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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Understanding the Six Macro-Nutrient Garden Fertilizers: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) & Sulfur (S)

Understanding the Six Macro-Nutrient Garden Fertilizers: 
Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), 
Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) & Sulfur (S)


Vegetable garden fertilizers are generally classed as either macro-nutrients or micro-nutrients. There are six major macro-nutrients although we tend to think there are only 3: Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. There are also Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur. They are not needed as much as N-P-K in the way of quantity but they have to be present in the soil for your vegetable plants to thrive.

6 Videos on 6 Macro-Nutrient Garden Fertilizers
I did a six video series on the major macro-nutrients to explain to you what they are, what they do, how they work, how you can add them to your soil and give you recommendations on how to best use them or manage them. My goal is to provide you with information and principles that you can adapt to your own garden needs. Gardens vary greatly around the world. There is no exact recipe for the perfect fertilized garden soil.

Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) are what we most often see on fertilizer packaging. They sometimes can be needed in larger quantity and can be lacking in heavily used soils. Remember compost and organic matter are the keys to keeping your garden healthy. I provide a lot information about N-P-K but also make recommendations and one of them is... that you don't over use them! Use less!





There are 3 more macro-nutrients. Although they are needed in less quantity, they are essential for your vegetable plants to fully thrive. There are a lot of easy ways to add these fertilizers to your garden. Epsom Salts which is magnesium sulfate will add  both Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S) to your garden. I explain what Ca-Mg-S do and how much of each you might really need in your vegetable gardens.








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Monday, November 24, 2014

How to Roast Garden Brussels Sprouts: Brine, Roast and Broil

How to Roast Garden Brussels Sprouts: 
Brine, Roast and Broil

I once disliked Brussels Sprouts until I started growing them in my vegetable garden. They are a hardy vegetable that can take frost and a freeze. Today 11/24, here in Maryland Zone 7, I picked a bunch of Sprouts after a week of freezing temperatures. They survived perfectly. They are sweeter with the cold and freeze! This is how I brine them, roast them and broil them.

Roasted Garden Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad
I ate my Brussels Sprouts with a kale salad that was also picked from my fall garden. Kale is another cool season crop that can take a frost. It does very well over-wintering here in Maryland Zone 7.

Brussels Sprouts Sitting in a Brine
Soak your Brussels Sprouts in a warm water salt brine for about 30 minutes. Let the salty water seep into the center of the sprouts. You can add garlic powder if you want. You can also make it an apple juice brine if you want to add some sweetness. Season the brine how you wish.

30 Minutes in a Warm Water Salt Brine
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil and a Pyrex Baking Dish
Put them in a Pyrex or other type of baking dish with a size that mostly lets them lay flat. Cover them with a nice thin line of olive oil making sure your touch each one. Lightly salt and pepper them to your taste.  Roast them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Check them 15 minutes in and mix them around and roll them over.

Brussels Sprouts Roasted at 400 F for 30 Minutes
They are going to steam a little bit from the brine. That will soften them up and they will begin to caramelize slightly as they sit roasting. Make sure you put the dish in the middle of the oven.

Brussels Sprouts Broiled for 2-3 Minutes then Plated
After 30 minutes, mix them up again and broil them for about 2-3 minutes. Watch them carefully each minute as ovens tend to broil differently. You don't want them to burn, just caramelize a bit more. Stir them one more time and broil them again for another 2-3 minutes.

Keep an Eye on the Broiling.... Delicious!

ENJOY!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Effectively Use Eggshells to Make a Vegetable Garden Slug/Snail Barrier

How to Effectively Use Eggshells to Make 
A Vegetable Garden Slug/Snail Barrier


Eggshells can be effective barriers that will stop snails and slugs from getting to your vegetable garden plants. However, you have to build the right barrier with eggshells crushed to the right size.

The sharp edges of the eggshells irritate the skin of the pests. The barrier has to be wide enough to stop a slug from stretching over it and you have to put enough eggshells down so the snails can't work their way through it.

Making a Garden Snail/Slug Eggshell Barrier

This video shows you the general size to crush the eggshells and explains the general principle for making the barrier. Remember your barrier has to maintain itself even after a heavy rain. If your eggshell particles are two small they will be washed into the soil. If they are two big, the snails and slugs will be able to go over them with out getting deterred.





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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Understanding Garden Nitrogen: Products, Organic vs. Synthetic, Use and Strategies

Understanding Garden Nitrogen: Products, Organic vs. Synthetic, Use and Strategies


Nitrogen is a macro-nutrient which means it is a main element all plants need to grow. Without it, you can't really have a thriving garden. The earth's atmosphere is made up of nearly 80% nitrogen but plants can't use nitrogen in that form. It must be fixed or transformed into a form the plants can absorb and use. Nitrogen can be changed biologically or chemically. Biological forms are often called organic nitrogen. Chemically processed nitrogen is often called synthetic. Ammonia is the basis for chemical fertilizers.

Understanding Nitrogen Fertilizer - TRG 2014

I made this video to help you understand the different forms of nitrogen available for your garden. I use both organic and synthetic forms of fertilizers. I also use compost and nitrogen fixing legumes like beans, red clover and peas. I believe is in using garden fertilizers in and educated and purposeful way. My recommendation is you use less than is suggest. I feel we are all guided to over fertilize when it really isn't needed.

Plants can't tell the difference between the different forms of nitrogen. The main difference between synthetic and organic fertilizers is that synthetics do nothing for soil structure or the micro-organisms in the soil. Organic fertilizers generally feed your plants and the life in your soil. This video shows you a lot about what else.... nitrogen fertilizer.





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Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to Plant Garlic in the Fall: How, When and Why

How to Plant Garlic in the Fall: How, When and Why


My method for planting garlic is for gardeners in areas that get freezing winters. If you don't get freezing nights, snow and frozen ground... garlic bulbs are often pushed into the garden bed  surface, about an inch deep and covered with some mulch.

I am in Maryland Zone 7 and my beds freeze in the winter. Garlic should be planted 3-4 inches deep depending on how much cold you get. The video will show you how I set up the soil and plant the garlic cloves, broken from the bulbs. I will use diffenernt fertilizers as available. I often use bone meal for phosphorous, as it helps with bulb growth, and blood meal for nitrogen. The key to nice size garlic bulbs is very loose soil and fall planting.


Garlic Sprouts - The Rusted Garden 2014

You plant them in the fall for two reasons. The garlic will recognize the winter and come spring will set off to form a bulb. Planting them in the fall also allows the clove to sprout a tip and develop a really strong root system. When you plant the clove you want to make sure you have some slow release fertilizer mixed into the planting area. Don't worry if your garlic gets a few inches of green growth that gets beat up before the cold arrives. It won't hurt it.


Plant Garlic in the Fall before the Freeze Comes

I plant my garlic about 4 inches deep in my zone. I don't mulch it. You can plant it in late September through October. If you want to push it, early November is okay. The key is that you want about 4 inches of a barrier between the clove you plant and freeze. You could do a 4 inch depth in the soil or 2 inches in the soil and 2 inches of mulch. It is really up to you. You do not need to be exact.

I use garlic from the grocery store. A lot of people say you shouldn't as you have a risk for diseases. I haven't had issues. You can buy it from catalogs and online. You can go to specialty gourmet stores for different varieties that are meant to be eaten... but I plant them.





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Welcome Gardeners!