permaculture gardeners lay materials on top of the soil.

Protecting Soil Through Mulching

In a no dig garden, the main way to add nutrients to the soil is through mulching. Mulching is simply the practice of adding organic matter, compost or well-rotted manure onto the soil surface (also known as top-dressing). When the soil ecosystem is left undisturbed, the biota contained within the soil are able to do their job. Over time, they will draw the nutrients down into the topsoil and incorporate the material for you so there is no need to dig and disrupt the processes at work below.

In a forest garden, much of the work is done for you as a natural mulch will begin to form below your trees and shrubs, as deciduous trees and other plants drop their leaves. Organic material from the forest garden can be simply chopped and dropped where it stands to build up the ‘forest floor’.

The problem with many modern farming and gardening practices is that they neglect or even actively do harm to the soil. In a permaculture garden, protecting and enhancing the soil should always be a top priority.

Related References

How To Create a Great Garden Culture?

Cabbage in Garden Patch
Cabbage in Garden Patch

Gardens are ecosystems like any other – but unlike other ecosystems, we as gardeners have the power to influence what happens within their borders. While all areas in the natural world can be shaped to a degree – it is our gardens where we have the greatest level of agency and control.

In our gardens, we can shape the natural environment and work with nature to meet our own needs and desires. The key to designing, creating and maintaining a successful and sustainable garden lies in understanding what we as gardeners can do to work with nature to achieve our goals. The tips below will help you to create a great garden culture – a holistic system that works for you and for all the plants and wildlife with which you share your space.

Promote Biodiversity in Your Garden

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in a garden is attempting to grow mono-cultures. One of the main problems with large-scale food production is that too few crops are grown over too large an area. Growing only one type of plant en masse can lead to all sorts of problems. Not only are mono-cultures more likely to succumb to pests and disease, but they are also less resilient to changing weather patterns and can cause a degradation of the overall ecosystem.

The same that is true of large-scale agriculture is also true in a garden. Organic gardeners have discovered the benefits of creating polycultures (cultures with a diverse range of plants). By growing a wide range of species, organic gardeners can reduce the likelihood of disaster and improve the resilience of their growing areas. Interplanting various different plants can increase the range of beneficial interactions between them, as well as making it easier to garden organically. Of course, having more plant species can also help to attract a wider range of beneficial wildlife.

To promote biodiversity, interplanting (creating polycultures) is crucial. Annual food crops can be interplanted with other secondary crops of herbs, other vegetables or flowers, while perennial planting schemes form ‘guilds’ of plants which help one another in a wide range of different ways. Companion plants may:

  • Provide shade for other plants.
  • Provide ground cover around plants which reduces moisture loss from the surrounding soil.
  • Dynamically gather nutrients (nitrogen from the air, or nutrients from far below the soil surface) which can be taken up by neighboring
  • Attract pollinators (such as bees and other insects) that allow pollination to occur and fruits to set.
  • Attract predatory insects or other animals such as birds or mammals which eat pest species and keep an ecosystem in balance.
  • Serve as ‘trap’ crops to attract pests that would otherwise damage or destroy more valuable crops.

As well as concentrating on creating a biodiverse planting scheme, organic gardeners can also take other measures to improve the biodiversity (and resilience) of their gardens. For example, gardeners can:

  • Create a wide range of different habitats – g., wild corners, brush piles, meadow, woodland/forest areas, a garden pond, etc.
  • Provide food for birds during winter/ periods of scarcity.
  • Provide ‘housing’ for bees, bugs, birds, bats and other beneficial garden creatures.

Squash Bugs On Melon Vine
Squash Bugs On Melon Vine

Control Pests and Disease

Creating a biodiverse garden is the number one way to control pests and mitigate the effects of the disease. The more biodiverse a culture is, the more harmony will be found within the system. This means that pest species are far less likely to get out of control. There will be no need for harmful chemicals to control pests when the wildlife can do a lot of the job for you.

Of course, there are also other things that you can do to control pests and disease in your garden. Maintaining a great garden culture involves understanding the mechanisms by which pests and disease will spread and doing what you can to reduce the risk of these problems occurring too often in your growing areas.

Good plant hygiene, tidiness and an orderly approach can help to stop things getting out of control. For example, gardeners should:

  • Avoid growing certain annual crops in the same growing area year after year. A good system of crop rotation for plants in the tomato family, brassicas, alliums and legumes can help keep the disease at bay and keep things running smoothly.
  • Keep on top of weeds to avoid excessive crowding or competition. (Weed little and often in main growing areas – though remember some weeds can be useful to the garden as a whole.)
  • Keep paths, greenhouses, polytunnels and garden furniture clean and clear of debris.
  • Avoid spreading disease from one area of the garden to another or from one season to the next on garden tools, pots or containers, gardening equipment or through compost.
  • Only incorporate plants into your garden that come from a trusted source and not damaging biosecurity by importing non-native plants or species, or items that may have come from an infected site.
  • Promptly remove all plants in your main vegetable garden that are past peak-production or have come to the end of their useful life, so the disease cannot fester and the area can be used for successional crops.

If you do have an outbreak of pests or disease in your garden you should:

  • Treat pests/disease organically where this is possible.
  • Where plants will not recover, remove all damaged or diseased materials as soon as possible and dispose of them well away from other crops. (Burning items where necessary and making sure they don’t end up contaminating your growing areas or composting area.)
  • Thoroughly clean all garden tools, gloves, etc. that have come into contact with the diseased
  • Wash hands, pots, etc. thoroughly before using them for any other jobs around the garden.
  • Look for ways to promote better harmony/ greater biodiversity in your garden culture in the future.

Feed And  Protect the Soil in Your Garden

Promoting biodiversity and taking measures to reduce the incidence or spread of pests and disease will go a long way towards creating a great garden culture. But there is one more vital element that will ensure that you can keep your garden culture sustainable over the years to come: care for the soil. No matter how well you tend your garden in other ways, if you do not care for the soil – production and appearance will soon begin to suffer.

In an organic garden culture, feeding and protecting the soil should always be a number one priority. As mentioned above, crop rotation is one of the important ways to make sure your garden thrives. As well as reducing the incidence of pests and disease, moving annual crops from one growing area to another on a rotational basis each year will also help to ensure that the soil retains a good balance of nutrients. For example, legumes planted the year after brassicas or other leafy plants will help to replace the nitrogen in the soil.

Other methods that should be used to protect garden soil include:

  • Adoption of a ‘no-dig’ approach
    • A no-dig garden is one in which the soil is disturbed as little as possible. This allows the soil’s complex web of biota to function as it should. Bacteria and fungi and larger soil creatures such as earthworms all, serve important functions in the soil web. No dig gardening allows these creatures to flourish – to the benefit of the plants and, ultimately, the gardener.
  • The use of organic mulches
    • In a no dig garden, rather than digging compost/ manure or other amendments into the soil, the gardener simply leaves these materials on the soil surface as an organic mulch. It has been shown that this material is naturally incorporated into the topsoil below without the agency of a spade. Using compost, fall leaves, grass clippings, comfrey leaves, seaweed, straw, bark or other materials to cover the ground around cultivated areas helps to complete the natural cycles and return nutrients into the system. Choosing the right mulch materials for the right situation can help the garden culture to remain healthy and even to be improved over time.
  • The use of green manures to protect and enrich the soil
    • ‘Green manures’ are simply cover crops that protect the soil surface from erosion and degradation. Nature abhors bare soil in most situations and leaving soil bare for too long means causing damage to the fragile topsoil ecosystem. Cover crops create a ‘green carpet’ over an area to make sure the area of soil is preserved. Green manures are cover crops which have been chosen to not only protect but also to enrich the soil. These are cover crops which are chopped and dropped to return the nutrients to the topsoil system. Like other organic mulches, these ‘green manures’ can form an important part of an organic garden system.

The above should help organic gardeners to plan and implement their garden cultures in a way that will ensure that the culture is not only great, but also sustainable, and can continue to provide food and other resources for them and their families for years to come.

Related References

Coffee Grounds in the Garden

Coffee Beans and Grounds
Coffee Beans and Grounds

Coffee grounds are one of the kitchen wastes and business, which can be recycled in the garden. So then, the discussion becomes how to use the coffee grounds.  Using coffee grounds in the garden, basically, come down to composting. There several approaches to composting, which can be applied to coffee grounds.

The Value Of Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer

  • The three principal nutrients by which the value of fertilizer is typically measured are; Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Measured by those nutrients, Coffee grounds do have value as a fertilizer when used as compost or applied directly as a soil

The NPK Value of Coffee Grounds

  • Nitrogen (N):28 percent
  • Phosphorus (P):06 percent
  • Potassium (K):6 percent

How Much Coffee Grounds To Use

  • When using coffee grounds as compost or when applied directly as a soil amendment, the volume of coffee grounds should be limit to more than 20 percent of the soil or mix to which it is being added. This rule applies to sheet, trench, and/or postal composting.

Coffee Grounds As Mulch

  • Coffee grounds are generally, fine ground and easily compacted so much so that they can form a barrier not allowing air and water to pass through your mulch. For this reason, coffee grounds are generally not recommended for use as mulch.

Sources of Coffee Grounds

From you Own Kitchen

  • An obvious source of coffee grounds as your own kitchen, Americans tend to drink coffee nearly every day so rather than throwing your coffee grounds in the trash toss minute compost bin and use of her garden fertilizer.

From Your Local Coffee Shop Or Restaurant

  • If you’d like to have more coffee grounds or you’re not getting enough coffee grounds for your purpose from your own kitchen, there are several local opportunities to acquire coffee grounds. In my local area, there are coffee shops like Starbucks or on the grind from which coffee grounds can be readily obtained. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen signs in the local Starbucks saying to ask the barista for coffee grounds for your garden. However, coffee shops may be an obvious choice, but there are any number of restaurants and cities and towns which can be taken advantage of with a little creative negotiation with the owner-operators.

Related References