Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Homemade Organic Blueberry Fertilizer

October 12th, 2017

Around here we like blueberries, high bush blueberries. Maine is famous for their low bush blueberries, which are good, but I much prefer the high bush with their balance of sweet & sour. In Ohio we had six bushes, here in Maine we inherited a few that were not doing so well. Last year I added a few small ones to the garden, this year I added three more.

Blueberries have their own special likes when it comes to fertilization and treatment, they will perform much better if given the acidic conditions that they like. We naturally have acidic soil, but the blueberries are planted in garden areas where the native soil has been improved enough that it’s not as acidic as it could be. This is where sulfur comes in. Blueberries will apprciate a bit of sulfur. I mix up my own blend of fertilizer for the blueberry and other acidic loving shrubs (like rhodadendrons).

My recipe is as follows: 5 pounds sulfur, 5 pounds Tennessee brown phosphate, 5 pounds granite meal, mineral blend (I use Azomite, which I buy in 44lb bags and add to the entire garden as well as feeding it to the chickens), compost. If I have them, I add a small scoop of zeolites as well (these increase water and nutrient retention as well as keep nitrogen in the soil). I purchase all of my amendments at Fedco Grower’s Supply, which is close enough that I drive up and pick up my order.

Each blueberry plants gets a cup of my three ingredient fertilizer mixed into a bucket of compost. If I have mineral mix and zeolites, I add a quarter to a half cup of those as well. Mix well and spread around the blueberry plants. They will thank you for it with robust growth and lots of fruit.

Finding organic options for fertilizers can be a problem. I’m happy to have a large flock of birds to provide lots of fertilizer and a source for good compost. Most soils can use a few extras to help plants grow healthy plants.

Do you have a favorite homemade fertilizer mix for your garden?

Harvesting a LOAD of Butternuts

October 11th, 2017

I planted four butternut squash vines this summer, two of them ended up being a buttercup and not butternut variety. They were planted in an area that I mulched with chicken litter from the coop this spring. The results were vigorous vines that grew here, there, and EVERYWHERE!!! I noticed the vines were dying back, so I decided to pick up the squash to start curing them.

I was blown away by how many squash these two vines produced. There will be more than enough squash for us and all of our friends (and their friends too). Needless to day, heavy feeding squash really appreciate and make use of fresh poultry litter.

Now that they’re harvested, I need to get them curing. Then move on to harvesting pumpkins and bringing in other tender things. We haven’t had our first frost yet, but it will happen soon.

What plant produced more than you expected this summer?

Entryway Redo

October 9th, 2017

This past summer I had pots beside the front door filled with hyacinth beans and nasturtiums. There were other containers filled with tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and a few containers of begonias. They were getting a little long in the tooth, so I decided it was time for a bit of a redo.

Eventually, I want to do to a more permanent planting, something I can overwinter in the basement that I don’t have to purchase, seed, or pot up each year. I was thinking perhaps a few round boxwood, but then I remember that I had two ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas. These two moved with us from Ohio and have been floundering every since. They have been moved twice, but they simply do not enjoy the colder winters we get up here. Even though we are technically in the same zone we were in back in Ohio, the winters are completely different. The deer also have been munching on them, which doesn’t help them at all. On Saturday, I dug them up and potted them in two huge terra-cotta containers I recently scored for a great price.

Hydrangeas are great fall plants, the flowers turn purple and leave start to transition that way too. They should look fantastic for three seasons. I also harvested a few of my ‘Musque de Provence’ pumpkins to the mix and ended up with a nice autumnal display for this season. I’m looking forward to finally have beautiful mophead hydrangeas once again.

Do you change out any container garden plants for fall? What are your favorite ways to add fall flair to your entryway?

Friday Favorite: My New Tool Holder

October 6th, 2017

I don’t know when I first saw a tool holder made from D handle tools. We have Liberty Tool right in town, I stop frequently to check their stock of old garden tools. When I stopped Wednesday they had just what I needed, two D-handle shovels.

This project couldn’t be quicker or easier (or cheaper for only $10). My cross piece is an old broken shovel handle. Now I have a convenient spot to keep all my garden tools during the gardening season.

How do you keep your tools organized?

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

October 3rd, 2017

I finally decided to take the plunge and get a soil test. Since my gardens grow well, and I don’t have any issues, I’ve never really gotten around to getting a soil test. As I purchased a few soil amendments last week, I decided to get a few tests done of different garden areas.

I decided to test three different areas. Test plot #1 is the half of the main garden that I have been improving for the past 5 years. Test plot #2 is the half of the main garden that has been fallow. It’s received its first mulch of compost this year, the past four years it has been fallow under a batch of wood chips. Even with these minimal efforts, the soil is much better on that side than it was 5 years ago. The half that I have actively worked on improving is much better than this half. The third test plot is the potager. This garden is actually not native soil, it was a truck load of topsoil the previous owners had laid down on a hillside where they wanted to add a garden.

I’m getting comprehensive tests for all three areas. I haven’t decided yet if I want to pay the extra $ to get the particle size testing for each plot. Overall, it’s very inexpensive, each comprehensive test is only $22 (particle size testing is an additional $20 per test plot). Stay tuned, I’ll make sure to share the results.

Have you had your garden soil tested?

Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.