Are you interested in GARDENING?  Then you might find one of these Homestead.org articles handy:

Farmers of Fungi by Dustin Eirdosh

Thyme is on Your Side (Yes, it is) by Gay Ingram

Got the Blues?  Itís a Good Thing, if They're Blueberries!  by Ed Mashburn

Trees: Bringing It All Together by Gin Getz

A Backyard Market Garden by Kevin Wright

Rose Mallow: Southern Belle Knocks Your Socks Off in August by Neil Shelton

Your Medicinal Garden: Ten Herbs to Plant This Spring by Karyn Sweet

In Favor of a Naturalized Lawn by Trendle Ellwood

Growing Tomatoes and Peppers in Winter by Regina Anneler

Mineral-Rich Weeds by Lisa M. Maloney

Iris Psuedocorus - Exotica on the Cheap by Neil Shelton

Becoming a Master Gardener By Christi Sweaney

A Walk through a Shakespearian Garden by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Blackthumb! Helpful Hints for the Cultivationally Challenged by Sheri Dixon

Grub in a Tub: How to Fight the High Cost of Groceries by Neil Shelton

 

 

Look to the Weeds by Diana Barker

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Dallisgrass indicates low calcium, very high magnesium, and high potassium levels.  Dandelions indicate very low levels of calcium, and very high levels of chlorine and potassium.  Hop Clover and Oxalis indicate very low levels of calcium and high levels of magnesium.  Prostrate Spurge indicates low calcium levels and very high levels of chlorine, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.  Purslane and Mustard indicate an abundance of phosphorus.  Red Clover indicates an excess of potassium.  Redroot Pigweed indicates an abundance of nitrogen.  White Clover indicates very high levels in chlorine, magnesium, and sodium.  Wild Garlic indicates very low calcium and bacterial count, and very high levels of chlorine, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.  Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) indicates low potassium.

 

Wild Strawberry

Soil can be depleted of a needed mineral or have an excessive amount of a mineral and need to become more balanced, eliminating many growing problems.  Calcium doesnít move freely within the plant, so the first symptoms of low calcium will appear in new growth.  Chlorosis begins first at the leaf edges and then moves inward.  Terminal buds become distorted.  Young leaves will first turn yellow, then brown.  Low calcium levels cause tomatoes to develop blossom-end rot and lettuce tip-burn.  Low calcium is found in acidic soils, sandy soils, soils that contain excessive levels of magnesium or potassium.  Temporary problems may be due to drought or excessive moisture.  Eggshells or oyster shells will strengthen plants in low calcium areas. 

Low copper levels will cause young leaves to become chlorite in a strange way.  Leaf center yellows while the veins and leaf margins remain green for a while.  Shoot tips die, terminal leaves become brown or leaves may fail to develop.  Common in muck or peat soils, soils with too much lime, nitrogen, phosphate, phosphorus, or zinc. 

Low-iron chlorosis begins at the top of the plants and works itís way down.  Shoots may die back and the fruit become discolored.  Alkaline soils or soils with excess aluminum  or phosphorus can cause low iron levels.  Iron is important in photosynthesis and is a catalyst in plant respiration and iron utilization.

Magnesium moves freely within plants, so a magnesium deficiency will start in the lower leaves, discoloring the veins.  First they turn yellow, then orange, and finally brown.  Leaves will feel brittle, thin, and sometimes cup upward.  Magnesium deficiency is found in wet, acidic, or sandy soils, also in soils with high concentrations of calcium, fertilizers, and potash.  Magnesium is vital for photosynthesis, facilitates the use of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.  It cleanses the plant of toxins that happen as a by-product of its own metabolism, and itís needed in the formation of proteins.

Manganese deficiency may be hard to diagnose because itís similar to iron deficiency.  Chlorosis is most severe at the top of the plant, with yellowing of the leaves first appearing near the leaf margins and developing into a V-shaped pattern.  Leaves will then develop tan or gray spots.  These spots are the major difference between manganese and iron deficiency.  Manganese deficiency most often occurs in alkaline soils high in humus or soils with a pH of 6 or more.  Manganese is a catalyst in the process of plant nutrition and encourages the growth and maturation of plants.

Nitrogen deficiency will cause plants to turn pale green, then yellow.  It begins at the tip of leaves at the bottom of plants, especially older leaves, and works its way in the direction of the main stem.  Yellowing  gradually spreads up the plant to the top.  Found in very sandy soils or soils low in organic material, also excessively wet or leached soil.  Nitrogen regulates vital chemical reactions, needed in stem and leaf growth and induces rapid green growth. 

In the early stages of phosphorus deficiency the plants look almost too healthy.  Growth is normal but undersized.  Plants become dark green frequently changing to purple, especially the  undersides of leaves. Sometimes stems also take on this color.  Leaves then yellow in the final stages.  The plant has poor flowering and fruiting habits.  Most common in cold, wet or very acidic (below pH5) soils and very alkaline soils (above pH 7.3).  Phosphorus in needed for root formation, flowering, fruiting and ripening. 

Goldenrod

In potassium deficiency, the older leaves become mottled or spotted, edges become dry and scorched.  Dead spots  begin to appear, the stems are weak, root systems poor, and fruit ripens unevenly.  Potassium deficiency causes a reduction in disease resistance and makes the plant less storable.  It is more common in sandy or acidic soils, also where there are excess calcium or magnesium levels in the soil.  Potassium is important for the formation of flowers, fruit, leaves and growing tip.  Potassium helps with photosynthesis at low light level and in internal water regulation.  Potassium improves flavor, fruit, vegetable and flower color.  It also provides protection from insect damage, disease, and frost.

Sulfur deficiency closely resembles nitrogen deficiency.  The plants turn pale green, the effects show up first in  young growth.  Leaves turn yellow but they don't dry out, and stems are weak.  Legumes are most affected.  Sandy or very wet soils, and soils containing excessive amounts of nitrogen are the most common soil types with a potassium deficiency.  Together with nitrogen it makes protoplasm for plant cells.

A zinc deficiency can be similar to a nitrogen deficiency with rolled leaf margins.  Chlorosis shows up first in  young leaves, which are also reduced in size.  Leaves are closely spaced, forming rosettes, and may be deformed.  There is poor nitrogen formation in legumes.  Soils that are sandy and acidic or  alkaline and rich in humus, or excessively high in phosphates, nitrogen, calcium, or aluminum will most often be zinc deficient.  Zinc aids in the formation of growth hormones, protein synthesis, seed and grain production, and plant maturation. 

The observant farmer and gardener will notice subtle changes in the weed populations as the soil changes.  As the soil improves, chickweed, chicory, common groundsel, common horehound, and lambs quarter become the dominant weeds.  However, if the daisy, wild carrot, mugwort, common mullein, wild parsnip, wild radish, and biennial wormwood become dominant, thatís a sign of the soilís low fertility and can be corrected.  The addition of well-balanced compost, organic manures, and other fertilizers together with certain tillage and drainage practices may be required to return the soil back to a healthy, well balanced, and productive soil.  

There will always be a battle between man and weed, but knowing that weeds can be used not only as a soil indicator, but also the flower of many weeds provide essential nectar and pollen, the foods needed by beneficial insects to complete their life cycle.  Most insect pests would actually prefer to dine on weeds rather than your deliberately planted crops, if given the choice, so weeds can be good companion plants, and last, but not least, theyíre edible.  I can never defeat the weed, so I must live with the weed.  Now I have an excuse for not spending hours pulling out the weeds in the garden.  Now I can spend time wandering in my blended garden enjoying both plants and weeds.  They are rebels, just like me. 

 

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