Now we'll look at the 2nd of three types of maintenace feeding: SIDE DRESSING with compost mulch ...
Go back to MAINTENANCE: FEEDING PLANTS 01 - LIQUID / FOLIAR FEED ~ if you've missed it.
Go frugal using our vertical hanging garden growbags. Firstly you’ll save on the amount of water and soil amendments used, as well as reclaim and recycle these nutrients.
PLANTUP-ZA fabric’s hi-tech moisture control fibre and weave’s combined properties enhance nutrient percolation. It literally sweats and breathes to keep living soil within sufficiently moist and aerated ... Show some love for our PUZA slow sipping growbags.
Month #2, Compost Side Dressing
Soil has settled some what, but as yet not compacted fully. Our fabulous fabric growbags can be squeezed and hugged to break up soil bonds. By breaking up chemical bonds of hardened earth you help release the last bits of trapped nutrients, for roots to absorb. Also break up fixed water channels which funnel water straight out of container, bypassing roots. In standard containers you'll find a dead anaerobic soil layer caused by a lack of air for soil organisms to survive in this dead zone. Also pot bound white fibrous roots circling container, which slowly chokes plants to death as roots thicken.
Our 'breathing and sweating' moisture control fabrics ;create 100% active topsoil plus air pruned roots. When roots hit the fabric boundary they'll find it 'drafty' - confusing airflow for the surface. This encourages roots to branch off into finer hair roots to create better anchorage because they believe it is too close to the surface. Roots have moisture absorbing root hairs only at their tips. More branching root tips mean plants are able to absorb and 'pump' more nutrient rich moisture to where it's needed. More processing power = more plant growth.
Great active topsoil slows the flow of water; soaking up and retaining water for roots to absorb and pump to where nutrients are needed. Also soil born humus retains moisture. But this organic matter eventually breaks down and biodegrades as required. So to help keep water where it’s needed near roots we add a layer of compost as side dressing.
Compost-Mulch Ingredients: Side dressing mix content is based on homemade compost. This is a combination of leaf mulch + well rotted compost. Containing more mature brown composting elements than well rotted wet compost, and minimal fresh green elements.
The ingredients list is not set in stone; so use whatever is at hand. Nature usually provides exactly what’s needed seasonally from garden and kitchen. Green lawn clippings (not grass root-runners or seeds.) Crunchy, powdery desiccated leaf and twig bits. Weeds, pruned bits, fruit ‘n veg peels (except disease incubating potato peels. Personally I'm not keen on paper pulped from e.g. newspaper & toilet roll-cores, keeping in mind RSA's preference for 3rd world quality bonding glue, industrial bleach and crappy inks. Also tea bags are broken open and only tea leaves used.) Focus on good stuff swept up from your sidewalk like leaves and feathers.
Fresh ingredients include used tea leaves, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells. A handful or two of super mature well rotted, non root-burning vegan manure ( ... lol ... just checking if you're paying attention here, that should read herbivores ... as in plant eating animals) and/or slow release organic pellets. At a ratio of approximately 1:8 animal poop to plant matter (compost+leaf mulch.) Snip up some magnesium rich leaves and stems: beetroot, borage, calendula, especially calcium rich spekboom and potassium rich banana peels and anti-fungal daisy family marigold, calendula ... and allium family's onion, garlic, chives etc. Let all of this compost for a few weeks. Extract compost tea, the liquid byproduct of biodegrading process will be covered in future small space garden composting HOW TO blog)
Make sure leaf mulch collected is not poisonous (allelopathic.) Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms.
Recycle plastic, glass 'n paper rubbish that blows in; make sure they go to your local reclamation depot. Safely dispose of other wrappers and litter. Only use small 1.5cm sized bark chips or twigs that have been cooking away for at least a few months in compost heap. The larger bark bits produces too much tannin and ups PH acidity, toss those large bark chips back into compost heap to biodegrade a while longer.
Balanced and Robust: Nicely balanced slow release vs immediately available nutrients. Plants can only absorb so much a day, the rest goes to waste and is washed away in run off water and collectively ends up causing nitrate problems in rivers, dams and oceans.
Therefore less is more.
Your Compost is cooked, super rich. moist and full of earthworms (but not sharp, pungent smelling) and rearing to do some good in your garden ...
Add some more brittle dry old leaves and a small amount of super mature manure and mix up this ‘dry-ish’ brown compost mulch as you would fold together ingredients of a cake
... I wear gloves and use a large bucket as my mixing bowl; hand fork and trowel as wooden spoons .
When satisfied wet and dry is nicely muddled, water lightly.
Allow to stand for another day or two to become, well ... mulchy.
Before feeding: Add slow release organic pellets/granules/ mineral powders and Epsom salts, bonemeal, volcanic dust  after mulch has soaked.
Water plants well , and allow to drain properly for at least an hour. The TJUBES  are easily popped out of the CURTAIN growbags; specifically designed for quick maintenance and easy mobility.
If needs be, the CURTAIN growbag pockets are brushed clear of soil and tossed into washing machine for a quick wash.
Soil in TJUBE growbags will have subsided, most of organic matter has decomposed. More than an inch of space should be available between soil level and top of TJUBE growbag lip. If there isn’t sufficient room to add another inch of side dressing: Gently scrape about 2cm top soil out. Work without disturbing roots too much. Prune out dead stems and dead head old blooms as needed. Separate the soil from the pruned bits and useable organic debris. Toss the organic debris back into TJUBE, set aside the sandier topsoil to cover over fresher mulch-feed.
Add a handful of your bucketed compost-mulch and spread it evenly around stems. Plants should be arranged in the front half of TJUBE, so as to ‘lean out’ of CURTAIN bag. Now lightly ‘chicken scratch’ mulch into the surrounding soil. Work mulch-feed deeper into soil closer to the edges of the TJUBE growbag, away from stem and roots.
Cover over with sandy top-soil. Press down and lightly compact soil to support roots and stems. Pack TJUBES back into laundered CURTAIN bags and water plants generously. Spread rest of mulch bucket’s contents where needed in your Plantup-za hanging gardens:- BARREL style hanging growbags’ central maintenance chamber, OCTO TOWER & CUBE Ground bag styles..
Clean up, pack away tools.
Sit back relax and admire your handy work.
Quick stix, minimal mess, super easy.