Fertilizer is the key

Make your own fertilizer using a mixture of ingredients such as egg shells

  • May. 24, 2017 7:30 a.m.

Jocelyne Sewell

Morning Star Columnist

All of my tomatoes are in the ground. The ones with the taller stems, I snipped the bottom leaves and buried them sideways. This permits the stems to root along the part that is buried and makes for a stronger plant. Don’t try to bend the plant to go up, as it will within a few days.

In the hole I added one tablespoon each of organic fertilizer, epsom salts and crushed eggshells. My organic fertilizer consists of a mixture of bone meal, greensand, Glacial Rock Dust, all purpose Gaia 4-4-4 and some dried coffee grounds. I work by volume and this mix gives me about 9N-12P-9K which stands for N: nitrogen, P: phosphorous and K: potassium or potash. These are the three numbers that you see on boxes of fertilizer. I also use a handful of finished compost and mulch with more compost and grass clippings to keep the soil from drying.

Nitrogen is used by plants for lots of leaf growth and good green colour. You can use more nitrogen if you are growing lettuce, for example. If you are using too much of it for your tomato plants, you will have lots of beautiful green plants but you will be short on tomatoes. Phosphorous is used to help form new roots, make seeds, fruits and flowers. It’s also used by plants to help fight disease. Potassium helps plants make strong stems and keep growing fast. It’s also used to help fight disease. I like using organic fertilizer because I don’t have to worry about hurting the plants if I use too much, the only drawback would be wasting money on the short run but eventually, it will be used by plants. I do not broadcast my fertilizer over my beds but only put it where needed as I plant.

Only one week left in May and now is the time to think about the big fundraiser for the People Place, the popular Garden Tour, which is coming soon. With the purchase of a ticket, you support the 19 social service agencies housed in People Place providing support to people in the North Okanagan. This year this popular event will be June 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The tickets are still $15 and are available at Blue Mountain Nursery in Armstrong, Briteland, Coldstream Willows Nursery, Swan Lake Nurseryland and the People Place. The gardens are located in various sites in the Vernon area, and a map is included with the ticket. You are free to tour the gardens in any order you wish during the open hours.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.

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