Natural Fertilizers for Your Plants

Welcome back! Brrrr… it’s been a chilly day around here with subzero temperatures making my toes cramp up, but my thoughts have been all about spring! Our little seedling garden is continuing to sprout — and the corn is creeping taller (we may have planted these a bit too early! oops!) Alas, we continue to learn by trial and error… but, hey, who says there are rules in the garden, right? Light, water, seeds and soil…that’s all you need, right?

Speaking of soil, I am excited to say that I have added another jar to the counter in the kitchen. No, not containing soil, but a new science experiment to help the soil! My poor hubby, I have mason jars scattered across the counter tops filled with various concoctions that have peaked my interest… my sour dough starter (affectionally known as Herman), orange peels soaking for homemade cleaner, snacks, my S.C.O.B.Y hotel for kombucha and now… banana peels! Yup, a browning, yellow mess has graced the counter in hopes of becoming a nutrient rich fertilizer for our seedlings! The bananas contain potassium, which is not only good for us, but also good for your plants! Here are a few other “natural” fertilizers I found on the great internet:

  • Eggshells: cleaned and dried, these babies add calcium and phosphorus to the soil, as well as reduce the amount of acidity in your pots. (Another reason to have chickens… just sayin’)
  • Coffee Grounds: if you want acidity in your soil, then this additive is the ticket! Combine your empty filter with the dirt, and there ya go! African violets, Christmas cacti and jade plants like the soil with a bit of bite, so give them some java joe!
  • Green Tea: similar to coffee grounds and for the tea toters amoung you, you can use the leftover liquid or the tea leaves themselves to enrich your dirt
  • Molasses: blackstrap molasses is high in calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. It also contains sulfur and a host of micronutrients. Using molasses as fertilizer provides plants with a quick source of energy and encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Besides, it smells yummy.
  • Fish Tank Water: this is a great one for us (read why, here) What better way to spread the love around while keeping your tank sparkly clean too? Fish poop has too much nitrogen to be good for fish…but your plants will thrive, apparently! Gotta try this one. “Worm tea” has similarities, using the castings of worms as a base for your water mix, but I don’t have a worm bin, and I don’t think a jar of that on my counter would be a welcome sight!
Another jar, added to the counter!

And the final one I found was salt. Now, not just any salt works, in fact, table salt will dry up your plants and cause some root issues, so no sodium chloride… but the salt base in epsom salts and true sea salt will add sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and trace amounts of many other minerals to your dirt. Used correctly, sea salt is beneficial to plants, providing them with these nutritional elements. Evidently, sea salt has been used for centuries as a natural fertilizer, especially in Palestine.

An interesting muse, if we consider our parable of the sower that we looked at last week, and the verses about salt in the gospels (Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, and Luke 14:34–35). Jesus may have been reffering to the agricultural use of salt that was sprinkled on the soil, as an additive. I found an interesting tidbit about the sower’s seeds that fell on the hardened soil… apparently beaten down paths were common in the fields of the ancient farms… a literal path or trail that cut through the middle of a field. Fertilizer salt would have also been strewn here … and trampled down under foot! No use to the farmer there! Not only did the sown seeds not flourish along the path, but the fertilizer was trampled on too.

So there ya go, my beloveds! Your tidbit of information for this week… salt and light… and maybe some rotten banana peels or worm poop mixed in… makes for great growth. Be blessed, be brave, and be back next week to see what we muse about then!

Sow and See

A week ago, we had subzero temperatures here in Canada. Two days ago, a snowstorm of winter proportions hit us with full force. I curse the all season tires we have on the car and it’s poor performance on slick roads! Yet — We’ve dug ourselves out and declared war on the white stuff. Teehee, you wanna know what we did while the rest of our world hid in the shadows of a few more weeks of winter? We planted seeds for spring!

Yup, the Sunblaster grow light is up and running and the basement has turned into our little mini greenhouse. We are still beginner gardeners, here, but I’m following in the footsteps of a few others who seem to have started things (and seem to know what they are doing). I don’t know if we are doing things right; I really didn’t research seedlings or time zones or whatever zones, nor have I planned what may need to be started early or late or … well, let’s just say I went on a whim and threw some seeds in some dirt and stuck them under a bright light with a well watered mat.

A few weeks back we heard a good sermon on the passage in Mark 4 about the parable of the Sower who sowed some seeds. Which seemed perfect to chat about since we have started the little urban garden in our basement recently. We were reminded that the farmer just scattered the seeds aimlessly… or so it seemed. Does it seem illogical to you that nowadays we plant neat little rows of crops and the farmer of old just threw seed willy-nilly so that it lands in all different types of soil? Why waste the seeds on ground that won’t produce harvest? Upon further research, I discovered that that was, indeed, the way the sowers sowed back then! So much for planning!

Which brings me back to our little grow light and our early seeding experiment. We have simply planted and will see what happens. Which is exactly what God wants us to do with the gospel! We have no idea who God’s story will hit and when … it is simply our job to sow the seed. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says:

“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”

ESV

As many of you know, my word for the year is “brave” (you can read about it here)… and I am trying to be brave about sharing my faith, even in subtle ways here and there… because I will never know what kind of impact I may have. Will the seed grow and be strong? Or will it be just the beginning of a spark and others will fan the flame? Have I made an impact in someone else’s life by reflecting God’s love when they needed it most? These are the questions I must ask myself often.

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So, what do you think, my beloved readers and followers? Would you be interested in a deeper study about the parable of the sower? Should we look at it for a few more weeks? Shall we see where the “growth” may take us? Leave me a comment below if you are interested in studying this with us (or any topic you might like!) This week our corn has been the first to pop it’s head out of our indoor trays. Last year, our corn didn’t grow or flourish at all… could this be the start of a good crop this year? We can’t know for sure… but we are remembering that we just need to sow and see!

Christmas Oranges

It was almost 25 years ago that my hubby and I sat in a little hotel restaurant in Morocco debating the pros and cons of the Quebec referendum with the waiter in our limited French. We had finished the most delightful meal infused with the fragrances of Moroccan spices as “dessert” was brought to our table. No, not cake or pie, not even date pudding, which I could have expected in Northern Africa, but about four large orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon. Unusual choice, I thought, but yummy nonetheless. As we spent the next few days swimming in the ocean (to which the locals mocked… it was winter in February after all!) I did notice the beach fronts were lined with cartons of clementines and citrus… an “in season” fruit for this part of the world.

Photo Credit: The Grit and Polish Blog

I’ve been thinking about oranges lately… not because I need the vitamin C, nor because I particularly like the flavour of oranges, but because I have been sucked in to the Pinterest and Instagram displays of the DIY/low waste/oh-so-country-pretty garlands of dried citrus and evergreen that seem to be popping up on my feeds these days. I wanna try them, but haven’t yet gathered enough energy for the hours of slicing, oven drying and bead stringing needed… not to mention I think I need more oranges. And some foraging in the woods for greenery. And time away from the kids, or maybe they would help, or maybe glue sticks are needed, or… hmmn. Maybe I won’t be trying it. The dog will probably eat them anyway. But I like them. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

So, I did a little digging about the significance of citrus at Christmastime. Here’s some of the things I found ( via https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/why-we-should-bring-back-tradition-christmas-orange-180971101/). Way back in the 19th century the idea of placing an orange in the bottom of your Christmas stocking may have been an ode to the legend of the three balls (or bags or bars or coins) of gold that the Bishop of Myra, the real Saint Nicholas, gave to three poor maidens to use as dowries. Apparently they were saved from impoverishment and a life of misery by the gifting of 3 round bags of gold … later replaced by golden fruit. At the time, oranges were considered an exotic luxury — but not quite equal to gold, I suppose.

As the Victorian era came along and Christmas traditions moved forward, marketing began to take over and oranges became the hot ticket item, especially when the great depression hit and citrus once again became the “expensive” treat. Nowadays, I just grab one out of the fridge to shove in the bottom of my kid’s stockings, and they know where they came from. But maybe that dowry thing has merit… I have two daughters…

“etrog” fruits for Sukkot

It fascinates me that we give “meaning” to everyday objects. Winter solstice celebrations involve fruit. The Jewish fall celebrations of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, requires an unblemished “etrog” fruit, and Hindus cherish “Buddha’s hand” a long citrus fruit with finger-like tendrils. Plus, of course, the dear old pear tree in which the partridge sits. But pears are not citrus, are they? Oh, nevermind then.

I suppose those everyday objects are a tangible way for us to connect. By giving them meaning and significance, it helps us to acknowledge God’s creativity in the world around us. For example, He displays His majesty in the sunset. And just think of how many flavours we have: sweet, spicey, rich and bitter. Oh, can you imagine what food will be like in Heaven?! No wonder we often celebrate and remember special occasions with feasts! This year, our gatherings may be a little different. Perhaps great aunt Mary may not come to dinner with her famous sweet potato side with toasted marshmallows, and maybe there will be no cookie exchanges or pie socials. Yet, I am still expecting an orange in the bottom of my stocking… and I will be glad for it, as it will remind me: I am blessed.