Tuesday, December 13, 2011

…and you thought I ran away and joined the circus!

My apologies for not attending to my blogging duties for quite some time. It probably has something to do with the “old dog... new tricks” thing.

Anyway... the garden landscape is changing. Although I live in the country (nothing better), many of my fellow gardeners are suburbanites. Garden space can be somewhat restrictive in these subdivisions, subsequently the garden has moved to decks and patios. Countless different types of growing containers are available at most retailers. Even our local grocery chain sells garden planters in the spring.

Many seed companies put forth a concerted effort to develop plants well suited for containers on decks and patios. It is quite easy to find tomatoes that will yield big numbers of tasty fruit in hanging baskets.
Plant growers and garden centers are signing on to offering vegetable varieties that perform well on the deck. It is all about growing quite a bit of food in a smaller space. The Japanese have been doing this successfully for centuries.

Speaking of intensive gardening, we have an affiliation with a company called SPIN Farming. They are all about earning a living or adding to your income by practicing intensive growing techniques in a small space. Their claim to fame is that anyone can grow and sell vegetables from a ½ acre plot and earn a decent income. The grower plants in blocks and eliminates rows of wasted space... seems to make good sense.

The other interesting phenomenon with gardening these days is the movement to roof tops or vacant lots in urban areas around the USA. Gardening in vacant lots, using intensive gardening techniques, is without question a good idea. Gardening on someone’s roof can be a little trickier. After all, gardening requires water, and water needs a place to drain, and not into the apartment below.

There are some significant greenhouse structures popping up on roof tops in the cities, and with proper engineering, it is a mighty fine place to grow vegetables.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your seedlings will win with Worm Power... and so could you!!!

If you're like many of our home garden customers, you're looking for ways to raise seedlings using sustainable products and methods. We - along with growers nationwide - have found improved germination and seedling vigor using certified organic Worm Power when starting seeds. The method is simple, the fertilizer is safe, and the results are impressive. We wanted to share this information about how to use Worm Power to give your seedlings a great start. This article originally appeared in the February issue of our email newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to our e-newsletter, you can do so here.

And as part of her super-duper give-away week, garden blogger Genevieve Schmidt (
www.NorthCoastGardening.com) will be awarding a variety of Worm Power products to four lucky winners who post comments about Worm Power on her blog! The Worm Power give away will start on April 13th – so check out her blog, make a comment, and you could be the winner!

Worm Power is a professional-grade, certified organic fertilizer made by millions of earthworms in a state-of-the-art facility in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It supplies plants with balanced nutrients, and it helps facilitate nutrient absorption through the action of its abundant beneficial microbes. In addition, university laboratory tests using cucumber seeds show Worm Power to be effective in suppressing the soil pathogen that causes damping off. The rich, black, crumbly earthworm compost is odorless and safe to use around kids and pets. Although we didn't doubt the professional growers and gardeners who reported increased germination and plant vigor when starting seeds with Worm Power, we decided to test it for ourselves. We chose untreated Scarlet Red tomato seed, and we planted two trials. The trial on the left was planted into standard seed starting mix, while the trial on the right was sown into the same seed starting mix, blended with 10% Worm Power. The seeds started with Worm Power show markedly greener leaves, thicker stems, and faster leaf development.

Our trial with salad greens showed similar, impressive results.

Starting seeds with Worm Power is easy. First, choose a natural seed starting mix (without fungicide), and measure approximately the amount you'll need for your seeding flats or pots. Then, blend Worm Power evenly into the seed starting mix at a rate of 10% for vegetables, or 5% for flowers. At those rates, a 1 Lb Bag of Worm Power makes 2.5 Gallons of seed starting mix for vegetables, or 5 Gallons for flowers. A little goes a long way!

Water as you normally would, keeping seeds and seedlings moist but not wet. Supply bottom heat and plenty of light, and watch your plants take off! Every 2-4 weeks, continue your organic fertility program with liquid Worm Power Shower or by top dressing with granular Worm Power. Check out our Worm Power Starter Kit for all you'll need to give your seeds a powerful, natural start this spring.

For more Worm Power information, including application rates, university research, videos, news features, and gardener testimonials, visit our newly-launched Worm Power Home Garden page, or click the Worm Power tab on our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh, those happy Holsteins…

While growing up in rural New York, I had the privilege of working with my brother-in-law on his small dairy farm. He is gone now, and so is his farm. But, I do recall being there when he would open the barn door to allow his small herd to go outside for the very first time in the spring, after being cooped up in a stanchion during those long winter months. Much to my surprise, they cows would rush through the door and as soon as they got outside, they would kick up their heels as to say…wow, this weather is really nice. They knew greener pastures were right in front of them.

I don’t know about you folks, but I am starting to feel much like those Holsteins did. This winter seems to be longer than usual. It started with cold damp weather in November, and December brought cold snowy weather that has remained into March. It looks like a full 5 months of winter, and I know it is only supposed to be 3.

Well, I am truly looking forward to greener “pastures”, as spring is soon to grace us with its presence here in the North. Planting has started in the South, and greenhouses around the country are filled with flower and vegetable transplants. My brother says his radishes are up in his garden in South Texas, but mine will have to wait for another few months. Then, we all can kick up our heels.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The onion fields of Southwest Texas…

Dixondale Farms - Carrizo Springs, TX

While visiting my brother in southern Texas last month, I had an opportunity to drive out to Carrizo Springs in the Rio Grande Valley to visit Dixondale Farms. We were greeted by Bruce Frasier, the owner of Dixondale Farms.

Everything is truly big in Texas, including his 2500 acre farm. It is almost impossible to see from one end to the other. Within this operation are 400 acres of onion transplants and they were impressive. 400 acres of anything is a lot of ground to cover. He was harvesting transplants started in September for shipment in December to the southern parts of the USA. His harvest runs straight through April where onion transplants are delivered to the northern markets.

The raised bed fields were clean as a whistle with a multitude of plant sizes from tiny seedlings to mature transplants. All plants are hand harvested, and one is amazed how fast his field hands pull and bundle the transplants. Plants are pulled in the morning and shipped that very same day.

We sell many of Dixondale’s field grown onion transplants. It is reassuring to know that we are business partners with the biggest and best onion transplant grower in the USA. For more information on our onion transplant program for home gardeners and professional growers, check them out on our web site or find them in either our home garden catalog or professional vegetable growers’ catalogs.