Tag Archives: organic fertilizer

Making Lacto Bacillus Serum (organic fertilizer) to Fortify My Garden

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Do you want to learn about a super easy way to increase the productivity and health of your garden?   This fertilizer called “labs” for short is easy to make and the results are amazing.  I learned about making lacto-bacillus serum from the head horticulturalist at the Denver Golf Courses who also heads a very productive donation garden at Harvard Gulch Golf Club in Denver.

The term Lacto-Bacillus Serum sounds fancy but in truth, this simple to make recipe provides a workhorse of beneficial bacteria for your garden and has multiple other applications including :

  • Speeding decomposition in the compost pile
  • Unclogging drains
  • Treating powdery mildew on squash plants
  • Eliminating odor in animal bedding
  • Improves growth of plants when applied as foliar spray and soil drench.
  • Improves their efficiency in absorbing nutrients so naturally, growth is enhanced.

“With the use of these microorganisms, the nutrients you spray or drench to feed your plants become more bio-available and are more easily absorbed by the plants. Technically, you can say that plants do not use organic nutrients directly. Microorganisms convert organic nutrients to their inorganic constituents which the plants utilize. Utilizing microbes, you will notice better plant growth and health.”   –The Unconventional Farmer.

Labs Recipe:

Ingredients:   rice, water, milk

Directions: 

  1.   Day One:  Immerse a cup of rice in a quart of water.   Drain the water into a canning jar – filling it about 3/4 full.   Discard the rice.   Cover the jar with a paper towel but it should not be airtight.   Store it on top of the refrigerator and after a few days, the liquid will separate.
  2.  Day Three:   Siphon off the center layer adding 1 part serum to 10 parts milk and put in another container, cover tightly and let sit for another few days.   Once curds appear, you can strain the liquid with a cheesecloth (the curds can be fried up and eaten).
  3.  Day 5-6   For the Garden  Add 1 part serum to 20 parts water to spray in the garden.   Use on plants weekly Store in the frig or add molasses to store at room temperature.  Stable for about a year.

Sources of information:

The Unconventional Farmer:   http://theunconventionalfarmer.com/

Build a Soil:  https://buildasoil.com/blogs/news/8634877-gil-carandang-lactobacillus-serum-recipe

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Falling Head First Into The Garden — The Usual Early Season Psychosis

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April is a heady time of year for me.   Passionate discussions about all aspects of gardening (in-person, on the phone, via text message), frequent visits to local nurseries, intersecting projects and conversations, early morning inspirations and a parade of dirty shoes, gloves and digging clothes littering my floors are all signs that my brain and energy are focused on one subject – THE GARDEN.   Fortunately, the days are getting longer, I have time to work on a myriad of projects and garden geeks eager to talk and share surround me at every turn.

Making Lacto Bacillus Serum – organic fertilizerIMG_9452

  • Contacted John Swain, the horticulturalist for the Denver Golf Courses and designer/planter/co-manager of the donation garden at Harvard Gulch Golf Course and passionate home gardener.   A winter has come between our last fact filled gardener conversation so we had a lot to talk about.   As always, he is a fountain of enthusiasm and information and turned me on to two important sources as well as the benefit of using lacto bacillus serum in the garden (labs for short):
  • The Unconventional Farmer:   http://theunconventionalfarmer.com/
  • Build a Soil:  https://buildasoil.com/blogs/news/8634877-gil-carandang-lactobacillus-serum-recipe
  • Labs are a workhorse of beneficial bacteria (which is edible) and has multiple applications including — speeding decomposition in the compost pile, unclogging drains, treating powdery mildew on squash plants, eliminating odor in animal bedding and most importantly,  “Improves growth of plants when applied as foliar spray and soil drench. Improves their efficiency in uptaking nutrients so naturally, growth is enhanced. With the use of these microorganisms, the nutrients you spray or drench to feed your plants become more bio-available and easily absorbable by the plants. Technically, you can say that plants do not use organic nutrients directly. Microorganisms convert organic nutrients to their inorganic constituents which the plants utilize. Utilizing microbes, you will notice better plant growth and health.”   -The Unconvential Farmer.
  • Labs recipe:  I mixed myself up a batch and its still incubating.   Its easy to make and the recipe can be viewed on the link about from the Build a Soil website.   Basically, you wash rice and take the water and fill a Ball jar about 75% full and cover with a paper towel — make sure air can get in.   Store it on top of the refrigerator and after a few days, the liquid will separate.   Siphon off the center layer adding 1 part serum to 10 parts milk and put in another container, cover tightly and let sit for another few days.   Once curds appear, you can strain the liquid with a cheesecloth (the curds can be fried up and eaten).    You add 1 part serum to 20 parts water to spray in the garden.   Store in the frig or add molasses to store at room temperature.  Stable for about a year.

Garden Hacks

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  • Strawberries and asparagus grow happily together; plan to add strawberries to my new planted asparagus patch
  • Used my mole cages to sift compost into my cold frames
  • Sprinkle carrot and beet seeds together every few weeks to have a continuous crop
  • Marijuana growers have to dispose of growing mix are harvesting the plants; the vermiculate and soil less mix is great mixed into raised beds and helps lighten the soil
  • Dryer lint can be put in the compost pile
  • I used paint stirrers for marking seeds and plants.   Pick them up for free every time I stop at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Progress at Rosedale Garden – my 19th year in this community garden!IMG_9438

  • Planted purple and green asparagus in two 8 inch deep trenches this week; once sprouted will cover with 3 inches of dirt
  • Peas planted on March 15 finally sprouted, planted a third row on April 7
  • Prepped more beds and mapped out where everything is going
  • Seeded pumpkin bed with winter wheat; won’t be planting there for two months
  • Garlic planted in frozen soil in late December is up and growing; looks like its going to make it!
  • Susan has been making videos of me at the garden and I am learning how to edit them!

Opening up the St. Philip Donation Garden

  • Scheduled a work day for this Sunday to get started prepping the beds at St. Philip.
  • One volunteer came and we cleaned up two beds, added fresh compost and planted peas, onions and a variety of cold crops.   Watered and talked about plans.
  • Three plots are spoken for with another two gals potentially interested in volunteering in the donation beds.
  • This is our third year and I’m sorry that I’ve lost my partner of the first two years, Lerae Schnickel to another church ministry.   She was great to work with and its hard to move forward without her support.

Helping at a Jovial Gardens Neighborhood ProjectIMG_9480

  • Jovial Gardens is a really cool Denver-based organization that helps build gardens in neighborhoods.   One of their goals is to decrease food scarcity in the urban environment and  grow food for local food banks.  The group originally started in Edgewater, a suburb on Denver, and organized gardens in more than 40 yards in the neighborhood.   https://jovialconcepts.org/about-us/
  • My friend and master gardener, Teri Connelly is working with Jovial to install gardens in the yards of a number of her neighbors in Arvada.   Today, I had the chance to visit on a work day and saw work in progress in at least 6 yards.   The enthusiasm and excitement of the neighbors and volunteers was awesome.   Teri shared that in one front yard garden they harvested almost a 1000 pounds of organic produce last year.   I would love to start such a program in my neighborhood (Trailmark)  in Littleton.

Seedling Update on the Home Front

  • My experiment of seeding tomatoes and peppers for the first time has had mixed results.   All but one of the 12 varieties of tomatoes I planted has sprouted.   It took less than a week.   I learned that they need a heat mat and lights!IMG_9484.JPG
  • 8 of 11 peppers sprouted this week.   More time needed?
  • The tomatoes are very leggy but John Swain told me that they need grow lights and that its not too late for them to stabilize.
  • I only have one grow light so I’ve set it up for 14 hours alternatively above the trays of peppers, then the tomatoes.   Ordered a 4 foot rack with light from Amazon yesterday so hope it arrives this week.
  • Nothing has sprouted in the milk jugs I planted last week.  Time will tell

 

 

 

 

 

How to Make Cold Brew Worm Tea

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Over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of fertilizers for my garden, including Miracle Grow which I later found out was not organic and not allowed in my organic community garden. Fast forward several years, I’ve found worm tea to be the BEST organic fertilizer by far. This amazing fertilizer was first introduced to me by my garden neighbor, Marilynn Banks, who brews it at home and sells me gallon jugs of what she calls”soil soup” for $4 each.   Marilynn brews the tea with worm casings; the process of which causes all kinds of beneficial microorganisms to come alive.   Once brewed, the worm tea has to be applied within 24 hours to insure the maximum benefit.   In my garden, the results of using worm tea have been amazing – hearty growth, robust, healthy plants, abundant harvest.  I soon became dependent on regular applications of this organic “miracle grow”.

Several years later, I was lucky enough to pop into a local garden shop and score a worm cooker, casings and the special liquid ingredient for free!   My garden neighbor was none too happy to hear I’d gotten such a deal when she had hoped I’d buy the set up from her.  As a consolation, I still buy gallons of tea from her when I don’t have time to brew my own.   But this season, I have finally ran out of the special ingredients and am faced with putting some serious money on the table to replace it from the Soil Soup vendor.

Last Sunday, I tuned into a favorite PBS show, “Growing a Greener World” and was happy to see a demonstration on how cook up my own worm tea on the cheap.   Here is what you need:

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • aerator
  • 3 cups worm casings
  • dried molasses (or 2 -3 cups liquid)
  • square of cloth for tea bag
  • rope
  • 5 gallons of water (no chlorine — let is evaporate out a day); rainwater is good

Fill the bucket with water and let sit for a day to let chlorine evaporate.   Put 3 cups or so of worm casings in square of fabric (16 X 16) and tie with 2 ft of twine.   Add 1/2 cup or so of dried molasses to water.   Or a 2 cups of liquid molasses.   Dip “tea bag” in the bucket of water and secure to handle.   Add aerator and let tea “cook” for a day.    Once cooked, apply tea to garden within 24 hours.

Voila!   Worm Tea!