Plant Food

If you see a gardener at Crystal Cove spraying liquid on the garden don’t be concerned, be informed! All our sprays are safe for humans, and animals. They are composed from organic ingredients only. The most common are as follows:

  • Crystal Cove Home Brew: A mixture of activated EM, Humic Acid, Liquid Kelp, Liquid Fish.
  • Compost Teas: Aerated bacterial or fungal teas brewed at Crystal Cove.
  • Beneficial Nematodes.
  • Water soluble Myccorhizae for turf.
  • ORGUNIQUE Liquid flower food 2-3-5 (annuals, and baskets)

NON  LIQUID ADDITIONS

  • For the garden beds we also use a blended 4-4-4 organic fertilizer from GAIA GREEN products of British Columbia (BC).
  • For the grass we use the chemical free, organic fertilizer 10-2-5 from another BC company called ORGANIQUE       

Gaia All Purpose 4-4-4 contains:  Alfalfa meal, steamed bone meal, blood meal, glacial rock dust, mined potassium sulphate, natural humate complex, rock phosphate, greensand, kelp meal, and gypsum.

RECIPE FOR CRYSTAL COVE HOME BREW

200 ml      activated effective microorganisms (EM)

100 ml      humic acid (root conditioner)

50   ml      cold process liquid kelp

25   ml      liquid fish

Measure all the above ingredients into a 10L sprayer. Fill with rain water, or de-chlorinated water. Chlorine will kill the micro organisms in the EM. Use all of the mixture in one session as it can go bad if left to sit.

BASIC COMPOST TEA RECIPE

It would take a long time to get enough compost to keep all the plants at CRYSTAL COVE happy, so we spread it when we have it, and the rest of the time we make lots of compost tea.  By using compost tea we get the benefits of our compost spread over a large area without actually having that much of it. There are many tea recipes on the internet, or be creative and make your own.

This tea is aerated for 24 to 36 hours in a garbage can. More air will produce more beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi.

Fill a 20 gallon garbage can with un-chlorinated water or let it stand for 24 hrs. Place all of the solid ingredients below in a large tea bag. I use a paint strainer bag. Submerge the bag completely in the center of the can. Add the liquid items to the water, and place a tight fitting lid on if using a strong air pump. Turn on air, and let bubble for 24- 36 hours. Mix finished tea with un-chlorinated water at a ratio of 1:10. Spray, or water plants within 8 hours of shutting off the air. Bacteria start to die once the air has stopped.

3     kg    mature compost

200 ml    molasses

80   ml    humic acid

80   ml    liquid kelp

80   ml    liquid fish

1 or 2      500mg vitamin C (optional)

Now that you have discovered we are using chemical free, organic fertilizers in our gardens at Crystal Cove, here is some information about what these products do.

EM

Effective Microorganisms that occur naturally are made up of 3 groups; lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and photosynthetic bacteria. All of these work co-operatively to produce hormones, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that are beneficial to plants. They also fix nitrogen, as well as carbon, and they convert toxins to nutrients. In the compost they speed up the breakdown of organic material, as well as preventing some of those nasty smells. EM has many uses outside the garden, so do some investigating, and some experimenting. You may apply EM as a spray, add it to teas, or transplant solutions. Best applied at a cool time of day, and even better under damp conditions. EM may be purchased as a mother culture. This needs to be activated (takes 2-3 weeks).  Activated EM can be purchased as well, but it has a shorter shelf life. Always mix EM with un-chlorinated water, or water left to stand for 24 hrs.

HUMIC ACID (ROOT CONDITIONER)

A combination of humic, and fulvic acids found in naturally occurring composted plant and animal residues. Humic acid is not a fertilizer. It does not provide nutrients for plants. It compliments the organic fertilizer that you use, and reduces the need for excessive amounts. Essentially it improves the quality of all types of soil. It allows for better water, and root penetration in clay, or compacted soils. In a sandy soil it adds vital organic material, which improves water retention, and root development. It also unlocks nutrients in the soil that are there, but that the plant can’t access, making them now useable to the plant. The stimulated soil microbes are responsible for continued production of humus in the soil, and overall improvement of the soil structure.

LIQUID KELP / KELP MEAL

Kelp has over 70 minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. It provides a balanced blend of amino acids, carbohydrates, and naturally chelated, ready to use micronutrients.

It also contains natural plant growth factors which improve root mass, and root length. Kelp meal breaks down slowly so it’s long lasting, and provides nutrition only as plants need it. Liquid kelp is mixed easily with irrigation water, or teas.

LIQUID FISH

This is a popular liquid fertilizer vital to organic gardens. It contains a wealth of vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and growth hormones. It’s natural properties, and lower nitrogen levels will not burn plants. It promotes beneficial microbes which make the soil less compact, which deepens roots, and unlocks nutrients already in the soil. This aids in producing a healthier plant which is less susceptible to fungus disease, and insect damage.

ROCK PHOSPHATE

This keeps phosphate levels up in the garden with a slow release (0-3-0) organic source. It’s a useful product to replace bonemeal, or use in conjunction with. With acidic soil in the Pacific Northwest, rock phosphate can be added to the hole at planting time, or scratched into the soil around existing plants. We add it to our compost so it disperses there, and ultimately it ends up in our compost tea.

                    
MYCCORHIZAE

Myccorhizae means 'fungus-root'. It defines the mutually beneficial relationship between the plant, and root fungus. These specialized fungi colonize plant roots, and extend far into the soil. They create extensions of root systems that merge with plants of like minded systems to share nutrients, and water absorption. This co-operation creates a massive network of roots for plants to draw on for sustenance, which aids in their health, and disease resistance. These networking fungi increase surface absorbing area of roots from 100 to 1,000 times. With increased food, and water uptake not only does the surface area of the roots increase, but powerful enzymes are released into the soil that dissolve hard to capture nutrients such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, and other tightly bound soil nutrients.

Undisturbed ground is already full of beneficial soil organisms, which include myccorhizae fungi. Tillage, certain pesticides, over fertilization, removal of topsoil, erosion, compaction, fumigation, invasion of weeds, and leaving soils fallow are some of the activities that will reduce or eliminate these beneficial soil fungi. Reintroduction of myccorhizal fungi into these depleted areas will aid plant performance with less water, and fertilizer needs over time.

In order for plants to benefit from additions of myccorhizae it must come into direct contact of the existing plant roots. Start at transplant time. There are two types of myccorhizae, endo, and ecto. Endo myccorhizae are generalists, and will colonize a broader variety of plant roots. Some plants only respond to the endo type, while other plants are non responsive to both types. For lawns there is a fine powder type that can be spread through water spray. A great application time is after aerating. Myccorrhizae of both types are best used in conjuction with organic fertilizer which tends to be slow release. Fast acting fertilizer can harm the fungi. Also avoid the use of soil drench and systemic fungicides.

BENEFICIAL NEMATODES

These critters can be applied to the lawn, and garden as a natural control for white grubs like European chafer, Japanese beetle, as well as European cranefly larvae (leather jackets), root weevils, ants, termites, and more. They are completely safe for humans, and animals. There are a few different varieties. Some will seek out their prey, while others lie in wait. If you know what the pest is that you want to eliminate a good supplier will match you up with the right type. I won’t go into detail as to how they operate, but they are worthy of investigation. If you’re squeamish though, it might be better to just have faith that they do work.

 

In conclusion what we are trying to accomplish at Crystal Cove by using natural products versus synthetic, and chemical is to bring our garden soil back closer to its healthy, active state prior to development. In 2011 we enter into our fourth year of this endeavor. From obvious clues we can see that our soil is changing. More birds, worms, and smaller populations of harmful insects. Active soil is necessary for a healthy garden. This activity will be rebuilt through the addition of all the natural products I have described. You may have noted a common theme in their descriptions. They all work together to build a more stable, and nourishing environment for microorganisms, and beneficial insects. Which in turn create the same environment for their plants. To complete the circle the plants deliver shelter, and cool the surface of the soil, which protects the microorganisms, so they can do their work. This is a learning process, and not an exact science. We feel it is another step in the right direction to provide a healthy rejuvenating environment for our guests, our staff, and the sensitive natural habitat that surrounds us.