Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to make fertilizer for seedlings

First of all, let me start with how annoyed I am with this year's weather around here. I am typically not the one to complain about too much snow or cold temperatures but this year it's stretching just a bit too long for my own liking. Last snowstorm happened just a week ago and we still have the aftermath on the ground... There is no way any spring veggies are going in the ground any time soon...
Because of all that I have felt a bit uninspired doing anything garden related and I was staring at my seed starting supplies for few days till I actually dug into those seed pockets and yogurt cups. (I still have 3 more cups to fill and I don't feel like it). Now the first veggies have small sprouts and I am waiting for the second set of leaves to start fertilizing them. Let me fill you in on how I am going about it...

First of all, when you start seeing these guys in your pots - good for you! The first part of the battle is won! Your seeds actually germinated (well at least most of them) and you see those first seed leaves, which are actually food storage cells. As you see I planted 2 seeds per pot and that is for couple reasons - first of all, in case only one seed germinates (so for back up) and second if both germinate then I can transplant one of them into an empty pot (or in this case into the middle one where nothing came up)

You should start making your fertilizer at this time. I grow my plants organic and so it's important to me that I use only natural fertilizers. The best is the one you can make at home for yourself. We own chickens but if you don't, find someone who does and ask them for some chicken poop. (don't be shy, chicken owners are all game when it comes to stuff like that, we know what is good and we know exactly why you would like some ;-) 

Here is the recipe:

1 Large Mason Jar
1 cup of Chicken Poop (sorry I just call it what it is)

Put it all together and close it tight (especially if you have curious kids around you).

And now wait, till you see the second set of leaves come up. That will be time to fertilize. (the mixture should stand for at least 1 week, the best would be for up to 3 weeks) They should look something like this.

I then strain the mixture using cheese cloth and keep it the entire season in the same jar for occasional use. If you are ready to use it, DON'T POUR IT STRAIGHT!!! You have to dilute it with water. You will make something like compost tea. Some people use the ratio of 1 part of mixture x 1 part of water... I will start slow, I will do 1 part of mixture x 2 parts of water. And I will also only fertilize 1 pot first to make sure no plants will get burnt! If after one day all is good, go ahead and water the rest. If you burned your plants, no worries, dilute your mixture even more and repeat the step. 

You have to understand that each mixture will have different strength as you brew it using different amount of time, different kind of poop and have different environment conditions. So be careful at first and experiment... Good thing we planted extra seeds, right? (now you see my point?)

Never pour the fertilizer straight at the plant and never spray it on the plant leaves or stem. You want to water small amount of the fertilizer around the stem right by the soil. 
After the first feeding, watch your plants and use the fertilizer again only when you see that your plants stopped growing their usual pace.

Please, come back in few days for some tips on how to fix or avoid leggy seedlings!

I hope your garden will only bring you closer to your roots, nature, and that it will bring you peace in everyday life!

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