Have you ever wondered how healthy you would be if your food consisted of dextrose, vitamin and mineral pills, a shot of cooking oil every now and then and a daily pure fibre cookie? I've pondered this for some days, since it struck me that this is almost the 'mealplan' of plants fed with chemical fertilizer. The solution I use promise to provide every mineral and nutrient a plant needs. Since my plants stays healthy as long as they get their weekly clean water shower there may be some truth in that.
I use chemical fertilizer for two reasons; it's easy to store for a long time in room temperature, and there are limits to how advanced I can be when I'm starting something. In the beginning of this experiment the idea of growing vegetables indoors was odd in itself, I wasn't in the mood of experimenting with "natural" fertilizer too. Now I'm changing into nutrients I can make out of plants and plant waste, and are cheap and easy to produce.
Since I'm growing stuff indoors there are limits to what I can use - I'm reluctant to use anything that smells for example. The dark fluid in the glass above is the water left when I parboiled nettles a few days ago. This is what I use now, mixed one part to ten with clean water (you may remember that I think this fluid contains nutrients because of its colour). It doesn't smell much, and I hope it'll make my iceplant taste better. Since I've only used it once I can't say if it works or not. It's a temporary solution (ahaha), and when I've emptied my fertilizer carboys of this I'll replace it with something made from an old established recipe.
So, are there any old established recipes to use? Well, I know about two which involves fermenting, and one of them is known to have a smelly result (ie. nettle water). The other is easy to describe; you make a hole in the bottom of a bucket, fill it with comfrey leaves and place it over a tin. When the leaves rot a dark brown fluid drips into the tin, and this fuid is then diluted with water (one part to fifteen parts clean water, we are talking strong stuff here) to a liquid fertilizer. Neither do this sound as something sweetly fragrant. But since I live according to the motto "better living through reckless experimentation" I'll try it to see if the smell is something that stays or if it fades after a while.
I've also ordered some tiger worms to start up vermicomposting, and from this I count on having both dry and liquid fertilizer. If you keep your compost in plastic bins, which I intend to do, the worms and the waste will produce fluid that is good for making liquid fertilizer (and we could now say it together "dilute it with clean water"). The good thing about vermicompost is it doesn't smell much, the finished product is said to smell like soil (surprise). I don't know if this goes for the 'composttea' too, but this is my favorite candidate for a future standard solution.
Besides I think plants too deserve a cucumber decoration on their drinks every now and then.
I'm pretty fond of Cafe Press. The feeling of seeing one's pictures printed professionally on everything from teddybears to posters is hard to beat. That's why I started to put up my pic of the day there. If you like the blog or the photo you can buy some prints. (I'm doing this for the fun of it, but this doesn't keep me from saying "Shop 'till you drop!" ;-) )
Prints of today's pic here.