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FLORICULT INSIDER vol. 5

This week, I’ve been reflecting a lot on last year’s progress. Taking time to acknowledge my accomplishments and keep track of what I’ve learned gives me a burst of energy and optimism.

Last year we removed the driveway from our backyard and transformed it into a growing space and entertainment area — and installed walkways to create continuity through the property.

(Btw - Filling this much raised bedspace is a feat. ChipDrop.com is an incredible way to get woodchips delivered for free. Let the pile decompose for 3-6 months and you can begin mixing it into other compost for your garden. It’s also an amazing walkway material that helps absorb water from heavy rains.)

I’m also going through all the containers I’ve tossed in the basement to save since last summer. Gardening supplies can get expensive - and unfortunately, modern gardening has started producing a lot of plastic waste. Here are a few tips I’ve found for saving $$ and the planet:

  • Seedlings can be grown in almost anything. The containers that mushrooms and berries come in, yogurt or cheese containers, toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes (cut down to 2-3” each), milk cartons cut in half longways, etc. Try these instead of plastic cell inserts.

  • Non-draining plastic trays are necessary for seed starting indoors. Splurge on heavy duty types that will last for several years. Cafeteria trays are an alternative, if you can find them.

  • Soil blockers are an amazing little tool that are used to create “blocks” or cells of soil by squishing wet dirt into a little square shape. They produce zero waste and are arguable better for seedlings. Roots will naturally stop growing or re-direct themselves when exposed to air, and you can transplant directly into the ground without having to roughly pull the plant out of a plastic container. I recommend Ladbrooke.

10 MINUTE TASKS

This week, choose a Hori Hori knife. This is my #1 recommended gardening tool. It is an all-in-one, and replaces your need for a spade, a knife, a ruler, and sometimes even a small saw.

Look for a knife with a Japanese blade. This is the one I use.

‘CULT SCHOOL

Last week we talked about the 3 key elements that define great soil. Trying to get good soil is just trying to create the (1) ideal soil structure, (2) PH level, and (3) nutrients. If you want to read about Soil Structure, here’s last week’s email.

2. PH Levels

The PH level controls the availability of nutrients to your plants. The human body works the same way. You might have all the nutrients available to you through healthy eating and supplements, but if the environment (your body or the dirt) is too alkaline or too acidic, those nutrients will be “locked” and inaccessible.

3. Nutrient-rich (or at least not severely nutrient-deficient)

There are 17 primary nutrients that plants need to survive. They’re grouped into three: (1) Air-derived nutrients, (2) Soil-derived macronutrients and (3) Soil-derived micronutrients.

For your first year of gardening, there are 3 that you must understand: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).

Pick up any kind of fertilizer and you will see three numbers, separated by dashes. 14-5-12. This is the N-P-K ratio. All-purpose fertilizers provide all three nutrients in the same formula, while organic materials like Bone Meal (eg. 0-20-0) or Blood Meal (eg. 14-0-0) just provide one.

(N) Nitrogen: A major component of chlorophyll, it’s responsible for making things green. It’s the most heavily used nutrient and is used in new shoots, buds, and leaves.

(P) Phosphorus: This is the nutrient responsible for the energy storage and transfer within a plant. It’s used for growth and reproduction – which means root production and flowering.

(K) Potassium: This nutrient controls water regulation, improves drought resistance, and is required for protein synthesis.

The easiest way to remember what they do is “Up, Down, All Around. Nitrogen predominantly supports things “up” at the top of the plant, like healthy green foliage growth. Phosphorus impacts what’s “down” such as root growth (a big deal for root veggies like carrots or potatoes). Potassium is “all around” beneficial, similar to a plant’s immune system. It strengthens the plant’s defense system against bugs and diseases, and helps it adjust to sudden changes in temperature or moisture.

GARDEN TOUR

If you’re hunting for a Podcast, listen to Joe Gardener. If you’d rather watch TV, you can enjoy his show Growing A Greener World on Youtube. THANK ME LATER.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

I’m lowkey obsessed with Feverfew, also known as Chamomile or Magic Single Matricaria. It takes quite a while to get started by seed, and can be delicate during the spring - but once it takes off in summer it cannot be stopped.

It’s perfect for borders or containers or smack dab in the middle of your raised beds with all the vegetables. If you are starting it by seed, I recommend starting early and being extremely sure that it does not become leggy.

Until next weekend —

Lauren

Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors. –Mary Cantwell

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