Although I wholeheartedly agree and have witnessed some parts of our former lawn’s long-neglected dirt transform into dark brown, crumbly loam that feels so quintessentially earthy that I get giddy as it falls through my fingers, sometimes our more finicky charges need a little assistance.
The medium I use for germination is specially fortified to give seedlings a nutritional boost. Before they move outside, I then give them a shot of fish emulsion. At transplanting, the vegetables and herbs are treated to a handful of organic fertilizer from Espoma or Gardens Alive, preferably tailored to their unique needs.
The fruit trees aren’t left out — they get a dose of a “maintenance” formula to make sure any trace minerals crucial to fruit development are available. They also receive a shower of dormant oil early in the season to smother scale and other pests.
The blueberries benefit from sulfur that acidifies their mounds; any extra left in the bucket gets diluted and shared with our other low-pH lovers, the azaleas, hydrangeas and black currants.
A extra boost of calcium for the cole crops should finally address their persistently splindly stems and weak production.
When aphids attack, the soapy water comes out.
For fungal diseases such as fire blight, scab, cedar apple rust on the apple trees; powdery mildew on anything susceptible; and septoria leaf spot and blight on the tomatoes, we’ve tried Serenade and Gardens Alive copper soap. We’ve also replanted with more resistant varieties.
For all of our vegetative children this year, we’re adding a new spray of a plant protein called Harpin that was originally isolated by researchers at Cornell. It tricks plants into activating their own immune systems — making them resistant before the pest or disease attacks.
Called a “miracle powder” by some, it’s best applied when plants are in full leaf and growing. So I’m waiting for the rain to stop, the leaves to dry and the wind to still.
Then our plants will be really able to take care of themselves!