A good garden begins with good soil, as all gardeners know, and yet it's so easy to overlook the soil's needs and concentrate instead on the plants themselves, which give far more satisfaction than tending the dirt beneath them. In the past I've been guilty here too, but this year I have vowed to properly care for and nourish my garden's soil. So far I've already seen plenty of positive results: despite the abysmal spring weather, in fact, all the spring vegetables thrived. Our peas, lettuce, strawberries, and radishes have been abundant this year; we're now harvesting zucchini and waiting for the green tomatoes to ripen, and for the beans to grow.
I started tending the soil in the garden back in February, well before planting time, when I enriched it with horse manure and compost (didn't I tell you that tending plants is more enjoyable?). After planting the garden, I made a liquid fertilizer from stinging nettles that is widely used in biodynamical agriculture, and I used that twice a week during the main growing and leafing time in the month of June.
To make a nettle fertilizer you need to harvest stinging nettles when they are at their growing peak, just before they reach full bloom (don't forget to protect yourself with gloves and a long-sleeved shirt!). Steep the nettles in water - 1 kg of nettles to 10 liters of water - in a container with a lid (or a salvaged roof tile ...) for 10-14 days until they decompose (the hotter the weather, the less time you need), and your fertilizer is ready. Strain the brownish-green liquid, bottle it, and use twice a week in a 1 : 10 water dilution. Again, tending plants is a lot more fun than tending the soil, and this nettle fertilizer proves my point: it smells really bad. But no worries, it's all part of the plan, and a right good plan at that: a free fertilizer that basically makes itself, and nourishes the plants.
(for more details information on stinging nettle liquid fertilizer see here).