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Tips for organic gardening
Published: March 22, 2009
Once you get growing, you’ll find you want to do a little more a little better – and with a little less time spent shelling out money at the local garden center.
There’s lots of free and/or very affordable help available.
Organic Vegetable Gardening, a guide at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH019 , was written by University of Florida horticulture professor emeritus James Stephens. It has easy-to-understand instructions and explanations tailored to Florida gardens, including fertilizing and how to create a compost pile.
UF’s Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH021 , isn’t specifically organic but has even more information, including a long list of vegetables and their Florida growing seasons. It recently underwent an extensive update.
Soil acidity – the pH – should be about 7.0. The Hernando County Extension Service can provide you with a mailing kit to mail a soil sample to the state extension service in Gainsville. A ph test costs $3. The county extension office is located at 19490 Oliver Street in Brooksville.
A more extensive soil fertility test for potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, pH and lime requirement costs $7 for vegetable gardens. Find forms and mailing instructions at soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu, click on Analysis.
Questions? Call the Extension office (352) 754-4433.
Fish Emulsion-Seaweed Fertilizer Recipe
The popular organic fertilizer is available commercially, but may be hard to find. This simple recipe is being passed around on the Internet. Warning: It may stink, and it may attract cats!
Fill a 5-gallon pot halfway with canned fish such as sardines, including the juice.
Add about half that amount of fresh or dried seaweed (available at Asian food markets or the beach). Rinse the fresh stuff to remove salt, and chop or soak it before adding to the pot.
Add sawdust – about half the amount of the seaweed
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons Epsom salt (added after the tea is ready)
Mix together everything but the Epsom salt. Cover with a screen to keep out bugs and continue to mix well daily. After one to two weeks, when the solution is foamy, add the Epsom salts. Use 1 liter of “tea” diluted in 4 to 5 liters of water and spray on leaves for occasional feeding.