Secret Ingredients For Exceptional Growth

28 07 2013


Welcome back to Kitchen Stadium for a special edition of Iron Chef… In The Garden.

Let’s listen in on the Chairman as he announces the secret ingredient.

Today's secret ingredient is... seaweed and fish guts!!



Not to be rude, but what the heck are you talking about? And what does this have to do with Iron Chef?

Well, I have a small confession. These ingredients have absolutely nothing to do with Iron Chef. You can say I’m full of fertilizer. Actually, these secret ingredients are fertilizer. They have everything to do with turning your plants into fine, large specimens with the biggest harvests.

Think of Warren Buffet in the financial world, Oprah in the entertainment world, Wilt Chamberlain on the dating scene. Side note- 20,000 women, Wilt? It’s amazing you could even walk, let alone run down the basketball court…


I think I know why he’s smiling… That’s right. He must have a garden…

That’s how well your plants will fare with periodic feeding… in the garden. And to clarify, when I say fish guts and seaweed I mean hydrolyzed fish and liquid kelp.

What exactly are these? Let’s start with hydrolyzed fish. Either whole fish or fish scraps are processed with enzymes to break down some of the more complex proteins. Unlike fish emulsion, it is not heated. The end result looks like a peanut butter milkshake. But for God’s sake don’t drink it. And don’t pour it on your plants.

Wait a second… isn’t this supposed to be fertilizer? Why aren’t we putting it on the plants?

We will be putting fertilizer on the plants. And I guess we are pouring or spraying it on the plants. But we aren’t POURING the fertilizer on the plant. Too much of a good thing will end up burning the plant- undiluted this is more like the creature’s acid blood in the movie Alien. It needs to be diluted to prevent harming the tender leaves. Usually 1 tablespoon per gallon of water is plenty.

Liquid kelp is a concentrate of kelp harvested from the ocean and liquified. The same rules apply to this fertilizer. As tempted as you may be to drink an oily black-green liquid, don’t do it. Only 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, please. The kelp actually smells more like fish than the hydrolyzed fish. Ever hear the one about the blind guy that walked by the fish market?… um, never mind.

Hydrolyzed fish and kelp-- Just a shot of each makes the perfect drink for your plants

Hydrolyzed fish and kelp– Just a shot of each makes the perfect drink for your plants

How do you apply this fertilizer? You should give foliar feeding a try. Instead of (or in addition to) watering or spraying the ground around the plant, spray the leaves. More of the fertilizer is absorbed by the plant using this method, leading to better results. And how well does it work? Check out a recent shot of tomatoes below.


A special thank you goes out to my coworker Mike G., who introduced me to these products. Thanks Mike! PS- you can use me as a reference.

Trashy Peanuts

21 07 2013

“Listen here young man. I want you to take those Peanuts and throw them in the garbage. Right now.”

What a great idea!

I grew potatoes in a trash can before. It was a fun experiment, and the harvest was fun and easy. Peanuts require extended periods of warm weather (at least 120 to 130 frost free days), and the Rubbermaid container will help the plants get a good/warmer start. And you know what they say, everybody loves a nut.


Ahem, don’t you mean that everybody loves a legume?

What the heck is a legume? A peanut is a legume. Despite the name, a peanut is not a pea and is not a nut. It is actually related to other legumes including beans and lentils.

Is Mr. Peanut aware of his origins? Actually, I have always wondered about the origins of Mr. Peanut. I mean, a peanut with a top hat, cane, and monocle is not an everyday occurrence. I think it looks like a costume. It’s as though he is a superhero with a secret identity.

Off topic: What is Mr Peanut’s secret Identity? That monocle had me thinking of Colonel Mustard and Colonel Klink. But I doubt that a Colonel Peanut would willingly give up his rank.

Colonel_Mustard-2 colonel-klink

The top hat is the real giveaway. And after a few Scooby snacks in the back of The Mystery Machine, it’s time to unmask Mr Peanut. It turns out he is… Mr Monopoly?!?!?!


“And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

But you know how truth can be stranger than fiction. Below is the true, and humorous, story of the peanut mascot’s origin.

Back to the peanuts. Be sure you have plenty of warm growing time. In the case of Central Pennsylvania, that meant starting the plants indoors several weeks before soil temperature reached 65 degrees. Also grow the peanuts in a light, loamy soil. The plants get blossoms that eventually insert themselves into the soil in a process called pegging. (As a warning, do not search the term ‘pegging’ without including the term ‘peanut’. That’s a mistake you’ll only make once. Trust me, you don’t want to see the results. Then again, maybe you do if that’s your sort of thing. I sure didn’t.)

peanut02 peanut01

Anyway, warm air, light soil, and some room to grow. I have the plants spaced fairly closely in the can, but there is enough room for peanuts to grow. In no time at all, (or 4-5 months, whichever is longer), you should have a fine peanut harvest.