It’s about time for our second crops. Plant potatoes, carrots, beets and radishes. September is time for another crop of broccoli, lettuce, Brussels sprouts and other cold crops.
Again, amending our soil is so important. Please compost all your waste, including all veggie scraps and most fruit. Avoid citrus. Coffee grounds will attract worms that are so important to soil, for increased nutrient availability, better drainage, more stable soil structure and improved nutrient availability, primarily nitrogen, which processes amino acids and chlorophyll in plants used in photosynthesis to make our food.
When shopping for fertilizer, it’s important to understand the labels. The symbols represent the primary nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). A soil test is recommended to indicate what your soil needs. The phosphorus and potassium are usually stable, so your soil is more likely to need nitrogen. If God gives us lightning with our rain, the nitrogen in our soil goes up. Amazing.
There are other ways to add nitrogen naturally to your soil. Chicken and rabbit droppings are a good source of nitrates, but they have to break down before they can be added to the soil. If you have a pond, fish water is an excellent natural fertilizer.
Other nutrients can be added to soil naturally. Depositing egg shells into soil is an amazing way to add calcium carbonate; however, the shells will have to break down for a year. Some of the plants in our gardens, especially tomatoes, peppers and egg plants will benefit as well. Roses love banana peels. Till them into the soil close to the plants, making sure they are buried because the raccoons love them as well.
Just as your vegetables and flowers love good soil, the weeds do too. It doesn’t take too long in Oklahoma to have a big problem with weeds, which compete for nutrients, moisture, sunlight and space in our gardens. If your garden is going downhill fast, you might consider starting over by killing everything in the garden. For a total kill, use a product with glyphosate such as Roundup, Kleenup or Kleenaway. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that will kill grasses and broadleaf plants. It breaks down quickly and is not active in the soil. Apply it according to directions when the plants are actively growing. Be sure to wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants.
If you prefer a natural approach to a total kill, you can spray with a mixture of one gallon of apple cider vinegar, one cup of table salt and one tablespoon of Dawn dish soap. I’ve been using this recipe for years.
It works on most unwanted plants but requires more than one application. It won’t kill invasive plants like trumpet vine or ivies, which call for the use of a product that requires a license.
If you want to save some of your plants, a different approach is necessary. Guess what that is? Weeding. Wear your gloves and sturdy gardening shoes or boots.
Rudzena is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.