feeding through the foliage

When I go to the farmers market I always try to talk to the farmers. Often I ask questions about gardening/farming and am usually surprised by the answer. I always learn something new. The great thing about gardening/farming is that there are so many ways to go about a task. Problem solving would be to rigid a designation for farming. If Problem Solving is the constant state then we should try to look at things not in terms of problems and solutions but in terms of riding a wave of constant change. Problem solving evokes notions of something wrong that needs to be rectified. Growing live organisms should always result in multiple problematizations in which we are nudged into new places (evolution). That is to say problems are good if they are our constant state. We should acknowledge that we truly do not want to rid ourselves of the problem of lets say, pests. Solutions only disrupt our ecology. Solutions are for the twentieth century and non-organic, standardized, large-scale farming.

This last trip to the Bloomingdale Farmers Market I began talking about leeks and spacing with one of the farmers, the difference between mechanized farming and hand harvesting leeks. We began to talk about piling mounds to keep sunlight off the bottom of the leeks to a keep them away from the photosynthesis that turns them green. That turned to a conversation about misting leafs and feeding plants seaweed and kelp through foliage.

Although I have done this in the past it reminded me that this was just what was needed for a particular situation in our garden. Recently we planted seeds for about 80 pumpkin plants that we are planning to transplant to Scott Montgomery Middle School this week. Initially the plants popped out of the soil looking very strong. About a week ago we noticed they were looking a bit weak. The conversation with the farmer made me realize that the pumpkin seedlings had used up all of the nutrients in the tiny pots that we had planted them in to act as their temporary homes.

We went home and generously sprayed the foliage with a mixture of a seaweed and kelp concentrate and water. Within a couple of hours the plants were standing up straighter. Within 48 hours new growth appeared and it looks like they are back on track. While spraying the pumpkins we also sprayed the tomatoes, okra and other vegetable plants in our garden, everything looks significantly happier than it did a few days ago despite the heat of the last couple of days.

When the seaweed and kelp mixture is sprayed on the plant the minerals and nutrients are absorbed by the leaves and go into the plant directly. This is a much more immediate and direct method of feeding the leaves and plant than through the soil where only some of the nutrients are absorbed and it takes time to get to the whole plant. This is not to say that you should omit feeding the roots of the plant but, that a mixture of the two types of feeding is ideal. I have also read that seaweed and kelp helps plants resist disease and mildew.