Monday, April 28, 2008
Free Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer
Get free organic Nitrogen fertilizer and help our earth at the same time.
Instead of buying commercial Nitrogen fertilizers, first try planting a few legumes in your plant beds or container garden. Legumes have the ability to naturally convert atmospheric nitrogen (nitrogen dioxide) into nitrate, an organic form of nitrogen that plants can use. Peas, beans, clover, lentils, peanuts and alfalfa are a few examples of legumes.
By using legumes to fix nitrogen in our soil we are also helping out our planet. Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant. It is a major component of smog, and can irritate the lungs, lower resistance to respiratory infection, and increase sensitivity for people with asthma and bronchitis. Some of the major contributors to nitrogen dioxide are automobiles and electric power plants. Additionally, home heaters and gas stoves can also emit nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen oxides also help form acid rain, which eventually runoff into our sewers and water channels. These increased levels of nitrogen in our bodies of water lead to explosive algae growth. This is problematic because algae competes with natural grasses in the water beds. Furthermore, algae overgrowth depletes oxygen supply that oysters, clams and other marine life rely on for survival.
In My Garden:
This is my first year planting legumes with my other plants. I chose to use edamame plants (a.k.a. "soy bean" plants) because edamame beans are tasty and they have some unique properties. For example, edamame beans "contain all of the amino acids needed to make a complete protein, just like meat" (Mayo Clinic). Edamame beans "also contain isoflavones, a plant-based compound that may reduce the risk of some types of cancer" (Mayo Clinic).
I planted an edamame plant in the same container as my avocado tree. The avocado seems to like the edamame's company. My avocado plant now has several new baby leaves. I cannot be sure it is because of the edamame's presence, but I can confidently say that my tree is performing better than last year, and that the edamame's presence is at least not harming my avocado plant.
Early Native Americans have used companion planting methods to grow corn, beans and squash. The Iroquois referred to these crops as "The Three Sisters," and considered them to be special gifts from the Great Spirit (Dodson). To read more about the Legend of the Three Sisters click here.
The corn serves as a support structure for the beans.
The beans provide "nutrients" to the other plants.
The squash acts as mulch and preserves moisture in the soil. Its prickly vines also deters raccoons from ravaging the corn (Dodson).
Dodson, Mardi. "Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources-Ancient Companions." National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. available at http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/complant.html (last visited Apr. 28, 2008).
Fahrenthold, David. "EPA Told to Set Timeline for Cutting Nitrogen Pollution," Washington Post. 26 Mar. 2008: B02. available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/25/AR2008032502409.html (last visited Apr. 27, 2008).
Mayo Clinic. "Legumes: Using Beans, Peas and Lentils Instead of Meat." CNN.17 Jun. 2005. available at http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/NU/00260.html (last visited Apr. 28, 2008).
"Nitrogen Dioxide. " Clean Air Trust. available at http://www.cleanairtrust.org/nitrogendioxide.html (last visited Apr. 27, 2008).
"Nitrogen Cycle," Soil Food Web, Inc. available at http://www.soilfoodweb.com/ (last visited Apr. 27, 2008).