This summer goes by so fast. We are about a month behind our typical summer growing season, which is short enough already. Though some of us might sample the priceless delights of sun-warmed cherry tomatoes, the sandwich-sized ones are still green. My normally prolific zucchini plants only have tiny zukes, and instead of picking dahlia flowers, I only weed the short plants. It might be tempting to add some extra chemical fertilizer to speed things up.
More is better, right? Well, apparently not when it comes to ice cream, beer and fertilizer. It’s a kind of laundry soap; The box says to add a certain amount and if the manufacturer could use you more they would. But they don’t because too much soap leaves residue on your clothes. Too much of it is also not a good idea when fertilizing – the soluble salts or minerals remain in the soil and alter the pH level, making soil nutrients more difficult for the plant to absorb. Weak roots and general plant stress can occur, making them more susceptible to disease.
There’s more: Rainwater and irrigation wash fertilizers and pesticides from our lawns and gardens into our underground freshwater aquifers, streams, lakes and the ocean. Our pets and other living creatures can be poisoned by drinking from stagnant water with fertilizer residues, or by swimming or drinking in a lake with a slimy blue-green algae bloom. Only the chemical companies win here.
The solution? Use a layer of organic compost once or twice a year. Compost improves soil structure, resulting in less water runoff, slowly releasing nutrients, and not disturbing natural soil organisms. Also use it as a mulch – it helps control weeds and keep plants cool. Making compost is almost fun. It’s an excellent use of your leftover vegetable peelings, leaves and grass. So precious that it is called “black gold”. (Don’t add meat, fat, bones or anything rodents like to eat).
Intense heat requires lots of water – especially for our hanging baskets and pots which, due to their small container size, may need to be watered once or even twice a day. Applying a mild organic fish fertilizer that dissolves in water adds nutrients that have been leached out by copious irrigation.
what else can we do First, we can garden responsibly and not add harmful chemicals or pesticides to our soil. Secondly, how about supporting the hardworking organic farmers in our community by buying their delicious vegetables and fruits they have worked so hard to produce? Whether the apples or potatoes have a few blemishes and aren’t as shiny and perfect as the produce from the supermarket – think of the chemical sprays you won’t use. If your beets have a little dirt on them, then it’s legit. Get creative – eat what’s in season and discover new flavors and textures.
A third idea is to avoid buying flowers that are flown in from other countries at a high environmental cost. Instead, stop at a local flower stand and buy uncolored flowers that change with the seasons. Breathe in the delightful scent of these beautiful flowers grown with love; Their rainbow of color and nectar feeds butterflies and hummingbirds.
Farmers are committed and courageous; They work hard seven days a week with no guarantee of success or income. Show that you care; Stop by and buy some local produce today. It’s a win/win situation.
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