Hello everyone! Welcome back to the 2nd article on herbs and spices! In this article I will discuss how you can prepare your soil for the delicious crop your going to harvest.
First off, I’ll discuss what fertilizer is ideal for herbs and for spices then I move on to how you can maintain your soil; from sprout to harvest. Lastly, I will touch upon some FAQs that other ask. Let’s dive right in!
In this section I’ll offer you the most ideal fertilizer to get a large crop and a tasty herb or spice out of your harvest.
There are three main nutrients in fertilizer, known as N-P-K, or Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium respectively. Along with these nutrients you have secondary nutrients and micro nutrients which are contained in magnesium, calcium, lime, gypsum, urea, manure, etc.
Other micro nutrients include (Cl) Chlorine, (Fe) Iron, (Ni) Nickel, (Cu) Copper, (Mn) Manganese, (Zn) Zinc etc.
Nitrogen is required in the largest quantity in plants which mainly goes towards protein synthesis as well as other physiological processes and stalk growth. In other words, it makes your plants grow strong.
If a Nitrogen deficiency occurs, it will appear on the lower leaves with a yellow to pale green discoloration. But beware of using too much Nitrogen as it will result in a lowered immunity overall for the plant as well as its ability to fruit.
This nutrient is easily found in animal manure in the from of orthophosphate. It’s released as it decomposes.
It adds flavor in your crop and improves you crop’s ability to flower. An additional boon is that it prevents pests from calling your crop home.
Potassium aka Potash (K)
Potassium boosts seed and root production as well as improve resistance to plant diseases. Again, beware of using too much, because as a salt it may cause damage. Too much of it will not allow other nutrients to be absorbed.
On the other hand, Potassium improves your plants tolerance to extreme weather conditions and drought and contributes to overall plant health.
There are numerous nutrients that your plants need to survive. Some they need in small quantities and others they need considerably more. Each nutrient promotes certain aspects of plant growth and physiology.
As you know, for a plant to be overall healthy, you need to administer a certain ratio of N:P:K fertilizer. As you become more informed about fertilizer, you will be able to look at signs of nutrient deficiencies and identify the correct source to used to get your plant back to optimal health.
Fertilizer is absorbed through the root system so it’s no use spraying it on leaves.
Also, be aware that you need the correct pH for nutrients to be absorbed and that fertilizer can influence pH levels.
But beware of using too much – I Can’t Stress this Enough
There is a risk of using too much fertilizer. You see, the soil can only absorb and use a certain amount of nutrients. Any extra nutrients just leaches right throughout the soil and into the nearest water source or where a deficit occurs.
If that happens, the imbalanced nutrient content in the soil will be used by weeds for example or will be found in rivers and ponds. This boosts algae growth and creates a potential grave for aquatic animals if the algae takes over.
Always first confirm how much fertilizer you should use and prepare right ratio beforehand; protect the environment.
I will discuss how you can take care of your soil so your crop stays fresh and fertile during the growing period up until its ready to be harvested. Here are several steps you can take to ensure your soil stays healthy and fertile all year long.
1. Start Composting – Recycle Nutrients
Nothing says sustainability more like allowing the earth to recycle its old nutrients. By composting you not only save money but you’ll attract microbial activity to the pile and incorporate it into your soil.
2. Organic Matter – Improve Fertility
If you are not going to compost, it will still be wise to add organic matter in the form of fertilizer to your soil. Determine which specific nutrients your crop requires and buy the correct ratio of N:P:K as well micro nutrients.
3. Microbial Growth – Add Earthworms
A great way of keeping soil healthy naturally is to add earthworms to the soil. They naturally till and process nutrients in the soil to such an extent that soil will maintain itself.
4. Cover Crops – Soil Protection
Cover crops can offer great protection from weather conditions as well as add specific nutrients to your soil when they die off and is processed over time. Some cover crops promote the growth of other crops by having coexistence boon with its environment.
5. Green Manuring – Recycle Your Previous Crops
This is a process where you plough or till recently cropped plants and legumes back into the soil. You are essentially turning your soil into a natural compost area.
6. Crop Rotation – Keep your Soil Fresh
Different crops take in different nutrients. It is only macro nutrients that is taken up by each plant in considerable quantities in different ratios. But to ensure your soil has time to recover nutrients, you can try different crops after each harvest.
7. Till Less – Don’t Disturb the Ecosystem
It is only when your soil is brackish that you should consider tilling fertilizer into it. When it has that healthy dark color to it, indicating it is fertile, that you should leave it be. Over-tilling will cause you to lose nutrients and microbial life, because you are disturbing its sensitive ecosystem.
8. Fallow – Let the Land Rest
When you have cycled your crops regularly and notice that your harvest is no longer as abundant as usual, it is ideal to let the soil rest instead of adding more fertilizer. Consider using another plot of land until the current plot’s soil has time to recover.
See here what others are asking about herbs and spices. Maybe there’s a question you haven’t thought of that you’ll find an answer to here.
Herbs prefer soils that drain well. You can assure this by adding mulch to the soil mixture or fertilizer that is chunky. Make sure that it drains deeper and not out of the soil.
Again, it is important that water can drain through the soil. Ensure that there is enough soil in the pot for enough nutrients and that water does not accumulate and flood the herb or spice. Watch the video below on how Burpee explains to plant potted herbs.
The majority of herbs need abundant sunlight in order to thrive. Confirm that your herbs are exposed to an average of 8 hours sunlight per day.
When buying seeds in packets, you can inspect the back of the packet for an indication of how much sunlight it requires.
As with other plants, your herbs and spices need an all round fertilizer that can supply a range of nutrients to your crop. For a healthier flavour and lifestyle, consider using organic fertilizer.
The overall verdict is that your own natural compost is a good substitute to bought fertilizer. Herbs do not need a lot of fertilizer, but by applying a fraction you can have great results.
Yes, apply fertilizer directly to the soil and water well. Use fertilizer sparingly and accordingly.
Ensure that you either receive or make organic fertilizer. Sources for this include manure and compost that you have prepared yourself. Always make sure that it contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Height – Place herbs and spices together that will grow to the same height; so that your crop does not have to compete for sunlight.
Water Requirements – Do not place herbs and spices together who require different water regiments. Do not place crops together that require well drained soils and crops that require more water.
Thank you! I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it educational. There’s a lot more to come for future posts. My next blog post will include a review of products that can be used in preparing your soil and how to prepare your harvest for drying and storage.
In my previous article I give you an overview of the different herbs and spices as well as their health benefits.