organic fertilisers

I must admit I’m finding this all a little intimidating. All the numbers and ratios and scientific symbols are a little off-putting, and in my weaker moments I reckon it would be so much easier to just let the landscaping company get on with it and put whatever they want on the lawn – I’d never be any the wiser.

 

But I feel quite strongly about wanting a natural garden. Firstly, my one-year-old still eats dirt occasionally, and I don’t want him ingesting chemicals if at all possible. Secondly, I really want to get the herb and veggie garden going again, so I don’t want chemicals to be absorbed through the soil into the food my family’s going to eat.

 

There are other benefits to going organic. Organic fertilizers supply major, macro and micro nutrients to the soil, whilst synthetic fertilizers usually supply only a limited range of major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium). Organic fertilizers are therefore far more effective at stimulating soil life, ensuring plants that are well nourished by a healthy eco-system.

 

Beyond your garden wall, the ecological implications continue. Conventional fertilizers are often by-products of the petrochemical industries, so those are the companies you’re supporting when you buy their products. Natural fertilizers create employment for thousands of local people in companies whose values might echo your own (since you’re reading an eco-blog!).

 

I located a company called Talborne Organics and after much discussion of their wide range of products we’ve agreed to treat both my lawn and beds with Vita-Veg 6:3:4 (16) at an application rate of 40gms/m2. (I’m not sure if that last sentence is written in English, but my landscaper has assured me it makes sense.)

 

It’s been ordered and should be applied next week.

 

For those who’d be interested in buying organic fertilizers, you can contact Talborne via their website (click on the logo below). Their nursery range is also available at Builders Express outlets, Pick & Pay Main stores, as well as Macro and some main nurseries.

 

Garden: Before…

Okay, time to take this garden by the balls!

Here’s a picture of what I’ve got to work with:

The first step is to give the soil a treatment so new things can grow. My dear, long-suffering and ever-patient landscaper is kind enough to indulge my horticultural idiosyncracies, including my insistence on practical (though not aesthetically pleasing) plants like herbs and vegetables, and my disinclination towards conventional (read: chemical) products.

So he’s given me some homework – to source organic equivalents of his fertilizer, compost and “5:1:5″.

I think I did biology sometime in early high school. I remember zilch. This is gonna be interesting.

Anyone got any tips/sources?

God’s take on gardening

This, doing the rounds on chain-mail, was too good not to share! Have a giggle to start your day :-)

 

 

God said: ”Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets,  milkweeds  and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.”

St. FRANCIS:
It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:
Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD:
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.

GOD:
They cut it? Do they then bale it as hay?

ST. FRANCIS:

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD:
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:
Yes, Sir.

GOD:
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:

You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:
And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:
Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE:

‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

GOD:
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis

grubby kids are happy kids

Loving Kids in the Garden – a great summary of some of the benefits of getting our kids (and ourselves) up off the couch and into the ‘real’ world of dirt and nature.

 

Two-year-old Ariel is not quite ready to be let loose with a trowel, but just being there while Dear Old John (WHAT would we do without him??) plants has got to be educational. Ari likes to “help”, too. He digs little holes alongside, and sticks bits of twig and leaves into them. Hasn’t quite got the hang of filling in the holes yet, but what can you do. All in good time.

 

I get this quirky sense of pride when I see my child pottering in the dirt. Call me crazy (no, actually, don’t) but I think kids are meant to be dirty. I’m not talking smelly and covered with flies here, but good old grubby. Dirt under fingernails and mud on their shorts sort of grubby. Long day in the garden sort of grubby. Wipe-your-feet-before-you-come-in-the-house sort of grubby. They always seem happier that way, and mess is usually a sign that there’s learning going on. It means they’re exploring, experimenting, interacting.

 

And it makes their soft little cheeks, rosey from scrubbing at bedtime, even sweeter for kissing!

party countdown: 6 days to go!

Unfortunately I have nothing party-productive to report today. I’ve ordered the cake and sarmies, made the cookies, and sent out the sms-invites. I still need to make some decorations and fill the goodie bags.

But the weather was playing funny games today. When it was raining I was trying to keep my four-month-old quiet and my oh-so-very-nearly-two-year-old from scaling the TV cabinet, and when the sun decided to make a cameo, it was too irresistable not to go and play outside.

Our cherry tomatoes have just started ripening and Ari and I had a field day with sound effects as they “pick”ed off the branch and “pop”ed into the bucket! Even Shai loved the sounds and being outside in the soft sun.

Must get onto party prep tomorrow…

 

(and yes, for anyone who’s wondering, he insisted on wearing his pajamas today…)