Archive for November, 2013

Gazing Balls Help Your Garden Grow

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Gardening with gazing ballsStainless steel gazing balls, also called mirror balls, should not be confused with the cheaper gazing balls sometimes mounted on or in inexpensive whimsical garden statues and yard art. They can be quite pretty and definitely decorative, but they will not benefit your garden's health or last years like our stainless steel gazing balls will.

Gazing Balls will make my garden healthier?

Yes, you bet! Here's how it works: The very material that makes these particular gazing balls so indestructible, shiny, weather-resistant and just plain pretty is the same material, stainless steel, that will attract the static charges in the air around them. Have you ever noticed how everything seems to green-up right after a good thunderstorm? Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not the rain that causes this, but the excess nitrogen that is produced as the result of the lightning. So, just as the air is charged by lightning (though at a dangerously high voltage), the area around the stainless steel spheres is charged and then, through the miracle of science, the air around the gazing balls is saturated with up to 78% nitrogen, naturally, ensuring your veggies, flowers, lawn and shrubs get a good healthy dose and thrive like never before. The process is complicated, but the name is easy: electroculture.

What is Electroculture?

Once popular in the '70s, the science, and therefore the positive effects, were not entirely known at that time. Gardeners knew that electricity could be beneficial to their gardens, but getting it there was difficult, often involving the use of make-shift towers built with wires extending into the ground, kind of like portable lightning rods. Yes, some attempts were actually dangerous and most were terrifically unsightly. Almost all were labor-intensive, which is just one of the many reasons why the practice, though extremely beneficial, was given up on. It was much easier to spread chemical-based fertilizers, the long-term effects of that bad decision not known until many, many years later.

Now, however, the science is well-known and studied, even by those not of the professional scientist persuasion, such as the simple, but effective, experiment performed here. After years of chemical use, we now have an understanding of the damage done to our delicately balanced eco-systems. Pesticides are the biggest culprit, almost bringing to an end the species of the Bald Eagle, and hurting many others, but chemically based fertilizers can be just as detrimental, running off into our ponds and streams and even infiltrating our ground water. The long-term effects on our wildlife are still being studied, though the decline in the frog population is an indicator of worse results to come. The less we use, the better!

Pretty and Useful!

Gazing Balls Help Your Garden GrowSo now you have a conundrum. In these tough economic times, many of us have turned to growing our own vegetables and have given up the weekly or bimonthly gardener or landscaper we used to hire to keep our lawns looking nice. This means a lot of us have been learning new skills, mostly through trial and error. And, as is usual, many of us are finding out that our thumbs aren't so green and that maintaining our gardens and lawns is not as easy as it might have looked when someone else was doing it. In fact, there are probably a bunch of folks with a whole new appreciation for the farmer/gardener.

Enter the stainless steel gazing ball! Pretty? No doubt about it! Decorative? Definitely! Cheaper than fertilizer? That's a BIG yes! Renewable resource? Of course. The air is free, the static charge is already there and the quality of our stainless steel gazing balls is unsurpassed. They will not peel, chip or fade. The color stays fresh; you just rinse them off and polish them with a soft cloth occasionally.

All you have to do is buy two or three and place them strategically around your yard and/or gardens to activate their nitrogen producing capabilities. The rest, as they say, is up to Mother Nature!

Here's to happier gardens and gardeners everywhere!

Vegetable Seed Sale

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Why Organic Vegetable Seeds from

Garden Harvest Supply?

hand seeder for flower seeds and vegetable seeds

 

Our Organic Vegetable Seeds are Certified organic. No artificial chemical fertilizers, growth hormones or synthetic pesticides have been used in their raising, which means:

  • Our organic veggie seeds are a fantastic value for the price.
  • Our organic vegetable seeds are fresh.
  • Our organic vegetable seeds have a higher-than-average germination rate.

Our Organic Vegetable seeds are NOT genetically modified!

We have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

And Why Grow Organic?

Though a purely personal decision, it does have its advantages:

  • The certification process has strict requirements and is closely monitored.
  • You know exactly what is NOT used to produce the seeds, and therefore what is NOT inadvertently ending up being digested by your family.
  • With stringent growing requirements, you know you are buying the highest quality vegetable seed.

And Why Buy Now?

Save 15%

on

Organic Vegetable Seeds

Seed Starting Supplies

Garden Seeders

Save 15% on all of our ORGANIC Vegetable Seeds:

Choose from over 350 varieties, including:

Organic Jubilee Sweet Corn seed. Brown-thumb-tolerant!

Organic DeCicco Broccoli seed. Little trees for little-tree munchers.

Organic Emerald Giant Sweet Pepper seed. Ideal for stuffing.

Organic Tyee Spinach seedEasy-peasy growing and cleaning.

Organic Bonny Best Tomato seed. Heirloom 'maters, great for everything from slicing to canning.

Our Organic Early Summer Crookneck Squash seed and Organic Tahitian Squash seed. Your cornucopia will be running over!

Organic Crimson Sweet Watermelon seeds. Rememberleave LOTS of room.

Andif you want to get a jump-start on the season, pick up one (or more) of ourLandmark P72 Plug Trays. Fill with your own soil mixture, our Pro-Mix Seed Starting Soilor Jiffy Peat Pellets. Start your seeds indoors or in your greenhouse.

Save 15% by Planning Ahead!

Use Discount Code VEGGIE13 at Checkout through November 30.

Make sure to check out our WOLF-Garten Garden Seeder with interchangeable long or short handles, and our Seedmaster Vibrating Hand Seeder with swappable baffles for any size seed.

They're on sale, too!

Improve Your Soil with Lime

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Adding_Lime_To_SoilMost gardeners think of lime as an amendment to add to acid soil. This is absolutely true, and we have written about this use in a previous newsletter. But lime is also very beneficial for clay soil, even when acidity is not a problem. In fact, most clay soil is alkaline, but lime can improve its structure and make it more fertile.

This all takes place because of a process called flocculation. To understand flocculation, think of a flock of sheep grazing close together in the middle of a pasture when suddenly a thunderclap causes them to scatter in all directions. What had been an impassable mass of grazing sheep is now an open and unobstructed field you could drive straight through because the sheep are now evenly distributed.

When you add lime to your soil, a chemical reaction takes place between the calcium in the lime (which is its primary ingredient), and the particles of clay. When you evenly distribute lime throughout your soil, the fine yet clumped-up clay particles suddenly scatter and bind to the larger calcium particles. Suddenly there is more space between each grain of soilspace that allows both air and water to pass through it more easily.

Some would say the advantage of this is better drainage and aeration, which is true, but there's something more basic that explains why this chemical reaction is such a great thing for your soil: it creates improved conditions for beneficial bacteria to flourish.

Ken Ferrie, the editor of Farm Journal, explains, The good things you do for your soil are actually aimed at supporting microbial populations. For example, we tend to think we are applying fertilizer to feed crop plants, but those nutrients must be processed by microorganisms and then be released to the plants . . . everything we do to improve soil health is really aimed at building and maintaining this diverse population of soil microorganisms.

In other words, increased microbial action causes the nutrients in the soil to break down and become bio-available, making it easy for your plants to absorb them. It's as if the microbes cook the soil so that your plants are able to obtain nutritious meals from it. If the soil remains uncooked, your plants won't digest it well and won't be able to absorb the necessary nutrients contained in it.

When you add lime, flocculation takes place, which causes the soil to be easier to cultivate and easier to irrigate, and it steps up the action of the beneficial bacteria. Over time, this makes minerals and other nutrients more bio-available, leading to flourishing plants, higher yields, and more fertile soil.

To Lime or Not to Lime

nutralime_lime_40_pound_MWe wouldn't want you to miss out on the benefits of lime just because your clay soil is slightly alkaline (with a pH of 7.2 or lower). Yet if it is strongly alkaline (with a pH above 7.2), you would be better off with garden gypsum, which works in a similar way but contains some sulfur that makes it more acidic. For highly alkaline soil you will want to apply sulfur directly. This will help acidify your soil and also protect it from a variety of pests, but it will not bring the benefits of flocculation.

So start out by testing the pH of your soil. Tests are very inexpensive these days; in fact, if you buy the Rapitest pH Soil Tester, it costs considerably less than a dollar per test.

If your soil is acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline (7.2 or lower) we recommend you give lime a try. And there is no time better than November for giving your soil a lime treatment. By the time spring comes along, you'll be all ready for a great growing season.

How to Apply Lime

We sell lime in various size bags. Our most economical lime is Nutralime, which is $8.50 for a 40 lb. bag.

Applying lime is simple. Just dig up and loosen the soil in some way, either by hand using a spade or a broadfork, or for bigger areas, by using a rototiller. Following the directions on the package, spread the lime either by hand or by using a spreader. Then use a rake or border fork to work the lime pellets into the soil. Don't worry about the lime pellets not working as well as powdered lime. As soon as they are exposed to water, they will dissolve completely, distributing the lime all through the soil. So the next step is to water your soil using a watering can, garden hose, sprinkler, drip irrigation system, or whatever other method you prefer.

And then just wait until spring to enjoy the increased fertility and improved structure of your soil. If your soil was acidic, you can also expect to see it shift in the direction of being sweeter (more alkaline). If you have any questions about how much lime to use or about anything else we've discussed here, please write to our master gardener, or call us toll-free at 888-907-4769.

Happy Lime Spreading from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!

How to Grow the Most Flavorful Onions

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Growing_Flavorful_OnionsGrowing the best-tasting onions doesn’t happen by accident. Yes, you can grow onions by pretty much letting them do their own thing: you'll have onions; you'll have plenty of onions; you'll have onions suitable for most recipes. But, you will NOT have the most flavorful onions.

The first recommendation for growing the best onions is that you use onion transplants rather than starting your onions from seeds. Transplants can withstand light frost, so these will actually be one of the first vegetables you can plant in your garden.

Fertilization is vital to a good-tasting onion. Yes, onions will grow with little to no care, but feeding them, especially at the time you transplant them, will greatly enhance their flavor. In fact, studies at Texas A&M University have found that banding with phosphorous yields fantastic results. You do this by digging a trench about 4 inches deep where you will plant your onions, laying in about 1/2 cup of phosphorous-rich fertilizer, such as Bone Meal, per 10 linear feet of row. Fill in about half of the trench, plant the transplants, then fill in the remainder of the soil as you plant.

A fast acting nitrogen for gardensYou should also side-dress with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, like Hi-Yield Ammonium Sulphate, starting about 3 weeks after transplant, applying every 3 weeks until a month prior to harvest. You can check for progress by feeling the neck at or just above the soil level. The neck will start to feel soft; at this point you should stop fertilizing.

Water is also critical to growing onions with the best flavor. You should maintain consistent moisture throughout the season, being especially sure to water each time you fertilize. The closer it gets to harvest, the more moisture your onions will need, so monitor closely. Buying an inexpensive moisture tester will provide the most reliable information for you to determine watering requirements.

Plan ahead for the size of the bulbs your particular variety of onion will produce. You can plant closer together if you'd like to thin your onions at chive-size or as scallions, making room for the remainder of your onions to grow to full size. Otherwise, leave enough room on each side of each onion plant to allow for full-size bulb growth (and maybe a little more for good measure).Organic Bone Meal

And, of course, harvesting your onions at their peak will yield the absolute best flavor. The most accurate indicator is that the tops will fall over. If your onions have bolted (flowered), don't wait for the tops to fall over: you might as well harvest if that happens. The bulbs will not grow any larger once they’ve flowered.

Flavorful onions? Yes you can!

How To Remove Dog Urine?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Removing_Dog_UrineIf you have ever had a puppy or an aging dog, you probably have wondered how to remove dog urine. You not only need to remove the stain, but you need to eliminate the odor. Bear in mind that just because you can't smell the odor, it doesn't mean that it's gone. The offending dog may go back to the same place over and over again if the odor is not completely eliminated, and any new or visiting dog will also be tempted to declare its dominance by marking over the spot. Their sniffers are much more sensitive than ours!

What you need is a product that will not only provide you immediate relief from the unpleasant smell, but that will effectively eliminate the odor and the stain from dog urine. You also want a product that will not damage your fabrics and is perfectly safe for use around your pets and family members.

D-Molish Now is available in Spring Fresh or Orange scents, either of which will do away with the offending odor immediately, but it doesn't stop there: it goes a mile further! The enzymes within the formulation go to workand keep workingdigesting the source of the odor, which is just one reason we find D-Molish to be superior to most other products.

The other reasons?

  • It is non-acidic and non-alkaline. Solvent-free, this product can be used without damaging plumbing, tile, toilets or even septic systems.
  • It is non-staining. You can safely use it on carpets, draperies and upholstery. In fact, you can even use it as a laundry additive. (It's a fantastic degreaser!)
  • It is non-poisonousand only mildly irritating with prolonged contact. Children, pets, fish, birds and your plants are all safe. There are no fumes, except for the pleasant fragrance.
  • It is multi-purpose. Use it to remove dog urine stains and odor or cat urine stains and odor; to degrease your vent cover or stove; to clean tile grout; or to break down oil and gasoline on your concrete driveway and sidewalks. (Pest removal experts even use it to de-skunk-itize and to remove the overwhelming smell of bat guano.)

Though you may purchase D-Molish Now to remove dog urine and the associated odors, the uses you will find for it are immeasurable. In fact, we'd love to hear how it works for you. Just let us know!

 

How to Grow Dichondra Plants

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

growing dichondra plants in landscapeHere are some easy tips on how to grow Dichondra plants: If by seed, first prepare planting area by spraying with glyphosate (herbacide.) Mix as package directs. After 2 weeks, till soil 2-3 in. deep, water, and re-apply herbicide to any new weeds. After another 2 weeks, rake seedbed and sow seed (1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft.) Rake to cover; water but don't soak. Temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees, with no chance of frost. If using nursery plants, work 2-3 in. organic matter into soil. Place rooted plugs in holes 2-3 times the size of the root ball. Space the plugs 3-4 in. apart. Mulch with peat moss when done. Soil should be well draining and rich in nitrogen. (If adding nitrogen, use 1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft.)

Pronunciation: die-CON-druh

Common Name(s): Silver Ponysfoot, Kidney Weed, and Lawn Leaf

Description: Members of the Morning Glory family, Dichondra plants are ornamental groundcover used in areas where grass won't grow. It's not meant to replace turf grass in high foot-traffic areas.

Propagation: Stem or leaf cuttings

Sun/Light Needs: Prefers full sun, but will grow in partial shade.

USDA Zones: A perennial in zones 8-11; elsewhere as an annual.

Fertilizer: Yearly, during the active growing season (April-October). Apply 4 lbs. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. Water afterwards to wash fertilizer off leaves and into soil.

Maintenance: High. When sowing, mist daily (3-5 times), depending on how hot and sunny it is. Water deep, but not too often. Let soil dry slightly in between. Mow every two weeks; bag the clippings. To control broadleaf weeds, weed by hand.

Companion Plants: Salvia or Ornamental pepper

Wildlife: Lawn Leaf is deer resistant

Display: These annual plants can also grow in window boxes, hanging baskets and containers.

Problems: Flea beetles, rust, nematodes, southern blight

Why Apply Garden Gypsum Now?

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Espoma_Garden_GypsumIf you have heavy clay soil, want to improve drainage or add calcium and sulfur to your soil and your soil is still workable, now might be the ideal time to apply Garden Gypsum. Garden gypsum will fertilize your plants, especially your acid-loving plants, without changing the pH, but it DOES require about 3 years for the soil composition to change as a result of its application. If applying over a large area, you might want to use a garden fertilizer spreader of some kind.

Garden Gypsum is a fantastic, all-around fertilizer and soil amendment with multiple uses:

  • Many farmers use gypsum to help improve the till-ability of their soil. Clay soil can easily become compacted, as does soil that does not retain water well or is overly dry, the clumps interfering with tilling and contributing to the soil not being able to retain water. Seeds do not form the healthy roots necessary for optimal growth when the soil is not loose (aerated) and the pockets of moisture in compacted soil can result in seed or root rot. The ideal soil is loose and easily tillable; application of garden gypsum over a period of about 3 years will change the entire composition of your garden soil.
  • Gypsum makes other soil amendments, such as lime or fertilizers, work more efficiently. Lime is used to elevate the pH of your soil and is recommended for application in the early spring or in the fall/winter, while gypsum can be applied at any time. Improving the composition of the soil prior to adding lime or fertilizers helps to ensure your plants are able to use these amendments more effectively, rather than their draining away and going to waste.
  • Better soil composition results in the earthworms coming back to stay! Earthworms not only aerate the soil, but their castings (worm poop) is an exceptional plant food and soil amendment. You can actually buy Earthworm Castings to mix with your soil or top-dress while you are using gypsum to improve your soil composition. Earthworm castings don't smell, so your indoor and/or potted plants can benefit from earthworm activity too.
  • Gypsum will increase crop yields (ask any farmer), which means it will do the same in your vegetable garden! The calcium is necessary for plant cell health, while the sulfur works with amino acids within the plant that help to manufacture plant proteins. It's all good!

You can add gypsum as you are preparing your garden bed for the following season, or you can add it into established beds, mixing it into the top few inches being careful of the roots beneath. Gypsum will not affect the pH of your soil, but over time, even in established beds, will improve the soil your plants are growing in. Use it in established flower beds, unless you're growing flowers that love the soil they are already in. For example, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans grow well in clay soils. However, using garden gypsum to improve the composition of your soil will enable you to broaden your horizons, increasing the types of flowers you can grow, the quality of your vegetables and your overall soil health.

Wild Birds Need & Crave Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Friday, November 8th, 2013

birds eating from a black oil sunflower seed feederFor many years scientists have struggled to be able to clearly define the nutritional needs of wild birds and have found it a daunting task. To this day there are no definitive studies on the wild bird population's nutritional requirements, mostly because it is nearly impossible to duplicate all of the factors that can contribute to a wild bird's diet, such as: variations in bird species, temperatures, seasonal changes and even the age and size of the birds. For example, small birds will almost always eat more per unit of body weight than a larger bird and juveniles have completely different nutritional requirements than an adult of the same species; and once you've captured the wild bird in order to collect data, the data has been corrupted since the wild bird is no longer in the wild.

However, studies accomplished on some wild birds, on pet birds and on chickens have resulted in some general information. For example, we've learned that, on average, wild birds will consume about half of their daily energy requirements just to maintain their weight and health, while the rest is needed for activities, such as foraging for food, which uses a large amount of their energy stores. Even sleeping and keeping warm require fairly large energy expenditures.

It has also been discovered that migrating birds and resident birds will have quite varied requirements when it comes to storing fat, the amount of protein needed, the necessity for carbohydrates and the demand for calcium, which is highest during breeding and nesting seasons.

So, how do you provide good nutrition for such a wide variety of avian diners?

You fill your bird feeders with Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

no_no_black_oil_feederWhy?

  • Almost all birds like Black Oil Sunflower Seed and will eat it, even if they prefer other types of food.
  • The shells are soft enough for even smaller birds to crack open.
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds are meatier than other varieties.
  • They contain 28% fat, 25% fiber and 15% protein, as well as calcium, B vitamins, iron, vitamin E and potassium.
  • They are readily available, both as whole seed and hulled.

We all bear a certain amount of responsibility for the health and well-being of wild birds. We, as a species, have moved into their habitat, polluted their air and forced them to adapt to a human world. The very least we can do is provide them food and a corner of our back yards for refueling on their migration pathor in which to live in relative peace, with food, water and shelter readily available.

How to Grow Colocasia Plants

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Colocasia plants: These tropical beauties grow best in temperatures of 68-86 degrees F. Any exposure to 50 degrees or below may damage them. Plant the bulbs 2-3 in. below the soil; lay each bulb on its side. Space bulbs 2 ft. apart. Make sure the soil is rich in organic matter. Soil must also be very loose and well draining. Colocasia plants like wet soil, so keep the soil moist and keep the plants mulched.

Common Name(s): Elephant Ear, Taro

Pronunciation: kol-oh-KAY-shah

Origin: Polynesia, S.E. Asia

Description: In North America this tropical beauty is grown for ornamental use: the heart or arrow-shaped leaves are showy and beautiful. Colocasia plants have large (8-60 in.) leaves in dark, glossy green or dark plum. The green, dark red or black stems grow from 3-7 ft. tall. Elephant Ear plants can also be variegated. In their native lands, these annual plants are grown as perennial plants and the roots are eaten.

Propagation: Root division in winter or early spring.

Sun/Light Needs: Full sun to part shade.

USDA Zones: 8-11 In Zone 5 and cooler, grown as annual plants.

Fertilizer Needs: Every 3-4 weeks with a general fertilizer.

Maintenance: Medium to high. Keep soil moist at all times. Keep mulched with organic matter: bark or pine needles are best.

Companion Plants: Caladium, Coleus, Licorice plant.

Display: Borders, containers, water gardens.

Diseases/problems: Aphids, whiteflies, mosaic virus, root rot. Colocasia plants are invasive in some areas; check with your nurseryman. The sap will irritate skin, so be careful handling the stems.

Interesting Note: In Hawaii, the dish called Poi is made from the roots of Elephant Ear plants. Colocasia plants are thought to be the oldest cultivated plants in the world.

When Should You Sow Tomato Seeds?

Monday, November 4th, 2013

When to start tomato seeds indoorsMost tomato gardeners know that the best crops start from seeds germinated indoors. It's best to sow your tomato seeds 7-9 weeks prior to your estimated transplant date.

The Old Farmer's Almanac has a map to estimate the approximate transplant dates for your region and a chart with the average last spring frost dates for your particular area. This chart, along with the Average Monthly Springtime Temperature for your state will give you the best guesstimate of when you'll be able to transplant your tomato seedlings. Of course, Mother Nature is always full of surprises. Frosts sometimes do not occur at all or can happen much later and more severely than forecast. We can try our best when it comes to sowing, transplanting and harvesting our crops, but we will not have the last word.

We've found our customers are quite creative and cost-conscious, many starting their tomato seeds in tiny wax-paper cups covered with plastic to maintain proper moisture levels. We've also seen them planted in wooden flats, egg cartons, re-purposed yogurt or cottage cheese containersyou name it. Most, though, will find that having a mini-countertop greenhouse for germinating their tomato seeds yields the best results. These seed-starting kits tend to take up less space; they can be stacked in a pinch (until they sprout and the plastic lids need to be removed); they look much neater; they more easily maintain adequate moisture levels; and they are reusable. After the initial investment, you simply refill them with peat pellets, like the ones Jiffy makes. They store really well: they can be nested to make a neat little package.

Young_Tomato_Seedling

Whatever you use to get seeds started, keep the soil temperature between 70° and 90°F. Under those ideal conditions, it normally takes 7-14 days for seed germination. The tomato seedlings can be transplanted as soon as your garden soil temperatures reach 50°F and the nighttime temps don't drop below 45°F. An inexpensive soil thermometer is an invaluable tool to determine soil temperatures, as ambient temperature, moisture content and soil composition can greatly affect the temperature of the soil.