Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Community Garden is looking great! The 4 x 4 raised beds are in several stages from "planted three weeks ago" to "planted last weekend". But every garden has green growing things in it, and everyone seems to be enjoying tending their little plots and comparing notes. And, of course, quite a few people have planted tomatoes, herbs and veggies in their own sites.

As you may recall we are trying a number of techniques to increase our gardening room, from upside-down tomatoes, 4 x 4 raised beds, using a child's wading pool as a container bed for squash, an adapted version of the Japanese tomato ring, pots of every size, tiers for containers and even some in-ground gardening.

Sometimes you come across something that ought to be glaring obvious to any gardener, but isn't. Compare the two pictures; R's 4 x 4 24 hours before and 24 hours after application of ground volcanic lava.

There's a gentleman camping here now who is giving away bags of a product called "Supragrow" which is basically ground up red volcanic lava. He brought me a bag and said, "Tomatoes can grow two inches in 24 hours after an application of this stuff."

I was a bit skeptical but I had transplanted a row of four inch tall tomatoes into my 4 x 4 a couple of weeks ago, just because I couldn't bear to throw them away. Poor little things were purple as eggplants because of the cold nights they had endured. Though they had gradually turned from purple to green they hadn't really grown that much.

So I did as he suggested, adding four tablespoons of the ground mineral to a two litre bottle of water. I watered them at about 4:00 pm. When I went back at 6:00 pm to water everything else I was astounded to see that my little tomato plants had grown visibly in that two hours! By the next morning they had all grown two inches in height and put on a new cluster of leaves! They are still growing. I staked them this morning, something I didn't think I was going to have to do.

So yesterday I took five two-inch tall tomato plants I hadn't even been able to give away and transplanted them into the bed under the willow tree, adding the ground minerals to the soil around the hole and in the water I watered them in with. When I transplant anything I dig the hole, fill it with water, poke the plant in and push the soil up around the root ball. This is a technique I learned from a botanist in the 70s and I have not lost a plant to transplant shock since.

Results? One plant is six inches high today. Three are about four inches high and the fifth hasn't gotten much bigger but has a new set of leaves. Everything I "doctored" with the minerals grew faster than usual and developed a much more intense colour. I watered the Brussels sprouts with the mineral and water combo last night and not only did they grow a couple of inches, I can't believe how green they became, overnight. They looked fine before, but now they are the darkest, glossiest, healthiest-looking brassicas I have ever seen!

This is not a fertilizer. It does not contain nitrogen or potash. It contains a lot of iron, as well as calcium and potassium, other minerals and trace elements. Calcium and potassium are charged ions essential to the exchange of energy in biological systems.

So we add yet another experiment to our growing techniques. Several people have bags of the minerals now and are testing them. This is the kind of thing that makes growing things so exciting and so much fun. You just never know what you will learn, what is waiting around the corner!

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