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Archive for the ‘Fertilizer’ Category

Blaze Climbing Rose in Full Bloom on Corner Fence

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Blaze climbing rose, 3 years old

Several years ago I had found a bare-root Blaze climbing rose on sale for about $3. I didn’t really want a red rose in my mostly pink, blue, purple and white garden, but the price was right so I decided to find a place for it. There is a 10′ section of fence on the outside of our yard along the public sidewalk that gets good morning sun so I thought I’d try it there.

It didn’t do much that first year but the second year it put on quite a show. Nothing like this year though. Since climbing roses bloom on the vertical shoots that come off the horizontal stems, I trained the rose into horizontal planes and secured them to the fence. This spring it sent up so many shoots, all loaded with buds.

When I saw all those buds I knew I would need to feed that rose well. I put a lot of compost around the base of it. Now every time it gets watered, it gets fed. Also the compost helps to hold down the weeds and keep the roots moist. A win, win, win situation. I got our compost from the city landfill, but bags of composted steer or cow manure will work well too.

Too bad this rose doesn’t bloom all summer. It will have it’s glory days now in the late spring and then will have smaller bloom times off and on through the summer.

I like that it fills up a big, blank spot and doesn’t take up much room since it’s attached to the fence so securely. Right now it is a show stopper though.

Spring Gardening – Getting Started

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Raised beds with vegetables beginning to grow.

Do you want to have a garden?

Do you have a plot of land that needs clearing off so that you can either put in a little garden or raised bed boxes for a garden? Whether this plot of land is covered in grass or nothing but weeds, you probably don’t want to have to saturate the whole area with an herbicide and then wait till everything is dead to clear it off so you can actually plant a garden.

An easy way to get started is to till the area, either with a tiller (which you can borrow or rent) or with a shovel. A shovel takes longer but is still very effective. After the area has been turned over and tilled, take a garden rake (a leaf rake might work but not very well) and pull the weeds and grass out of the dirt. As you rake them out, just discard them in the trash and not the compost.

If the area is covered in good grass lawn, then it might be better to lift the sod and transplant it somewhere else in your yard or share it with someone else who might be able to use it.

After you’ve gotten out as many grass and weed strands and roots as possible (the more the better since it cuts down on so much work later) then it’s time to either:

Prepare the soil for the garden by turning in some composted cow or steer manure, which you can buy pretty cheap at WalMart or Lowe’s etc. If you heavy clay soil or very sandy soil, you can add some peat moss (also available at WalMart and Lowe’s). Also, it is a good idea to add a balanced fertilizer at this time. Mix all of t

OR

Build raised beds for your garden. After getting the raised beds in place and making sure they are pretty level, it’s easy to put a layer of newspaper in the bed to discourage weeds from coming up from below. The newspaper will break down and become part of the soil. It’s possible to fill the raised bed with garden soil, but much better to use a combination of other things to create a soil that is light, drains well and won’t pack down.

Some of the things you can use to create a “soil” for you raised beds is: sawdust (no, it won’t hurt the plants), washed sand, perlite, peat moss, compost, composted manure, straw (but it may have seeds), shredded newspaper, and a balanced fertilizer, (see previous post for more information on fertilizers). We also add the polymers from gently used baby diapers (wetnot dirty) as they keep moisture in the soil really well.

Raised vegetable bed with tomatoes and corn

To keep weeds from growing in the pathways between the raised bed boxes or the garden rows, it’s a good idea to lay down some layers of newspapers and then cover that with wood chips.

All done. Now you’re ready to plant. Wasn’t that easy?

Improving Plant Growth With Less Fertilizer? Great Products For The Garden

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Product Samples To Test In Our Garden

Last fall I wrote a post about a product I’d heard about called “Blend” (see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-BE ) and all it could do to improve the qualities of soil. The company that produces it is located in Arizona and since we were down there for a wedding reception, we took time to tour their facility and learn a little more about them.

It was an amazing place, much larger than I had imagined. I learned that Blend is only one of many products they produce to improve and condition the soil and to feed plants.

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Mixers At The Lizuid Fertilizer Plant In Arizona

There are mixtures that stimulate the root growth (for stronger, healthier plants) and products that improve the uptake of nutrients (macro and micro). There are pesticides made with Thyme oil. Plants need such a variety of nutrients and most soils don’t provide all that plants need. Most fertilizers provide the basic  Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash (the numbers on the fertilizer containers) but not the many other nutrients required by plants.

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Preparing My Samples

They were generous and kind enough to give me some samples to bring home to try on our garden. I am so excited to be able to use them, since I’ve heard such good things about them. At this time they only sell wholesale and their products are used all over the world, even China. (Isn’t it nice to know that China actually buys something from us?)

Hopefully, they can be persuaded to retail some of their magic plant serum to some of us here in the U.S.

I will be posting pictures of plants grown with (and even some grown without) the different additives. It will be interesting to see how it does in our garden.

Composting…SO Important For The Garden

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Finished compost

To some people, composting is a totally boring subject, but to a gardener who is interested in increasing the production and beauty of the garden, it is a very fascinating topic.

So much has been written on “How To” that it can seem a little  intimidating. It really is easy, and so worth the effort.

I’ve found a site that is all about composting and has some excellent information. It breaks it all down and de-mystifies the whole process. Check it out at: http://www.composterconnection.com/site/how-to.html

Earthworms…Work Horses Of Garden Soil Through Vermicomposting

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Earthworm in the garden

Earthworms, just doing what they do, are a great asset in the garden. They take our kitchen and garden scraps and turn them into beautiful, rich fertilizer/dirt.  This process is known as “vermicomposting”. The castings from the worms are rich in micro-organisms and it enriches the soil and makes nutrients available to the plants. The castings also improve the texture and structure of the soil, and increases the soil’s ability to hold moisture.

As they burrow through the soil, they aerate it, improving the drainage and making room for oxygen. This aeration also makes it easier for root growth in plants.

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Red Worms in Soil

Earthworms can be grown in their own bed. This way they are contained and concentrated and it’s possible to harvest the castings and use them in the garden as fertilizer. If you need to use the worms for something other than vermicomposting, such as for fishing or for pet food, then this method might work better for you as you wouldn’t need to disturb garden plants to get the worms. Growing worms in beds or containers can be a little more difficult because of problems with climate. They like a mild, moist environment, not too cold, not too hot. If you live where temperatures are extreme, then your worm bed should be indoors for protection.

So far, we have grown composting worms directly in the garden, where they burrow and multiply and make lots and lots of castings. The earthworm’s needs are simple. They need food and they need moisture and they need to be able to go deep enough into the soil to avoid cold and heat. We live in Zone 6, where it gets cold in the winter, yet we have lots and lots of earthworms. Our soil is frozen right now and we would have to wait till it thawed in the spring to add worms to it.

Saving the scraps while preparing food in the kitchen will usually be enough to feed a pretty good size garden bed. Also, the scraps in the vegetable garden can be used. I do a lot of trimming of vegetables before bringing them inside. These can be added back into the soil, to feed the worms living there. If you don’t feel you have enough scraps to feed them, sprinkle some raw oatmeal, peat moss, corn meal or coffee grounds on top of the soil. They’ll find it. Don’t add more food than they will use in a couple of days though, it will make the soil sour smelling.

Worms have to have moisture to live. If you live in a very dry climate like we do, then keeping the soil moist (not wet) is important. If the soil dries out a little on top, the worms can go deeper for moisture. Be sure to not over-water though.

Red worms and night crawler are good composting worms. These are usually sold as fishing worms and can be bought in the sporting department of WalMart and other places. If you have a large garden though, it is much cheaper to order them online. When you get your worms, just dump them out and they’ll find their way into the soil. (If there are a lot of fat Robins sitting around though, you might want to toss a little soil on them for protection.)

Here are a few sites to check out:

http://www.worms4earth.com/redwigglers.htm

http://www.earthworms4sale.com/redworms.php

http://www.redwigglerworms.com/ 

 

 

Can I Compost?

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Compost material - household waste

Composting….who does it and why?

I know who compost. Gardeners do, that’s who. To a gardener, compost is black gold. Compost is used to enrich poor soil, to add organic matter to soil that will continue to break down and become black loam. It will continue to enrich the soil and nourish plants. Compost tea is the best tonic for your plants and about the best liquid fertilizer you can use. Compost is also used to mulch around plants, to keep weeds from growing, to keep the roots of plants cool, to hold in moisture and to, again, nourish the plant. It is possible to buy compost from garden centers, but if you need a lot of compost, like we do, then you’d better have some of the yellow gold to buy that black gold.

On the other hand, making your own compost is relatively inexpensive, even free, and it’s pretty easy to make. Most of what you need to create your own compost is available in great quantities, grass clippings, trimmings from the garden, dead leaves, house hold vegetable and fruit scraps and if you are really lucky, farm animal manure. (Just so you know, cow manure is better than horse manure, because they have more stomachs to break down their food, and there aren’t as many surviving seeds to spread

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Partially composted material

around in your garden. At least that is what I’ve been told)

For those who are into recycling, this is a perfect way to recycle these wasted products, instead of taking up space in our landfills. Actually a word about that…Cities and towns are getting smarter about that as well, and many are composting the plant material picked up by their crews, and either using it in city parks etc. or selling it back to the public to use in their yards and gardens. We are fortunate enough to live where that is being done, and the price isn’t too bad. We hadn’t yet made enough compost for our yard, so last spring we bought quite a bit from the city.

Compost projects don’t have to be huge though, you can start small and still get a lot of compost. Since we took up almost all of our lawn and planted the entire yard (1/4 acre) in fruit trees, perennial and herb beds and raised beds for vegetables, we really needed a lot of compost. We didn’t have enough grass clippings (remember, we took up almost all of our lawn) so when we would see landscape workers, mowers etc. filling up a truck with grass clippings, we would just ask them to dump the load in our yard. This not only got us a great supply of beautiful green clippings, but it also saved them a trip to the dump. Leaves, raked and bagged and left on the curb for the city to pick up, are an important ingredient in compost.

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Finished compost - Black Gold

I’ll write more in depth about composting later, but the important thing to think about is…can you do it? Are you up for gathering the organic materials you need, for turning the heap occasionally and spraying it with water if it dries out?

If you do compost, then you are a gardener, because composters are gardeners.

 

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Fertilize For Success

Well fed trees, vegetables and flowers

Feeding the plants in your yard, and this includes grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, is crucial for success. Learning how to feed them properly is really just common sense and a little know-how.

Type “Fertilizer” into the search bar on the right for a list of the posts on ways to feed the plants in your yard.

 

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