Tag Archives: fertiliser

Comfrey juice fertiliser not tea

There seem to be some misunderstanding, and not a little controversy, about how to make and use comfrey liquid fertiliser. A recent article in the Sunday press by a well known gardener stated that making comfrey tea was an easier option because it did not need to be diluted.

In his book “Comfrey past present and future” Lawrence Hills is quite clear about making comfrey juice i.e. concentrate not tea. He spent many years studying comfrey and even had a chemical analysis that showed comfrey concentrate had virtually the same constituency as Tomerite, see this page.

I am all for making things easier for newcomers to organic gardening but sometimes gardening celebs go too far. Comfrey tea is a very different thing to comfrey juice and will not have the same effects on plants.

Comfrey is an amazing plant and one that every organic gardener should grow. Making comfrey juice is a good way to get lots of free fertiliser, just remember to dilute 1:10 for tomatoes (that’s 1 part juice to 10 parts water) and 1:20 (that’s 1 part juice to 20 parts water) for everything else.

Urban Greenhouses Aim to Help Cities Combat Climate Change

Yet another massively expensive resource hungry project to grow food in cities. This time it’s in the form of a gigantic 100m (328ft) high glass dome with a spiral growing system. The estimated cost is €70 million.

The idea is that plants are introduced at the bottom of the spiral which rotates taking them to the top for harvesting. The rationale is that climate change will reduce the amount of productive agricultural land so we need new, high tech growing systems. Rising food prices are also said to make the system viable and the designers quote just three years to recover costs.

What they never mention is how the plants are fed. Once again I challenge them to say how the vast amounts of nutrients will be supplied to the hydroponic growing systems. They also are either ignorant of or ignore the looming world shortage of phosphate.

I am left with the feeling that they just don’t get it. Artificial fertiliser production uses a lot of energy and oil. Likewise glass, concrete and other construction materials. How will building such energy intensive greenhouses that rely on energy intensive plant food help to mitigate climate change? The answer is they will just make it worse.

When will there be a realisation that we need sensible, sustainable solutions to increase the World’s food supply? There are some superb projects around and I have said before that there are huge amounts of land and rooftops in cities that can be used for growing food right now with little or no capital investment.

We just do not need wacky and ridiculous ideas like this. What we do need is some honesty from governments and a common sense approach. As neither of these are likely to be forthcoming it will be left to ordinary people to fill in the gaps and grow their own food.

Read more – original article

Phosphate shortage

Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil

Compost better than fertlizer

An article on the Environmental News Network says that using compost in the garden is better that fertilizer.  Adding good quality compost improves soil fertility, soil structure and provides nutrients in a way that enhances the soil.

A good quality compost can improve the soil far more than other amendments by making it more porous, and balancing the nutrients so that plants can thrive over a longer time. In clay soils … adding compost can break up clay so that water can penetrate into the earth, while losing less moisture from run-off.

A healthy soil also allows beneficial insects, earthworms and other creatures to crawl around and work the soil, which opens it up and allows more air to flow through. In turn, this aeration allows the soil to hold more water. This means that people don’t need to water their lawns and gardens as often.

Good compost is the best soil amendment but some compost is better than others. Producing quality compost is down to how it is made. Just throwing your waste material on an open heap will produce compost eventually but it will be of doubtful and variable quality. Being more systematic by waiting until you have enough materials to fill your bin in one go, having the correct mix of green (N) and brown (C) materials and the correct amount of moisture, will ensure that the compost works quickly and heats up. See the Composting pages in the Resources section above.

Every gardener should make compost from garden waste. There really is excuse for the huge bonfires that are a regular feature of most allotments. So do NOT burn fallen leaves use them to make leaf mould, see this page, which is low in nutrients but a very good soil conditioner.

And do not forget to compost your kitchen waste, be proud to have a ‘slop bucket’!

Fertilisers reducing diversity

Scientists have now found why the use of artificial fertilisers is resulting in a loss of plant diversity. Evidently the application of fertiliser allows faster growing plants to dominate an area which effectively chokes out slower growing species.

A researcher at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Environmental Sciences said that there needs to be tighter control of the way fertiliser is used if we are avoid a continuing loss of diversity.

Maybe this also explains why there is higher level of biodiversity on organic farms? Could this also be related to the problems bees are having i.e. loss of native flowering plants?

Read the full article here.