Even though I live in an apartment I have started growing at least some of the food I eat, saving money, boosting my health, conserving energy and having lots of fun. The things I have grown so far, on my balcony, are tomatoes, potatoes, jalapeno peppers and flowers..

Later on in the future I plan to keep bees(maybe), and raise chickens for the fresh in the morning eggs.

When the harvest is in, i'm over at my blog ‘Family Gatherings Recipes’ learning how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits of my labor.

In today’s economic climate, it only makes sense to grow some of your own food. And I'm learning the easiest, most convenient, productive ways to grow a little, a lot, or even ALL the food my family and I eat each day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Seaweed Fertilizer — Using and Composting Seaweed for Your Garden

To make a long story short, I love seaweed. I mean the garden loves seaweed, and the garden is the ultimate boss, so I aim to please the garden!

The short version of this love fest for seaweed follows...

In edible terms, the many forms of aquatic plants are called 'sea vegetables', and you'll find the likes of dulse, kombu, wakame and more in shops.

Like vegetables they are bursting with minerals and oh so good for you — even if you only have some wrapped around sushi sometimes.

Seaweed in the garden, how do I love thee... let me count the ways:

1.Seaweed fertilizer is actually a bit mis-named. It is more of a tonic, due to the low quantity of nitrogen and phosphorus... although it does have the full range of properties in it to improve your soil. As well as supplying bulk to condition the soil, seaweed contains around 60 trace elements, growth hormones and nutrients, and fungal and disease preventatives. Interestingly any soil imbalances, such as a deficiency of nitrogen, will be corrected by adding seaweed which will balance the soil environment so that nitrogen fixing bacteria are helped along.

2.Seaweed stays put if you put it on the garden. It doesn't blow away or clump together or roll away.

3.Seaweed deters pests. Birds don't like to get hurt with it when it's hard and scratchy and don't like getting tangled with it when it's wet and slinky.

4.Same with dogs, cats and many other critters. It's just too darned awkward, and for some animals the smell is off-putting.

What's the best way to use seaweed on the garden?

Firstly, there is no need to wash seaweed because the sand and salt water clinging to it contains essential elements that will benefit plants. Unless you happen to have a high sodium content in your soil, remember, there is no need to wash seaweed before using it in or on your garden.

Secondly, don't try cutting seaweed up with a mower because there are stones, sand and shells hiding in it.

Thirdly, dry and hard seaweed is just as phenomenal for plant growth as when it's wet and soft. The older and harder it is, obviously the longer it will take to break down and supply nutrients to the soil for feeding your plants.

Fourthly, many countries have rules about protecting their marine coastlines, which includes the harvesting of seaweed. Commercial operators you are not, so it's unlikely you will deplete this resource by strolling along the local beach and filling up a bag with seaweed.

However check beforehand, and if you can't find any information about your area, or there are no notices on the beach, follow these guidelines:

It is fine to pluck floating seaweed and seaweed below the high tide mark. Seaweed that has washed up above the high tide mark often makes a valuable contribution to the biodiversity of the beach and surrounds. It helps stops sand erosion and provides a habitat for local plant and insect life.

And lastly, there is concern that polluted waters pollute the sea life also. Sadly fish certainly have accumulations of medicines, farming chemicals, heavy metals such as mercury and zinc. Be aware that seaweed could be also so aim to get it from unpolluted water.

Now get your creative juices flowing... because seaweed is so versatile, here are some tried and tested ways gardeners and farmers, have used seaweed. . . .

Green algae is a form of seaweed

Put seaweed straight on top of the garden, wet or dry. Snake it around plants and chop the bigger kelp fronds first with a sharp spade or let them dry then break them up. Great for tree roots — no need to go close to trunk, put it further out and up to the drip line.

Composting seaweed is popular and produces wonderful compost—put in hand deep layers between other materials. Seaweed acts a compost activator to help speed up... well, the compost making.

Many growers of potatoes like to dig out a trench and put seaweed in the bottom, then a layer of good soil or compost. The seed spuds sit on this and are covered with more soil. Putting seaweed in the bottom of holes before planting other plants, such as tomatoes, asparagus and rhubarb is an excellent way to supply seaweed fertilizer to the plants' roots.

Potatoes can also just be put down on good soil/compost and a very thick seaweed mulch wrapped around them in a large protective circle. The potatoes are kept moist and protected from the sun and wind and as they grow, pile up more seaweed to protect the growing plants. You get nice clean spuds and a rich bed of soil for the next crop.

Let seaweed go dry and crisp then break it up and sprinkle on soil.

Make compost tea. Put a large handful of seaweed in a bucket of water (preferably rainwater) and leave to soak for a minimum 3 weeks and up to a year. Put a loose lid on.

On a larger scale, use a net onion bag or a porous sack to hold seaweed and put it in, or tie it to hang in a larger barrel or rubbish bin of water. After using the compost tea, you can reuse the seaweed several times with fresh water, then put the seaweed in the compost or use on your garden.

The above method to make seaweed tea means you will need to keep it away from the house due to the strong smell.

To make a more beneficial seaweed compost tea containing active organisms, and eliminate smells you will need an aerator to oxygenate it, or buy some Microbial Inoculant to generate microbial activity.

Both of these can be bought at garden centres or online. For simple, cheap oxygen machines try pet shops that sell fish tank equipment. Follow the instructions to set these systems up and you will produce supreme liquid seaweed fertilizer.

If the liquid is too dark, dilute the seaweed tea with water until it is normal tea coloured, then spray on plants. Seaweed compost tea can be applied to the roots of plants or foliar fed on leaves. It's not likely to hurt plants if too strong; it's more a waste of good nutrients that can't be utilized.

As well as supplying nutrients for leaves to absorb, seaweed tea sprayed or misted onto leaves, inhibits pests, viruses and fungal problems such as mildew and blight.

- See more at:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plant Picker-Uppers!

1 teaspoon Epson salt
1/3 C corn syrup
1 tsp baby shampoo
Warm water
Mix in.
Apply liberally, Stand back and admire
the amazing results.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Veggie Garden Check-Up

For a vegetable gardener, the livin’ gets a whole lot easier in the summertime. It’s not like the spring, when you’re rushing to get everything in the ground, or later in the fall, when you’re scrambling to harvest all your crops before frost lays them flat.

In fact, right now you’re probably ready to just lie back in your hammock and gaze up at the nice blue sky. Well, don’t get too comfortable! Life may move at a slower pace in August, but there’s still work to be done—and you need to be persistent about doing it. So play it safe: Print this list and keep it handy—that way, you won’t overlook anything when you get an attack of the dog-day lazies:

•Make sure your garden is getting plenty of water. A soaker hose is the most efficient way to deliver water all the way down to your plants’ roots.

•Check for sagging stems and tie them up before they break.

•Keep an eye out for signs of pests or diseases and tackle any problems right away.

•Pick vegetables as soon as they’re ripe. Different varieties of veggies are on different ripening schedules. So be on the lookout for mature color, gloss, and size. And if you don’t trust your eyes, take a bite. Your taste buds will know for sure!

•Serve up frequent drinks of my Compost Tea:

Pour 4 gallons of warm water into a large bucket. Scoop 1 gallon of fresh compost into a square of cotton or burlap, or a panty hose leg, and tie it closed. Put the super-sized “tea bag” in the water, cover the container, and let the mixture steep for seven days. Pour some of the finished tea into a watering can and sprinkle it around the base of your plants. Put the rest in a handheld sprayer bottle and spritz it onto the leaves.

•Inspect the mulch now and then, and add more as needed.

The best thing about growing your own vegetables is that you get to bring in the bounty all summer long. So keep a close eye on your plants and pick whatever you find that’s ripe. Most vegetables taste their best when they’re young and tender, and in the long run, you’ll get a bigger yield. That’s because the way a plant looks at it, once it produces its offspring (in this case, seed-bearing vegetables), its job is done. So if you leave overripe veggies on the vine, the plant will simply close up shop. But if you keep harvesting, the plant will keep producing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Very Cherry Tomatoes. Summer 2009. Next year I am growing a whole row along the back of my house..
Here is the tonic I used to keep em goen..Next year I will have the best crop on the block.. I've been treating my plants with this Tomato Booster Tonic, for the past 2 months..
Tomato Booster Tonic
1 tsp. of baby shampoo
1 gal. of water
Instructions: Mix these ingredients in a watering can. Generously soak the soil around your tomato plants in early summer, just as they show a bunck of yellow flowers, to stimulate fruit set.
Making my tomatoes Sweet..
For the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes in town, take a tip from Mary Poppins and me: I added a spoonful of sugar to my watering can and soaked the soil around my tomato plants. I also used sugar and water in a spray bottle and spritz my plants when they had yellow flowers. The sugar packed spray lured bees to my veggie plants and ensured ppollination.
Sweet Success Spray
1/2 cup of sugar
Instructions: Pour the sugar into 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Let mixture cool, dilute it with 1 gallon of water, and pour the solution into a hand-held sprayer. Then spritz your blooming platnts to the point of run-off. Before you know it, willing winged worders will fly to your rescue!