So there's good news and bad news. The good news is that some of the little seedlings are growing a little too well. Those would be Borage, Cuke and Nasturtium. I took off the lid of the greenhouse for a few days until today, when I finally got around to repotting them. Borage plants are enjoying their permanent home while Cukes, Tomatoes and Peppers got potted into bigger, but temporary pots. While the spring weather is here and the snow has melted, plenty more warmer days will be needed before the little ones can brave the big outdoors.
Nasturtiums were by far the fastest growing plants, all 12 of them! I potted 3 per hanging basket and can't wait to see these lovelies trailing down :) Last year I enjoyed their leaves and some of their flowers for so many days that I got a little bit spoiled because I sure missed them when they were gone! About a dozen Radish plants also settled into their cozy home today: a white dish pan for doing dishes that I drilled in some holes for drainage. I must be one of the few people who still hand washes dishes these days ;)
The bad news is that I need compost. Having a balcony garden, I of course had potting soil from last year, but each year the soil needs to be refreshed. Just like with a garden where you add compost each year, so the same with planters: you want to use either 50% old potting soil with 50% new potting soil OR use 2/3 old potting soil with 1/3 part compost. I think I've used as much as 1/2 compost and 1/2 potting soil in the past and the plants fared just great. The soil is, after all, a bit sterile compared to the garden; there may be some bugs that come to visit, but nowhere near as many as in a garden, and the soil microbiome is not the same at all. Indeed, to enrich the soil, you can add worm castings and use compost tea for fertilizer. Fish oil and seaweed fertilizers are also other good choices.
When it comes to compost tea, I don't let my tea ferment, but I do add some of my medicinal herbs diluted with water come watering time. What that means is, I use some leftover infusion and dilute with water, about 1/4 cup infusion to 4 cups water. The herbal infusions should be those that are high in minerals, such as Comfrey and Nettle. I have added various other mild herbals teas, such as Mint and Chamomile, but with less success. I've also used liquid chlorophyll (the kind they sell in health food stores) diluted with water, and even used liquid Concentrace minerals.
While some plants enjoy the potassium and calcium from crushed egg shells like Tomatoes, others benefit from the magnesium and sulfur from Epsom salt, such as Tomatoes, Peppers and Roses. Simply mix 1 TBsp salt per gallon of water and use. Drying egg shells couldn't be easier: rinse any gooey part off, then crush slightly and lay out to dry on a solid sheet in the dehydrator (or spread out on newspaper). No need to turn it on, you can let the bits air dry. Once dried, crush to a powder in a high speed blender. Like coffee grounds, I sprinkle some egg powder around the plants on the soil, then add some water. And yes, spent coffee grounds are another cheap, DIY fertilizer. They add nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous to the soil, so Tomatoes, Corn, Spinach, Roses and acid soil lovin' Blueberries wouldn't mind at all. Coffee grounds have been shown to deter garden critters such as rabbits and squirrels, but I wouldn't rely solely on this method.
In fact, last year I doused the top of the soil with Cayenne pepper powder to deter the squirrels. I found that it worked on the plants that had a good amount added, but not on the plants that I had added just a bit. This year I'm thinking to add some garlic juice (yes, you can juice garlic) or onion juice and dilute with water, and to cover the top of the planters with a gardening plastic that still allows for air circulation and sunlight to come in. Keep you posted on my progress, because there are quite a few members of squirrels that like to peruse my pots in the spring, and not just for their viewing pleasure ;)
Bring it on, sunshine, because the plants are getting ready for ya over here :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: