Author Archives: Mimenta

Beating the frost, for free!

It’s April here and the days are growing shorter and cooler. The summer vegetables are dead stalks, having born their fruit. Soon the frosts will hit, so any leafy green vegetables will blacken and die off when the water in their cells expands as it freezes. I have some mignonette lettuce and some basil plants […]

Using micro climates

It’s important to realise that plants rely heavily on humidity. Their roots draw water and nutrients up from the soil to the leaves. Evaporation of the water at the leaves, creates the suction for more water to be drawn up from the roots. If it’s humid, the water evaporation rate drops and the plant gets […]

Symbiotic relationships and fertility – Fungi.

With the boom in plantation forestry, silvaculturists noticed that some trees grew well in some areas but not in others, even though the soils were identical. Chemical analysis couldn’t explain the difference. Finally it was discovered that a fungi, at the time dubbed mycorrhiza, was causing the difference. It was colonising the root tips and […]

Symbiosis and fertility

So far we have focused on soil structure the chemicals. The trend today, is to take a piece of land, strip the top soil and build on the sub soil. Then to replace the top soil for landscaping, they bring in what they call “sandy loam”. This is usually mostly sand with minimal loam. It […]

Trace Elements

These are elements, that effect soil fertility but are present in tiny amounts, too small to measure without some very sophisticated equipment. Different trace elements favour different plants. We are still discovering what trace elements do in plants. In many cases they are present in such small amounts, it is hard to determine if they […]

Soil fertility – The NPK group – Nitrogen

Nitrogen To produce leafy growth plants need more nitrogenous compounds. Through photosynthesis they break these down to extract the nitrogen required to create leaf cells. This means they need a compound that is rich in nitrogen. Usually we use urea or ammonium sulphate based fertilisers to increase the nitrogen available for plants. Chicken manure is […]

Fertility and the NPK group – Potassium

Potassium Potassium is generally linked to seed, flowers and fruit production. It is highly soluble and easily leached out of the soil. For this reason is uis more common in sandy soils. Though it is present in manure in small quantities, it is much higher in ash. Primitive cultures discovered that burning off the vegetation […]

Fertility and the NPK group – Phosphorus

Phosphorus is usually associated with root growth. Plants grown in soils deficient in Phosphorus are usually stunted. Adding phosphate fertilisers to new plants is a common practise that produces rapid lush growth, however it does not increase the final yield in many cases. For this reason grazier farmers add superphosphate (or super as it is […]

Soil fertility and plant nutrients

We have looked at soil structure which is usually the key to a good garden in most areas but we should also discuss fertility here as well. Fertility is the result of three factors: Structure – it doesn’t matter how rich your soil is in nutrients if the plant can’t get to them or the […]

Soil structure – the wet test

In my case we had a red clay. To see how much of each component was in the soil, I placed a sample of soil in a glass bottle, so it filled it to about half way. I added water and shook it vigorously. I left it to settle overnight and it separated into three […]