Summer is finally here! Put your rain gear and boots back in the garage and find your straw hat and sunscreen.
Although my perennial gardens have done very well so have most berries and greens, I have noticed unusual yellowing of leaves on blueberries, some vegetables, even roses. My theory is that the torrential rains have washed out a lot of the nutrients plants need to thrive, and most certainly any fertilizer I may have introduced before roots had a chance to use them. We only have a few months to grow vegetables; giving your garden the nutrients it needs will keep it healthy and growing beautifully.
Let’s talk fertilizers: you can buy an already made organic ‘all around’ fertilizer at Portland Nursery, or one of the small urban farm stores sprouting all over town.
My favorite is Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply which recently found a new home at 2625 SE Schiller street, a few blocks South of Holgate and 26th. Very convenient if you live South of SE Powell Blvd. I bought a couple bales of straw, a few veggie, and herb starts, bags of steer manure. I also inquired about their homemade concentrate fish fertilizer which they sell by the gallon for under 10 dollars. The place has a country feel especially on the weekend when 26th street, being a warehouse area, is quite empty. Naomi’s is a family business so bring your kids and reserve extra time; the register line is a bit slow. But you will get real help from the owners who, have grown/used a lot of what they sell, raise chicken and goats, will load up your car, and are super friendly. Although small, their prices are competitive with other stores in town and you won’t have to sift through a mountain of stuff to get to a handy tool, or a great book about gardening.
Mix a complete fertilizer yourself. Here is Steve Solomon’s recipe. Steve owned Territorial seeds, and wrote the best book on gardening in our region: Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.
- 4 parts seed meal (cottonseed, or canola meal are usually available in our region)
- 1/2 part lime (garden lime or a mix of garden and dolomite)
- 1/2 part phosphate rock or bone meal (steamed or raw)
- 1/2 part kelp (any kind of seaweed from anywhere)
I have mixed this recipe and used it for over a decade. If you want a small amount, go to Portland Nursery where they have bulk in bins, then mix at home. If you want to make a large quantity–it will save for years (if the mice don’t find it…)– go to Concentrate Inc and buy 20/50lb bags measure and mix in a wheelbarrow at home and store in garbage cans with secure lids. Use a dust mask, protective glasses and gloves every time–I do. I suggest choosing the phosphate over bone meal if dogs come in the garden, or you will have a digging party. You can use a small bucket to measure your parts or a coffee can for smaller amounts. The mix calls for ‘parts’ NOT lbs.
Spread the powder around all your plants and give them a good watering. Repeat every two weeks for veggies, and every month for shrubs berries roses. For a quick picker-upper I spray liquid fish on the leaves on the ground etc then I leave for the weekend cause it stinks! I don’t really go away but know to not schedule a party for a few days.
See you out back…
Tip of the day: bring a liter of water to drink for every hour you are in the garden. Once engrossed in your task you won’t want to go back in the house. It can really take the wind out of you after a few hours in the heat.