Kevin asks: We have moved to a lovely (new to us) home since we were displaced by the Tubbs firestorm.
The previous owners developed a good-sized tomato and veggie garden, but most of the plants don’t appear healthy. I am wondering if they are lacking micronutrients along with other available nutrients.
Not knowing the garden history, we are unsure what has been added to the soil. Is adding feather meal and/or greensand a sound idea?
Our suggestion would be to have a soil test done to determine what your soil is lacking and recommendations as to what nutrients can be added.
Harmony Farms has this service for a cost. Contact them for soil testing instructions through their website.
So how would one use feather meal and greensand? Greensand 0-0-3 is considered a slow potassium fertilizer that will last for four to five years when it is incorporated into the soil.
Feather meal 12-0-0, on the other hand, is a byproduct of processed poultry feathers that are thoroughly cleaned, heated and ground. It is available to the plant for an extended time and is not used as a liquid fertilizer.
Here is a tip: There is a laminated informational field chart that is helpful in identifying plant ailments, diagnosing and treating nutritional deficiencies for all plant types. It is produced by Darwin’s Garden and can be purchased online.
Mary M. asks: Can you identify the name of this specimen that is the size of a small orange and has large multiple thorns on its stem; each can be 1 to 2 inches. It grows like a large thorny tree or shrub. When cutting open the fruit, it has numerous seeds (30) and is very bitter. Years ago Garth Hokanson shared small cuttings of this plant with my garden club. Unfortunately, I have misplaced its label.
A sample was provided, and the botanical name of this plant is Citrus trifoliata, commonly referred to as the Flying Dragon or Japanese bitter orange.
The plant is hardy to -10 degrees. Flying Dragon requires full sun and has twisted, contorted and thorny stems. It is deer resistant and is native to China and Korea. The rind can be candied or used as a fruit marmalade. It is traditionally used in medicine for allergic inflammation.
Why plant this curiosity if it is so thorny?
Flying Dragon has many attributes that make it a desirable plant for our climate: It is attractive to birds. It’s a butterfly host. It has winter interest because of its orange golf-ball-sized fruit. But most of all, it is a bizarre-looking plant that makes a great conversation piece in any garden.
Another curiosity for the garden: What is a porcupine tomato?
This plant is a fun addition to the garden that is actually a member of the tomato family (Solanum). Botanically, it is known as Solanum pyracanthum, and it is described by Annie from Annie’s Annuals as having “blue-green, fuzzy-lobed leaves (and) orange fuzzy stems that display fabulous fiendish upright growth, with thorns that emerge out of orange midribs on the foliage.”
In summer it is covered with purple blooms. The plant has a branching form that reaches a height and width of 3 feet by 3 feet. Plant in a contrasting 5-gallon container and do protect it from frost.