AS the weather warms up it is time for thoughtful gardeners to stock up on ecological fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides that are safer to use than many chemical products for the family pets and neighbours.
Compared to 20 years ago there are now many products available to gardeners, most having been initially developed to support the growing of vegetables and fruit for export, but unfortunately recent emails from readers and my own research indicate that not all garden centres, horticultural shops and agricultural cooperative shops stock them.
However some alternatives can be made by yourself and some of the most important companies allow their products to be purchased via the internet as outlines below.
Some useful home made products
Nettle fertilizer – If you see any nettles growing in your garden or in the nearby lanes and countryside, cut them and steep them in water for a couple of weeks and then strain off the leaves and use the liquid to give plants a spring feed to strengthen them after the winter, including overwintered vegetables and fruit trees.
The solution can be used as a foliar feed. Not much different to the preparation of nettle soup for human consumption in the early spring. In fact might make a bowl this week.
Comfrey leaf fertilizer and compost accelerator – Fill a bucket or dustbin with leaves and then cover with water for three weeks before diluting with water and using to feed vegetables. Fresh leaves or the mush at the bottom are useful accelerators for the compost heap. If you would like some cuttings email via ‘[email protected]’
Compost heap compost – With luck last year’s compost heap is now ready for mixing into soils and tree planting holes being prepared for plantings and also for use as a mulch around shrubs.
Garlic insecticide – Mash a head of garlic and pour hot water over it and then leave it for a couple of days while the insecticide ingredients are leached out. Then strain and use, neat or dilutd to spray any insect attacks and as a preventive against the geranium moth. With geraniums repeat the spraying weekly, as new moths tend to come across the fence from neighbouring gardens where unsprayed plants can become breeding grounds in the spring. Now is also a good time to plant a couple of garlic segments in containers planted with geraniums and under rose bushes to help combat fungal attacks.
Thyme insecticide – Not as strong as a garlic spray but useful. Hang up bunches of leaves on the kitchen door to deter flying insects from entering.
Some useful internet sites for eco products
Trabe – [email protected] : Sell neem oil, propolis and dried nettle etc.
Niem-Handel – [email protected] : A German company with own plantations of neem trees in South America. Sells neem oil and dried neem powder. If you are a believer in 5,000 year old natural products, also sell neem based shampoo and tooth paste. You can email in English with no problem.
Terravida – www.terravida.com : Easiest and most economic source of TerraCottem soil improver, a gel based product useful for improving the moisture holding and fertility of composts and soils.
First used for growing vegetables in Africa, is now widely used for growing vegetables, fruit and all garden plants.
If you are preparing a new garden or replanting an existing garden, it is well worth buying a five kilo bucket of the product.
Sojivit – www.agroitems.com : Sell a wide range of Neem products based on their involvement in eco agriculture in Spain, India, South Korea and China. Also sell an inexpensive eco fertilizer and high quality peat substitute.
Happy spring gardening.
© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com March 2015.