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Fertilizing the Organic Way

Times are changing and many of us are rethinking how we treat the ground that God has given us.  There are many types of organic fertilizers that we can use on our lawns and gardens, as well as, flowerbeds and trees.

Organics don’t work as fast or as long as the conventional types of fertilizers, but they are more Earth-friendly.  If you set up an application routine with your organic fertilizers, you will have beautiful plantings.

Here are a few of the organics that I have personally used:

Corn gluten meal which is a pre emergence control for weed seeds, apply as early in the spring as possible

Blood meal is an organic nitrogen source which is great for side dressing vegetable  like corn, or leafy vegetable that need more nitrogen for top growth.  This has an extra added benefit for repelling deer and rabbits temporarily

Kelp meal contains 60 trace minerals, 14 vitamins, plant growth regulators, enzymes, and hormones.  Kelp has been shown to improve seed germination, root and plant growth, and overall health of plants.

Bone meal provides 12% phosphorous, 22% calcium and 4 % nitrogen which produce a strong healthy root system

Compost and manure which is great for flowers, vegetable, and fruits.  I like to use this around my rhubard.  I usually put a good coating down in the fall, but spring works too.  This is a valuable source of organic matter, and will help to improve drainage.  Nutrients are slow release

Rock phosphate supplies phosphorous which is needed by all plants for cell enlargement and division, photosynthesis, and respiration.  It will also promote early root formation and growth.  If you ever notice a purple tinge on your plant leaves you may have a phosphorus deficiency

Milorganite™ is a slow release organic nitrogen with extra iron which makes your lawn dark green and very lush.  We apply this to the lawn every 10 weeks, and it is safe to use around children and pets

I have also tried out the Espoma™ products: Plantone, Rosetone, Treetone, Hollytone.  I have had great results with these products because it takes the guess work out of having to have all the above products.

Another product I like to recommend to you is Ohio Earth Products, ReVita™ Lawn and Garden Natural Fertilizers.  They also use a lot of the individual products above and blend them together so that applying them is made easier for you.  These products will stimulate root growth, enliven green color, and enhances resistance to stress such as drought.

So, you can just call me your guinea pig, because I am always trying out new and old products to see what works best, so you don’t waste your hard earned dollars.

I encourage you to write me soon with any of your questions, so I can hit the topics that concern you the most.

Happy Spring (and don’t pull too many muscles)

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Gardening: Planning & Planting Basics

If you love to know what you are eating, the best way is to raise your own vegetables.  If you have never tasted a tomato or cucumber picked fresh out of the garden, well you are in for a real treat my friends.

When you are just starting, I suggest to do it small and get the feel of it.  Try planting a few different tomato varieties, some peppers, cucumbers and of course some lettuce, kale, or whatever other greens you like.  I have always suggested a salad garden for the first timers. This way you will not get overwhelmed.

Let’s start by finding the perfect place.  All of the suggested plants enjoy a very sunny location, and close to a water supply.  Once you have found the perfect place, now let’s test the soil and see if you need to add any nutrients to the soil.  I suggest getting our homeowner soil test kits and doing it yourself, or you can get the kits we have from Penn State and they will take all the guesswork out of it.  Once you get the results, come see us to help decipher you results.

Now, we know what we want to grow, where we want to grow it, and what our soil needs to give us the best production.  You may need to put some clean, weed free top soil or potting soil and work it in to the dirt you have.  I like using the bagged variety rather than bulk, because it is sterilized, which will give you less weed and disease issues.

Fertilizing and lime are very important to growing crops.  Lots of garden stores recommend using Miracle Gro™.  This may be great for flowers but is not so good for vegetables in my opinion.  At Copley Feed, we often hear complaints that gardeners have beautiful 6’ plants and very little fruit to harvest.  As a farmer all of my life, I know that we get good growth and production by using a fertilizer with low nitrogen, such as an analysis of 6-24-24 or 10-18-10.  pH is also very important for crop growth.  For a garden you should keep your pH level between 6 and 7.

Once your soil is prepared, stop in and pick from our selection of healthy tomato and pepper plants (generally available in May), and fresh, bulk cucumber, lettuce, and kale seeds (available year round).  We will be happy to make suggestions for you when you stop in.

Once the chance of frost is over, usually mid to end of May in Northeast Ohio, you can plant all of your purchases.  When you are in to visit us, you can ask for our free planting guide.  This will tell you how deep and how far apart to plant your items.

Now that everything is planted, step back and share a picture with us on Facebook or Instagram.  I am so proud of your accomplishment.  Welcome to farming!!!

No matter what you do, weeds always seem to creep into our plantings.  There are ways to assist you in keeping the weeds at bay.  Preen™ or corn gluten are good to use once all the seeds have germinated.  Another thing I have tested is the weed free paper which composts right into the soil, or the weed free fabric. All these ways work well.

Watering up to God, as he usually gives us plenty except during July or August.  At this time I help out by supplementing when necessary.  Soaker hoses are my favorite way to supplement water.  You need to do a long, slow watering so the water gets deep down to the roots of the plant.  About 1-2 hours at a time 2-3 times a week depending on how hot and dry it is.

Okay, that is it.  Now all you need to do is wait for things to ripen, pick and have the most delicious salad you have ever tasted!!  ENJOY MY FRIENDS, NANCY

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Gardening: Starting Seeds Indoors

Congratulations, you have decided that this year you want to grow your own plants for the garden. Mid- February is the perfect time to begin growing your eggplant, tomato and pepper plants indoors.  They all take about 3 – 4 weeks to germinate.

Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:

Buy only fresh, top quality seeds.  Buying in bulk instead of those pretty packets will save you lots of money, and I am all about saving money 😉

I like to use the BACCTO Premium Potting Soil, because it is a very light medium, it has a starter fertilizer, and it has the beads that hold water and release when you forget to water.

There are many ways to start the seed.  I usually use a plastic growing tray with a dome cover to hold in moisture.

Then I fill the plastic tray about half full of my BACCTO soil.  I dig a little trench and put my seeds in.  They can be fairly close to each other because you will transplant them once they have germinated and have at least their 2nd set of leaves on them.  Once they are planted, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and put the dome over top.  Place them in a warm room with some light.  You should get some moisture condensation on the dome, and that will let you know that they are moist enough to germinate.

Now if this sounds like too much work and a lot of mess, there is another alternative.  There is a product called Jiffy-7 Pellet.  It is a small disk a little bigger than a silver dollar.  You place the Jiffy-7 pellet in water and let it swell up to 3-4”.  When you have this done, you place them in the plastic container, poke a hole in the middle of the dirt about ½’ to 1” deep and put your seed in.  Then just pinch the top dirt over the seed.  Put your dome over the tray and wait for germination.  These are awesome to work with!

Either way will work beautifully for you.  The first example, you will wait until your plants get to 2nd leaf stage and then gently pull them out of the dirt and transplant into a jiffy peat pot.  Fill the peat pot about ½ way with Baccto Soil, put your plant in and then fill it the rest of the way with soil.  Pack it down a little, then add a little moisture.

The second example, you will wait to 2nd leaf stage and then you take the entire Jiffy 7 with the plant and put it into a jiffy peat pot.  Fill around the Jiffy 7 with dirt to the top.

If you don’t have a good window to put your plants near, then if you put up fluorescent light about 6 inches above the plants for at least 14 hours per day.  The light is important to keep your plants from becoming leggy (or growing too tall too quickly).

Keep your plants moist, but do not over water because that will cause diseases. Now is when I start feeding the plants with a starter fertilizer (not Miracle Gro).  You need something that is low in nitrogen (the first number) and higher in phosphorous and potash (the 2nd and 3rd numbers). You need to get the root and stem to develop and not just get the top to growth.

Well, I hope I have been of some help to you all.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.  I’d love to see your results.  Please share your pictures on our Facebook page.