Rachel H Kay Blog

Year Five, June Spring Garden Update

It’s now June and temperatures are getting up into the 90’s. Some days we’ve had 98 degree weather. The sun feels a lot more intense this year, compared to other years. I’ve begun shading my garden beds in the afternoon, to give my plants a bit of relief from the sun's heat. Too much heat and plants won’t fruit, and my tomatoes are already having trouble fruiting.

Is Core Gardening Working?

So far I’ve been able to get away with watering my garden beds once a week. I haven’t noticed any signs of my plants not getting watered enough, and when I check the soil its damp, so that's a good sign. I’m also using the straw as a mulch to help hold in moisture, compared to the wood chip mulch I’ve used previously. I bought straw from Tractor Supply Company, it was the best deal I could find, even better than Walmart, where you would have shipping charges on top of the cost, making it more expensive. If you have a Tractor Supply Company near you then look for EZ-Straw Straw Seeding Mulch 2.5 cu. ft., you can buy it online and pick it up in store or just walk into a store and purchase it. I chose the latter, and had no trouble finding it.

As we move more into June, and get into July, I know temperatures are going to continue to rise, but so far my plants are doing well and not under watered. I do have to water my plant pots every two or three days, but that's to be expected. With the heat and humidity plant pots will dry out pretty fast.

As you can see from the image above my plants look healthy and are growing nicely. My tomatoes are getting really tall, and my hyssop has grown back nicely. My two bell pepper plants are still a bit small, but they will get there. I’ve already got a small red bell pepper growing. Ignore the mess below my garden bed. It’s like pulling teeth to try and get my son to edge around those garden beds. He’s a bit behind on getting it done. Between the rain we’ve had on and off, and the waterings I’ve done, the weeds and grass around those beds grows rather quickly.

Homemade Plant Fertilizer

Since my tomato plants are not fruiting, just dropping blossoms due to the heat, I’m thinking about making my own plant fertilizer this year. From what I’ve read they may need a bit more help getting the nutrients they need to stop dropping blossoms. Phosphorus and potassium levels need to be maintained for the plants overall functions, and for flower and fruit production. But as always I need budget friendly options, and I don’t want to use bone meal, I prefer more vegan alternatives. The problem is that some of these alternatives can also be a bit pricey, so I’m going to have to try a few different things out and see how it goes.

The hardest part is finding a phosphorus alternative that isn’t too pricey. That's usually what the bone meal is for.

Vinegar Fertilizer

I’m going to try a vinegar fertilizer for my acid loving plants, such as my blueberries and strawberries, by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water. This is supposed to be repeated every three months.

Fish Tank Fertilizer

The next time I clean out one of my fish tanks, instead of dumping the dirty fish tank water down the drain I can keep it and water my plants with it. Fish tank water contains nitrogen and other nutrients plants require, so I’m definitely going to do this from now on.

Grass Fertilizer

I also just read about using grass clippings for fertilizer. Not clippings from lawns that are chemically treated though. Apparently grass fertilizer is high in nitrogen, oxygen, and wait for it, phosphorus. Yay, that’s the one thing I’m having issues supplying in a fertilizer because both the plant based and animal based alternatives are out of my budget at the moment. So the next time my younger son mows someones yard, I’m going to tell him to save the grass clippings for me.

If you want to give this a try you will need a five gallon bucket. Fill it two thirds full with grass clippings. Fill the bucket with water a few inches from the top. Let it sit and steep at room temperature for three days, stirring it once a day. Then, strain the liquid, which will be the “tea” or fertilizer, dilute it with equal parts of water, and use it to fertilize the soil. I keep a few gallon milk jugs for watering plants, so I’ll just use one of those to strain the liquid into, and make sure the amount of liquid is equal to the amount of water I use, so half a gallon of liquid and half a gallon of water.

Compost Tea

If you compost then you can make your own fertilizer from your compost bin. Just fill a five gallon bucket a third of the way full with the compost soil, which will be the finished compost, and what you want to use. Then fill the bucket with water a few inches below the top. Let it steep for three to four days, stirring it as often as you can. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, or any porous fabric into another bucket. Ad the remaining compost to your garden or back into your compost bin. Dilute the remaining liquid with water using a 10:1 ratio of water to tea. So it should look like weak iced tea. Then water the soil around your plants, or you can use it as a foliar spray and spray the leaves.

I’m still looking into other alternatives, but for now these will be a good start. I also have some Miracle Grow fertilizer that’s for vegetables already on hand, which I’ve started using until I can get these options started, since it's good to start fertilizing once you see flowers bloom, which are usually the male flowers, and I want the females to begin blooming.

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About Me

Hi there. I'm Rachel Kay, a Web Developer, Illustrator, & Designer, whose hobby is to be creative and artistic, while freelancing as a Web Developer building creative, modern websites.

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