I’ve learned this one the hard way – make sure granulated fertilizer is dry so that spreaders can spread it.
I wondered why the fertilizer bags were leaking a watery, brown substance when I recently moved one off the top of the other in my garage. It was raining the day I purchased it, the bags were located on a pallet outside of the store under an overhang, and there was no indication that the contents were wet – until I opened the bag this past weekend.
Wet, clumpy fertilizer clogs mechanical spreaders. We tried two types of spreaders and neither worked. It was finally spread (flung) by hand using a bucket and trowel after many attempts to at least get the smaller spreader working. By about the fourth row of pushing the flimsier spreader, I was ready to throw everything out. I don’t mind exercise but that was ridiculous.
The MSU Extension directions are to fertilize and till the 3,000 square feet area before planting and then fertilize later between the rows with the second bag. I will need to somehow dry out the remaining bag of fertilizer. I can envision a sunbaked block requiring a chisel if I just set it outside on hot and sunny days to dry. Further thought is needed on this.
On a happier note, I picked up my plants today from the greenhouse and they look healthy. There are signs of the previous thrips damage, mostly just where they attacked the plants a few weeks ago. Round two of pepper plant seeds from Burpee still did not germinate, and a quick check of the empty plugs where seeds did not germinate overall, indicates a total loss of less than 20 percent of the 288 plugs I planted. I will harden off the plants over the next few days as discussed in the 4.20.18 posting.
Deer and rabbit deterrence will initially be addressed with a surrounding fence of t-poles with gallon milk and water jugs placed over the tops every 4 feet and aluminum pie tins banging around at the base – unsightly but I’ll try it. I’ll fence the garden off with twine or heavy kite string. This is the overall plan that another rural gardener says works for her. The movement of the water jugs and clanging of the pie tins keeps the furry pests away – when there is a breeze. For the particularly tasty plants such as peas, beans, and lettuces, I’ll section off those areas with chicken wire. The watering crows will eventually be added and I’ll make a moveable scarecrow.
Planting before the end of May can be risky but a check of the 10-day forecast shows nighttime temps staying above 53 degrees. If all goes well with the tilling, I’ll start the garden this Saturday, May 19. Stay tuned to a summer filled with battles and successes of this large rural garden!