Testing…Testing…One, Two, Three…Four!

Testing…Testing…One, Two, Three…Four!

Without me, the garden has continued to do it’s thing. I’ve been stuck in the house with my stupid back this last week, but the garden has managed without me. I’ve been sending Jonathan out to do some things, move the sprinklers, fix the trellis, check things over, but I’m more than ready to see everything for myself.

Today I can walk unassisted and I’ve been up for three hours without pain medication, so I’m thinking I’ll be outside for at least a little while later on. Ryan threatened me before he went to work. “If I even see you with a hoe in your hands, I’m telling dad.” He needn’t have bothered. The pain this last week was sufficient a lesson, the “real” work will be done by the boys from now on.

So, what am I going to do? Thanks for asking. Today is testing day. I have a bunch of things that will be ready in the next little bit to go from their juvenile containers to the garden. I’m making sure their new beds are ready for them with the nutrients and pH conditions they’ll need.

This is the kit before testing.

First up is the Ground Cherry bed. I have eight Ground Cherry plants and eight Wonderberry plants that will go in the front bed where the cilantro and basil was last year. The seedlings are hardened off and ready to explode their current containers, so I’m testing their bed first.

The tests are standard, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash (N, P and K for short) and then, of course a pH test to make sure we’re in the 6.0-6.8 range that maters love. Testing kits are pretty standard and really inexpensive. I think I paid about $2.85 for the set of four tests.

Testing dirt.

The Parsnip and Jonathan are actually conducting the tests. Jonathan loves all things scientific and the test kits look very sciency. There’s that…and the print on the package is too small for me to see without my glasses and a strong light source, so…my advice? Don’t get old.

When they give me the results, I’ll make whatever amendments I need to to keep my little guys happy. Ground Cherry and Wonderberry are grown exactly like tomatoes. I’ll be using the fence with them, just as I do the tomatoes.

You know by now, I’m not a fan of cages. I realize I am securely in the minority on this. I’m okay with that. It’s not the only thing I’m in the minority on, good gravy, I homeschool my kids. A tomato cage is hardly a blip on the “she’s weird” scale when you homeschool kids. So berry fences will go up then I’ll prepare the holes.

I am interested in knowing more about the spiral system. If any of you use it, let me know how you like it. It’s this one.

If any of you use this, let me know what you think. I've been contemplating it lately,

Holes are pretty straightforward with a couple of exceptions. I line the hole with hair (I know, I use hair for a gaziilion things in my garden) coffee grounds and pulverized egg shells. I also use vacuum cleaner fluff. My only caution on vacuum cleaner fluff is to avoid using those yummy smelling powders on your carpet if you’re going to be using your fluff in the garden. Chemicals unwanted.

I also use my dryer lint for the same purpose. Trace elements from skin cells, hair and everything else that makes dryer fluff, fluffy are greedily taken in by your thriving tomato, or in this case, Ground Cherry and Wonderberry plants.

In my wheelbarrow I mix two large coffee cans of well matured compost, one cup of wood ash, 24 eggshells (dried and pulverized in the processor) five or so days of used coffee grounds, one cup of bone meal, 1/2 cup pulverized kelp. I mix this very well.

I make my hole, add my hair or dryer fluff add 1 cup of my plant food mix, put another small layer of hair or a small amount of shredded newspaper then add my plant. I like to put that little layer of hair or newspaper to keep the plant food mix from directly touching the roots until they’re settled and established. It’s like your kids friends. You help them choose “good” friends, but you still have to be careful about how much influence they have. There’s such thing as too much of a good thing.

After one month in the ground, I side dress with a mix of aged compost and the food mix. I use water soluble kelp every 1 1/2 to two weeks and I use worm tea when the mood strikes me.

These are the things that work for me. I hope I’ve said something that will help you. Go forth and plant! = )

Paisley Plant Food Mix (dry)

  • 2lbs mature compost (2 large Folger’s cans)
  • 1 cup wood ash
  • 24 pulverized eggshells
  • 3 cups used, dried, coffee grounds
  • 1 cup bone meal
  • 1/2 pulverized kelp
  • Hair from your brushes, or cuttings
  • dryer lint
  • vacuum fluff

Mix all this up. Store in dry airtight containers until you need it. I use 1lb coffee cans to store my plant food between feedings.

Have a paisley Monday!~KeriAnne


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