Soil Improvements

Nutritious annual green with Culinary and Medicinal Benefits

Commercial Fertilizers

Formula: Fertilizers contain a set of three numbers which informs the percentages of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, respectively. For example, with onion fertilizer, it is labeled 10-20-10. This indicates a higher amount of phosphate than of either nitrogen or potassium. 

Uses: It is very important that root crops receive a fertilizer that is high in phosphate (and to a lesser extent potassium). For most other plants, merely adding organic fertilizer is sufficient, but for root crops, if one does not add the aforementioned fertilizer, the gardener will end up with a lot of green growth but not much in the root. 

Note: One does not want to use a fertilizer high in nitrogen for root crops as those mainly aid the green, leafy growth.

Mulching

A form of gardening popularized by Ruth Stout is that of adding a layer of hay or mulch to the top of the soil and continuing to add organic matter and more hay and mulch or grass clippings over the course of the season. This accomplishes a few things. Firstly, it prevents weeds constantly growing up but creating a layer of hay or mulch. Secondly, it constantly adds new nutrients to prevent the soil becoming depleted. She did add cottonseed meal to supply nitrogen in the wintertime [3].

Banana Peels

Uses: With banana peels, one can insert them directly into the soil or (for instance for indoor plants) place them in a watering can in order to transmit their calcium and potassium.

Nutrient Value: The banana peels contain potassium and calcium. The potassium is important as it can help in the transport of hydration, nutrients, and carbohydrates. Without potassium, the plant can be stunted both in growth and in crop production [1]. The calcium is important for roles in supporting the cell walls of the plant and membranes and also as a cation balance to vacuole anions [2]. 

Egg shells

Egg shells ought to be placed directly in the soil or underneath the hay if one uses the mulching layer. They are a good source of calcium.

Remember: With succession planting and in really any soil that is heavily cultivated, the natural nutrients are being depleted at a rapid rate, so the organic matter is essential for keeping the soil serviceable.

History

Chickweed is native to Europe, including Great Britain and has been naturalized in North America. It came up in European folklore and magic to promote fidelity and attract love. Sailors used its vinegar to prevent scurvy. [1]

chickweed growing low res

References

1. “Potassium for Crop Production.” University of Minnesota Extension, University of Minnesota, https://extension.umn.edu/phosphorus-and-potassium/potassium-crop-production#:~:text=Role%20in%20plant%20growth,adenosine%20triphosphate%20(ATP)%20production.

2. White, Philip J. and Broadley, Martin R. “Calcium in Plants.” Annals of Botany, 01 October 2003, 487-511, https://academic.oup.com/aob/article/92/4/487/222903

3. Stout, Ruth and Clemence, Richard. The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book. Rodale Press, Inc. 1971, 119.

4. Talerico, Deanna. “Chickweed: How to Identify, Harvest, Dry and Use Stellaria Media.” Homestead and Chill, homesteadandchill.com/chickweed-identify-harvest-dry-use/

5. “Delicious Chickweed Recipes: Turn Wild Weeds into Meals,” Survive Ready, surviveready.com/chickweed-recipes/

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