After years of research, trial and error, we have concluded that to grow great produce you first need great SOIL and great SEED! Below we will discuss great soil.
About seed, George Washington once said,
“Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind:
For your pocket-book not only suffers by it,
but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.”
We are passionate about ensuring that our seed is the best possible! We let the plants and fruit mature fully before taking measures to save the seed. See our links on “Safe Seeds” and “Heirloom, Open-Pollinated and Hybrid” under the Organic Gardening drop-down menu above for more details.
In our experience, properly made Compost seems to grow strong, healthy plants with little need for amendments. So much more than just Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash (NPK), compost contains beneficial bacteria, mycorrhiza, fungi and other biologic soil life that assists the plant in uptaking the macronutrients (such as the NPK) and the macrominerals (such as Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc) and micronutrients (such as the trace mineral Boron) that makes healthy plants. It is our experience that compost makes the best plants ~ and research shows that even the nutrient density of Organically grown produce is higher than conventional!
All of our Test Gardens use only Compost and occasional Organic Amendments.
Learn more about making your own compost: Click here
If you don’t have time to make your own compost before you put in your plants, know that most Home and Garden Centers now carry Organic Compost and even soil with Worm Castings to help you get your plants off to a great start! Twenty + years ago, we were able to find truckloads of compost from local farms – even the county extension office may offer compost – which can help you get a big start 🙂 but, we have found that purchased soils are rarely as effective as the compost you can make yourself.
To put it simply, if you want the greenery of your plants to flourish, more nitrogen may be added. Organic substances that contain Nitrogen include:
- Fish Emulsion
- Cottonseed Meal
- Bat Guano
- Composted Chicken, Cow or Horse Manure
(Be aware of the products on the market today that say, “sourced from Organic…” and watch the ingredient labels for ammoniacal Nitrogen, as that is not for use in Organics and even if it is FROM a good source, it is still a chemical fertilizer.)
To help the Fruiting or Flowering of your plants provide Phosphorous from:
- Bone Meal
- Egg Shells
Last year our Strawberry patch put out runners (new plants) like crazy! We had planted the new strawberry plants in straight compost that must have been high in Nitrogen. I kept cutting off the new plants and they just kept producing more! Few Berries, though. As fall approached, I started putting crushed Egg Shells and Coffee Grounds (acidic, to balance the alkalinity of the egg shells and a material that quickly decomposes) at the very edge of the Strawberry Patch (not too close, however, as I wasn’t sure how they would react!)
The water must have brought enough phosphorous to where it was needed as, all of a sudden, the Strawberry Plants were producing Strawberries! And Lots of them!
It is not a very attractive combination, but it works so well, we are putting Egg Shells and Coffee Grounds under the mulch everywhere that we want more fruit!
Questions? Email us at Cynthia@SoCalGardenHealth.com