Vegetables and Fruit forum: Vegetable Gardening Experiment

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Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
May 26, 2017 7:53 AM CST
Hi everyone.

I would like everyones input on what I am about to do as an experiment. Awhile ago, I posted a vegetable gardening tip from 1899, where my great great grandfather used a weed called Stinging Nettle to help plants grow. Here is part of the article:

"Nobody could understand why people with nearby gardens only had scrawny little plants, but the Pfeiffers had huge plants with cucumbers 40 cm. long. "Mr. Pfeiffer," they asked, "how do you do it? What do you do? Are you getting manure from the farmers?" At this time, of course, there was no artificial fertilizer. But I'll tell you what my clever father did. He kept lots of shabby old barrels in the garden. Near the garden was a little stream. Wherever Father saw nettles he picked them: in the woods, by the river, in the garden or the fields, everywhere. You know what nettles are? Wild plants that sting and burn your skin if you brush against them. Father pushed basketfuls of nettles into these old barrels, and brought 30 or 40 liters of water from the river to fill them up. He put on a lid and let the nettles ferment. We had to have the lid because the fermenting nettles smelled like an outhouse. He let it sit. When the fermenting was done, and the water was dark and dirty, but didn't smell so bad anymore, he took off the lid and dipped about 2 1/2 pints of it into a big watering can. This he diluted with pure stream water, and carefully poured on the ground around the stem. He was careful not to get any on the leaves because it would burn them. He never used it on his grafted roses, and he never used it undiluted. It would have been too strong. He used ten parts of water to one part nettle water.
His cauliflowers were so big you couldn't find a bag big enough to go around them. These he took to the Kaiser's rose garden to trade for rose cuttings. He grew all sorts of big vegetables this way. We had too much; so many we couldn't eat them all, even though we eventually fed 12 at our family table every day. So we gave a lot of our excess to friends. We had everything to cook: potatoes, tomatoes, and so many apples!"

This article came from www.familysearch.org, a church genealogy site. My experiment is that I am going to try what my Great Great Grandfather did by using Stinging Nettle to help vegetables grow. I was able to locate an online store that sold Stinging Nettle leaves by the pound. I ordered one pound today. It will arrive tomorrow. I will chart the plants growth by getting weekly pictures once the experiment starts and I will see if this tactic from 1899 works.

Any input on making the experiment better or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Wish me luck!

Jared
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
May 26, 2017 12:06 PM CST
It seems like any vegetation could be used.... Sounds like another compost tea recipe.
I've heard that adding an aquarium bubbler to the mix helps to create an environment that supports desirable microbes.

Good luck... Looking forward to hearing about side by side testing.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
May 26, 2017 12:10 PM CST
good luck!
similar idea to comfrey compost tea.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 26, 2017 12:43 PM CST
I am not sure non fresh nettle leaves will work as well as fresh nettle.
In the same manner dried pungent veggies are never as good as fresh.

My guess it is the chemicals in the Nettle that burn that make it a good fertilizer.
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
May 26, 2017 7:39 PM CST
Hi everyone.

@RpR, I understand what you are saying, however, getting fresh Stinging Nettle is very difficult in my area due to two reasons. First, theres not much. Second, they are a native plant and cannot be picked. I had to order them due to these circumstances.

I will be posting weekly pictures of the plants growth to see what happens.

Thanks!

Jared
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
May 27, 2017 7:20 AM CST
I guess the stinging nettles are good mineral accumulators like comfrey is. It sounds like a good experiment and we want to hear the results too. Thanks for keeping us posted.
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
May 29, 2017 8:32 AM CST
Hi everyone.

Alright, the experiment has started. I am uploading a picture of one of my three Acorn Squash plants. This is it today before I used the Stinging Nettle mixture.


Thumb of 2017-05-29/jnicholes/2fea0f


I will take daily pictures to chart their growth and I will upload another picture of it in a week.

Jared
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
May 29, 2017 6:34 PM CST
do you have another plant as a control?
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
May 30, 2017 8:39 AM CST
Hi there.

Yes I do. Here is what I am doing, I have made some changes to the plan.

I decided to use potatoes instead of the Acorn squash. I say this because I have a lot of potatoes I can use as a controlled group and a lot more for the experiment. Acorn squash I only have three of.

When I went out I noticed something, the 5 potatoes that didnt get the nettle water yesterday have not grown that much today, while the 2 potatoes I gave the nettle water actually had a sudden spike in growth. When I say spike, it looks like they grew about 1/2 an inch in one night and have a few more leaves. The same goes for my cucumbers, which were struggling before.

I could be wrong and I might just be seeing things. I got pictures of them and I am charting their growth now as well.

Anyway, a lot of the plants look a lot happier since I have used the nettle water.

Jared
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
Image
jnicholes
May 30, 2017 3:54 PM CST
Hi everyone.

I just wanted to show you these pictures.

This is my Acorn Squash yesterday when I added the Nettle Water.

Thumb of 2017-05-30/jnicholes/069c82

This is it today.

Thumb of 2017-05-30/jnicholes/e08a9f

As you can see, the acorn squash leaves grew very slightly, but the Acorn Squash growing on the plant grew larger and the flower is starting to open. These two pictures were taken within 36 hours of each other, and it IS the same plant.

I am not sure if the plant grows this fast normally or the nettle water is doing something to help it grow. Any thoughts?

Jared
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
May 31, 2017 4:58 PM CST
The plant looks stressed and not very happy.
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
May 31, 2017 6:10 PM CST
Hello Everyone.

@Newyorkrita, I see what you mean by that, I think the nettle water is giving them too much nutrients. It is possible. Then again, other plants like my Pumpkins are growing like weeds with the nettle water. I honestly do not know. I will continue the experiment with what you said in mind. If more plants get stressed, I will stop and conclude that the Nettle Water wont work whatsoever. Thanks for pointing that out.

Jared
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Jun 1, 2017 9:15 AM CST
Hi everyone,

Success so far! Except for the acorn squash, the other plants are growing like WEEDS! I am not kidding, my pumpkin plant almost doubled in size through this experiment. I will post further updates soon, but I think this tactic using nettle water works.

Jared
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jun 1, 2017 9:51 AM CST
Great!!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
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RickCorey
Jun 1, 2017 8:30 PM CST
Jared, maybe the unhappy plant just got more than it could stand at the time.

Maybe it would like a 1/2 dilution, or 1/3rd?
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Jun 1, 2017 8:38 PM CST
hi there.

@RickCorey, I think you are right about that. Then again, when I first planted the Acorn Squash, it was like this. I will take your advice anyway.

However, check this out, this is the growth my zucchini did in three days.

Thumb of 2017-06-02/jnicholes/70583b

Day 1

Thumb of 2017-06-02/jnicholes/d52f1c

Day 2

Thumb of 2017-06-02/jnicholes/54ae4c

Day three

This IS the same plant. Same mixture the Acorn Squash got.

Jared
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
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RickCorey
Jun 1, 2017 8:48 PM CST
>> when I first planted the Acorn Squash, it was like this.

Oh, that's different. It might be something totally unrelated, like disease or just severe stress. Even so, "they say" not to fertilize a sick plant.

>> check this out, this is the growth my zucchini did in three days.

Oh, yeah! Yowsuh! Rolling on the floor laughing

Thumb of 2017-06-02/RickCorey/6e9f17

Maybe I should plant some zucchini outside my beds, and use their foliage for mulch and compost! That's one thing they call 'Tyfon': a "compost crop". Also a forage crop.


"Stand back! I don't know how BIG this thing is going to get!"

(That's a Robin Williams quote. The full story is not-quite SFW.)


Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Jun 1, 2017 10:20 PM CST
I can't imagine that "nettle water" would be overwhelming a plant with too many nutrients.

Jared, are you giving your "control plants" an equal amount of regular watering as the ones that are getting the "nettle water" ?
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Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Jun 2, 2017 7:17 AM CST
Hello.

@Weedwhacker, to be honest, I forgot to make a control group. D'Oh!

Its still early in the experiment, so I can make one now. Other than that, I have been giving them the same amount of water.

Jared
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Jun 2, 2017 6:50 PM CST
Hello, Everyone.

I would like to apologize. I made a mistake in what I said awhile ago. I said I had potatoes for a controlled group. Those potatoes were actually ripe and harvested now. I no longer have them as a control group. I also failed to make a controlled group for each kind of plant. I will make a new controlled group for each plant now.

Sorry about the miscommunication, I just realized it today.

Jared

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