Grow Your Own Nitrogen

Grow Your Own Nitrogen

Soil & Compost
Nitrogen (N) helps plants use carbohydrates to gain energy, like certain foods we eat help us to gain energy. Nitrogen controls how plants take their form and how they function inside, and nitrogen helps plants make protein that help them grow strong and healthy. Humans and animals benefit from eating vegetables and plants that are rich in nitrogen because proteins are passed on to humans and animals when they eat vegetables and plants. Leguminous plants such as beans, peas, clover, alfalfa and vetch actually generate nitrogen in the soil. Rhizobia bacteria that grow on the roots of these plants take nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plant. In turn, the plant gives the Rhizobia the carbohydrates they need to grow. This give and take between different…
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Organic Fertilizers

Organic Fertilizers

Soil & Compost
When used in reference to fertilizers, the word organic generally means that the nutrients contained in the product are derived solely from the remains or a by-product of an organism. Cottonseed meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, manure and sewage sludge are examples of organic fertilizers. Urea is a synthetic organic fertilizer, an organic substance manufactured from inorganic materials. When packaged as fertilizers, organic products have the fertilizer ratio stated on the package label. Some organic materials, particularly composted manures and sludges, are sold as soil conditioners and do not have a nutrient guarantee stated on the package, although small amounts of nutrients are present. Some organic fertilizers are high in one of the three major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, or potash,) but low or zero in the other two. Some are…
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Healthy Soil Basics

Healthy Soil Basics

Soil & Compost
Soil Fertility First of all, I have to say I am sorry for the subtitle. ;) To make a living on the internet, you have to make use of proper keywords. But it makes it sound like we're trying to get the soil pregnant... just had to laugh at that one. Seriously, soil fertility is concerned with the resident holding power of soil to provide nutrition in satisfactory amounts and in proper balance for the growth of your plants when the other growth factors like light, moisture, and temperature and the physical condition of the soil are appropriate. Soil fertility is one facet of the soil - plant relationship, namely plant growth, with reference to plant nutrients available in soil. A fertile soil is considered to be one that delivers…
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Organic Gardening and Bugs

Organic Pest & Disease Control, Soil & Compost
I have focused on the soil for the last (large) number of years always hoping to get it just right, to have an exceptional year. Truth is, as I re-examine this idea, I have begun to realize that I want to validate something; many things. Time spent. Composting. Hauling off every single bag of leaves and grass clippings I have found on every curb I drive by. Tediously pulling and fighting bermuda grass. Reading and studying. Hours spent poking through every single inch of the many gardens' soil I have started, nurtured and left behind. Perhaps a better mulch would be the secret. Maybe crop rotation would prove to be the secret ingredient, even for the home garden. While you won't fool the insect pests for one minute, the soil…
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Blossom End Rot

Container Gardening, Organic Gardening, Organic Pest & Disease Control
Blossom end rot on tomatoes Photograph by David B. Langston, University of Georgia Tomatoes grown in containers and indeterminate (vining) heirloom tomatoes can be more susceptible to Blossom End Rot (BER) that is caused by an inability to adequately uptake calcium from the soil. This condition is more likely caused by fluctuating moisture levels rather than a deficiency of calcium in the soil. But, it can also be caused by an excess of nitrogen, a pH out of range of 6.5 (ideal for calcium uptake), or water logged roots that don't have proper drainage. If your fruit begins to get the telltale tan to brownish spots on the bottom, pick off and discard the affected tomatoes. Then make sure the plants are well mulched with dried grass clippings, straw, black…
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Identify Your Soil Type

Identify Your Soil Type

Soil & Compost
Soils are generally described according to the predominant type of soil particle present - sand, silt, or clay. By conducting a simple soil test, you can easily identify your soil type. You may want to repeat this test with several different soil samples from your lawn and garden. Fill a quart jar about 1/3 full with topsoil and add water until the jar is almost full. Screw on the lid and shake the mixture vigorously, until all the clumps of soil have dissolved. Now set the jar on a windowsill and watch as the larger particles begin to sink to the bottom. In a minute or two the sand portion of the soil will have settled to the bottom of the jar (see illustration). Mark the level of sand on…
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March Gardening Calendar

Flower Gardening, Growing Food, Organic Gardening, Organic Pest & Disease Control, Soil & Compost, Year Round Gardening
The gardening calendar for March provides a list of recommended food growing and gardening chores and tips. It is time to venture outdoors for some serious organic gardening! The biggest focus this month is, "When can I DO something?" If you have been asking yourself this question, the answer is a LOT! March is the month to really get started growing organic food. First thing you really need to know is the last date you can expect frost in your area. Consult the growing zone maps to determine your garden's date of expected last frost. To prepare soil for spring planting you need to know some things about your garden's soil. Do you know your soil type? Your soil's pH? Need to identify your soil type? You can also learn…
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Farmers Are Flocking to Manure

Farmers Are Flocking to Manure

Farm Animals, Organic Gardening, Small Scale Farming, Soil & Compost
The closest thing I can find to a directory on getting local manure is CraigsList. I am sure if you look hard enough you can find a location or farmer in your area that will happily supply you with enough manure to use for home organic gardening Then, I ran across this article, Why Farmers are Flocking to Manure that throws out this common statistic... "It has taken us about 100 years to reduce soil organic matter to dangerously low levels from about 5 percent, on average, to below 2 percent." That blog article was adapted from the book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind" So they are running out of chemical fertilizer. Go Figure. And how fast could our commercial farming industry make the move to organic farming?…
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Using Worm Castings For Your Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Using Worm Castings For Your Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Vermicomposting
Worm castings are one of the few available resources today that offer numerous proven benefits while offering no bad side effects. Not like pesticides and fertilizers with special hazardous handling advice, worm castings promote plants and root development without the side effects of ingesting malicious chemicals. Compost and worm castings are not one in the same.. Instead they are a biological process that takes place within the worm's digestive method. In fact composted material is what is actually fed to many worms in order to generate worm castings. [caption id="attachment_3140" align="alignright" width="300"] earthworm castings can be collected from your yard after a good rain.[/caption] This brings me to a second point that the worms should be cultivated in a controlled environment where the temperature is above seventy degrees Fahrenheit in…
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Soil and Tomatoes

Organic Gardening, Soil & Compost
Kacper is just singing our song! Got this from him in the mail today... "You must see this because if you don't have great soil, all the other "tricks" I can teach you really won't mean a thing. It's really all about the soil." On Garden Web there is an anacronym, IALBTC... "It all leads back to compost" Whichever way you look at it, it says the same thing, organic gardening is alll about feeding the soil that feeds the plant that feeds you. Kacper's new video... Effective Micronutrients - Have Amazing Soil! And while you're there, check out his 'About' page, it is touching. Do any of you have a grandpa like that? I did! He was a cool gardener, but admittedly not the tomato expert in our family.…
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