Organic Gardening Tip of the Week

Week of July 10, 2018
If you see black or rotting bottoms on your tomatoes, peppers or eggplants (less common), it is most likely blossom end rot. Tomato varieties that set all of its fruit at once (determinate) are commonly affected; cherry tomatoes rarely get blossom end rot. It is caused by a calcium deficiency in your plants caused by soil deficiencies or from uneven watering (calcium is not taken up). Mulch around your plants to help conserve the moisture and remove affected fruit. If your soil has sufficient calcium, then no supplement is needed. Deep cultivation can damage roots which in turn may impair nutrient and water uptake. Don’t over fertilize your plants with high nitrogen either. Excessive nitrogen will lead to more foliage which will reduce the amount of calcium available to the fruit.

Tips of the Past

Week of July 3, 2018

Week of July 3, 2018

Table grape vines can be pruned in June through July to thin out shoots which will open up the plant for better sunlight penetration and air circulation. This will also help in preventing powdery mildew. You want to wait and thin out your vines after your plant has set fruit and the clusters are starting to size up (size of a pea). Thin to 6-8 shoots per foot of canopy. You also want to trim the vines with fruit clusters. Trim them about two to three nodes after the fruit cluster. Remove the suckers growing on the trunk of grape vine. Cluster thin your vines so you only have one fruit cluster per shoot. You should pick the largest cluster and remove any misshaped clusters. You can also snip off the bottom of each grape cluster, which will improve the size of the fruit.
Week of June 26, 2018

Week of June 26, 2018

After your garlic has produced scapes (hardneck varieties) your bulbs are really starting to size up. You can start cutting back on the amount of water they are getting, but you don’t want your garlic to dry out. In the first part of July you will want to stop watering. If you are unsure if your hardneck garlic is ready to harvest, look for about 3 to 4 dried leaves at the bottom of the plant. Dig up a test bulb to see how well the bulb has sized up. If it is nice and large, you can dig up the remaining bulbs. Don’t harvest too soon or you may have small bulbs, too late and the wrappers may have broken down and your garlic may not keep as long. Softneck garlic is a little different than hardnecks. Softnecks are ready for harvesting when the top of the plant falls over, similar to onions.
Week of June 19, 2018

Week of June 19, 2018

Now that Mother Nature has turned up the heat, your summer garden is loving it but your cool-weather plants like peas and lettuce are not so happy. One thing that can benefit both is installing some shade cloth. There are different shade cloth percentages available and a good rule of thumb is to install 30% shade cloth for plants that love the heat; cool-weather plants like lettuce, greens and broccoli, use 47% shade cloth in hot climates. Placement is also important. Install it on the west side of your garden beds to shade your plants during the hottest part of the day. You can also use shade cloth over greenhouses to keep them cooler in the summer. 50-60% shade cloth can be installed over shade-loving plants and 80% over patios to cool down your outdoor living space.
Week of June 12, 2018

Week of June 12, 2018

Now that your tomatoes are growing like weeds it it time to prune out the suckers. The advantages to pruning out the suckers on your tomatoes are increased fruit size, better air circulation which will help with disease prevention. The suckers are the stems growing out of the leaf crotch. You should remove the suckers from the bottom of the plant up to the first flower cluster. Remove them before they get too big, less than 3” long is a good rule of thumb. You will need to keep an eye on your tomato plants throughout the season and prune the suckers as they get big enough and you want to remove the yellow or dead leaves (especially seen on the bottom of the plant). You only want to prune indeterminate varieties; determinate varieties should not get pruned, you can leave the suckers on those plants.
Week of June 5, 2018

Week of June 5, 2018

The removal of fruit may seem counterintuitive, but it will actually give you a better crop and will help prevent biennial bearing (producing fruit every other year). Thinning will help prevent limb damage, improve size of the remaining fruit and discourage early fruit drop. June is a good time to thin out your fruit set on your apples, pears and stone fruit. Thin the fruit in the clusters and thin between the fruit. For apples or pears, thin to 1-2 fruit per cluster, nectarines and peaches can be thinned to one fruit every six inches. Pick up any aborted fruit on the ground and if there are no signs of disease, you can add it to your compost pile or worm bin or your chickens might enjoy a fruit salad.
Week of May 29, 2018

Week of May 29, 2018

Those curly-Q things are called scapes. They are a false flower stalk that starts out straight, then curls around into one or two loops then straightens again. They are produced on hardneck varieties and most people like to remove them. Removing them will direct the plants’ energy into making a larger bulb. But don’t just throw them into your compost pile–scapes are very delicious to eat and are milder than the garlic cloves. Allow them to grow down into a single loop (longer they grow the tougher then get), cut them off and take them to the kitchen. You can steam them, saute them, pickle them, freeze them for later use, or if you don’t want to eat them, add them to your compost pile.
Week of May 22, 2018

Week of May 22, 2018

Throw your plants a compost tea party this spring ! Compost tea can be applied as a foliar spray or soil drench. It is easy to make at home with just a few components and can be customized to your plants' needs. Compost tea takes all the goodness from your compost and makes it even better. Compost tea is easy to make and we have a great video showing you step by step how to make it. There are so many versions of compost tea recipes but you can “brew” your own version. The basic components of compost tea include water, compost (or you can use arctic humus or worm castings) and a tea catalyst. Additions can be made to your tea–liquid kelp or maxicrop, liquid fish or water soluble bat guano are great to supplement your compost tea. Any method you use, your plants will love it!
Week of May 15, 2018

Week of May 15, 2018

If you are just setting up your drip irrigation system for your garden or yard, there are quite a few things to consider when choosing the type of irrigation you want to use. Drip systems can be made up of either drip tape, emitterline, soaker hose, drip emitters or a combination. If you are watering straight, flat rows then drip tape is a good choice. Unless you have a low flow system, you will need to put a pressure reducer on your drip tape system. If your property has a slope, then you may want to use emitterline. Soaker hose is great if you want to wind it around your landscape plants (not sharp curves). Drip emitters can be plugged right into your 1/2” poly or attached to 1/4” poly and run to your plants. There are so many options with drip irrigation, check out our selection to choose the right system for you.
Week of May 8, 2018

Week of May 8, 2018

Vegetable seeds like beans and corn are best planted directly in the ground when the soil has warmed enough to favor germination. But the new sprouts are vulnerable to pests like birds. They will pluck the newly sprouted seed right out of the ground. Protect your sprouts with bird netting or lightweight floating rowcover, like Agribon AG-15 or AG-19. If you have hoops over your raised beds, you can drape the bird netting over the structure. If you are not planting in raised beds, you can use a Loop Hoop or purchase our heavy weight wire for making hoops. The light weight floating row cover can be laid directly on the seedlings. Leave it on until the sprouts are big enough so birds will not bother them.
Week of May 1, 2018

Week of May 1, 2018

“Hardening off” is the process of acclimating your pampered vegetable starts to the outdoors. The process should be gradual and can take place over a weeks time. Take your starts outdoors and introduce them to an hour of sunlight (morning sun is best) and increase the time by an hour each day. By the end of the week they will be have been exposed to 7 hours of continuous sunlight and are ready to go into their permanent location. Avoid putting them out on windy days and when temps are going to be below 45°F. It is also important to slowly decrease the amount of water they are getting, but not to the point that they will wilt. Do not fertilize your seedlings during the process as well. You want to slow down their growth rate a bit during the hardening off process.
Week of April 24, 2018

Week of April 24, 2018

Spring is here and so are the flies. When controlling flies, it is important to control the larvae (maggots) and the adults. To control the larvae, fly parasites are the answer. If you have livestock, the fly parasites should be released every 2 weeks throughout the season. A monthly or weekly shipping can easily be set up for you in our Order Department so you don’t miss releasing the parasites on a regular schedule. Release them near a fly breeding site. Adult flies can be caught with traps. Most traps use a smelly bait to lure the flies into the trap, then they can’t figure out how to get back out. The best fly control approach, especially if you have livestock, is to use a combination of traps and fly parasites.
Week of April 17, 2018

Week of April 17, 2018

Spring is a great time to start planting (zones 7 and up) in the garden but the weather can be very unpredictable so you don’t want to jump into direct seeding your warm weather seeds until conditions are right. Two important tools to have on hand in the spring is a soil thermometer and some floating row cover for the cold temperatures that warm-season seedlings do not favor. Most common warm season seeds that are direct seeded are beans, corn, squash and melons. In general, if the soil is 70°F, these seeds will germinate. If you soil has not warmed up enough, you can put down a plastic mulch to speed up warming the soil. Watch the nighttime temperature as well. If it is forecast to dip below 45°F, then you will want to cover your seedlings with a floating row cover such as Agribon.
Week of April 10, 2018

Week of April 10, 2018

Who doesn’t like fresh potatoes from the garden? Here is an easy way to grow them in a GeoBin or SmartPot (large one about 30-40 gallons). First of all cut up your large potatoes into pieces with about 2 eyes, set them out to air dry overnight; this helps prevent rot. The soil should be about 40°F, if not wait until it is warm enough. Set up a GeoBin to about a 3’ diameter and put gopher wire on the bottom. Put down a 12” layer of sticks on top of the wire, then add alternate layers of 2-4” of compost, blood meal and bone meal, with the last layer being the compost. Layers should be about 10” deep. Put your potato pieces on the compost at 8-10” apart, cover with 2-4” of compost, then add thick layer of straw on top (especially if in cold zones). Keep watered over the season.
Week of April 3, 2018

Week of April 3, 2018

Codling moths can ruin your apples, pears or walnuts and who wants that? Codling moths will start emerging, depending on your temperatures, in March or April. A good way to monitor for their activity is to put out a trap with a codling moth lure. The male moths will be attracted to the pheromone in the lure and get trapped in the sticky substance on the inside of the trap. If your populations are low, then the sticky traps may be enough to disrupt the mating process. If the infestation is heavy then you will want to use a combination of monitoring traps and insecticides that are labeled for codling moths. Another solution is to apply a barrier around your developing fruit so the codling moth larva cannot penetrate. For more information check out our video on Controlling Codling Moths Organically.
Week of March 27, 2018

Week of March 27, 2018

Wildflowers can be planted in the fall or spring. If you live in regions with harsh winters, it is better to wait until the spring to plant. Areas with mild winters can plant wildflowers in the fall or spring (before the end of the rain). Wildflowers will grow just fine in native soil, so no need to fertilize. Unless specifically buying a shade-loving mix, wildflowers like full sun. But they don’t like soggy, wet feet, so a good draining location is a must. Many wildflower seeds are very small so it is best to mix with an inert material like sand (not sea sand) or vermiculite in a 1:10 ratio and add to a seed spreader to broadcast. Plant some wildflowers for your hard-working pollinators and to add beauty to your yard.
Week of March 20, 2018

Week of March 20, 2018

If you planted a soil building cover crop in the fall and about half of the plants (the peas and vetch) are blooming, it is time to cut it down. The easiest and fastest way to incorporate all of the goodness of the cover crop is to cut it with a weed eater or mower, apply a product to speed up decomposition like our Biodynamic Field Spray (ISO200), and turn it under with either a rototiller or garden fork. If you don’t add the Field Spray, then the cover crop should be allowed to decompose for about 3 to 6 weeks before planting your next crop. It’s important to wait because your cover crop will be decomposing and during this decomposition process you will temporarily lock up some of the nitrogen in the soil.
Week of March 13, 2018

Week of March 13, 2018

Getting your soil tested is a great idea and it all starts with taking a good sample. First of all start with a clean trowel; don’t use ones made of brass or soft steel and never use your hands. Have a clean plastic bucket or pail to use, don’t use galvanized steel or rubber. Do not sample your soil if it is wetter than you would want for tilling. Take about 10–12 subsamples in your garden soil or raised beds to get a good composite of your soil. Clear away any debris or organic material from the top of the soil. Dig down about 6” or as deep as you are planning to cultivate. Dry soil should be submitted for analysis, so if your soil is too wet, spread out on a newspaper and allow to air dry (and out of direct sunlight). Watch our video on How to Take a Good Soil Sample for Soil Testing for more information.
Week of March 6, 2018

Week of March 6, 2018

Cane pruning promotes the highest yield for most table grapes. Select a total of about 4 canes that come off close to the trunk and remove the rest (but not before you select your renewal canes). The canes that you are keeping should have at least 15 buds and be about pencil size. These canes will be your fruiting canes. Cut the fruiting cane back to about 15 buds and and remove any laterals. For every fruiting cane you keep, you should also keep one renewal spur. The renewal spurs will produce next years fruiting canes. The renewal spurs are short and should be cut back to about 2 buds. The other method of pruning grapes is spur pruning. Watch our video to learn more about spur pruning.
Week of February 27, 2018

Week of February 27, 2018

Growing your veggie garden from seed is a great way to grow a more diverse selection of plants. Now that your seedlings have germinated, what should you do now? Make sure that they stay warm enough, especially if they are tender summer annuals like peppers or eggplant. Another thing to consider is light–make sure they have a good light source either natural light or artificial grow lights. If you have planted multiple seeds in one cell, you can thin out the weaker seedlings using snips. Once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, you can start fertilizing with a weak solution (1/4 strength) of a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer, like our Liquid Fish, combined with a kelp solution (also diluted 1/4-1/2 strength). Once the seedlings start to outgrow their original container, move up into a larger pot. Transplant out into the garden when conditions are optimum for the plant you are growing.
Week of February 20, 2018

Week of February 20, 2018

Weed Flamers are great to use during the winter and spring months, when weeds are still relatively small. The flamer will actually heat up the plant and cause the cells to burst. When using the flamer you will hear kind of a crackling sound; that is the plants’ cells bursting. On larger weeds, you might need to flame the weeds a couple of times to kill the plant. You never want to use the flamer during dry times and always have a hose set up when using the flamer. Organic herbicides are also great to use but are most effective when weeds are small and applied during a sunny day. They are not selective so apply only on wind-free days. These herbicides also do not translocate (go into the roots) so they will only kill the top portion of the plant.
Week of February 13, 2018

Week of February 13, 2018

If you are unsure of when to start your seeds indoors or when to direct seed, try our Seed Planting Calculator. Go to the top of our site and click Blog, that will take you to our Organic Gardening Resource Center. To the right of the page, click on Find Your Dates. This will take you to the Seed Planting Calculator. The calculator will determine spring or fall planting times based on either your last or first frost of the season. Planting dates are given for Spring Planting dates and are estimates only. For more information, check the back of your seed packs.
Week of February 6, 2018

Week of February 6, 2018

Grapes are a great addition to the edible landscape. They can be planted by an arbor and used as shade or planted along a fence and used as a border. Grapes will grow in zones 6-10 and are pretty easy to grow. Site selection is important, choose a location with full sun and a southern exposure. The soil should have moderate fertility, with a pH of 5.5–7. Soak the roots in water for a couple of hours before planting. Plant at the same level that they were planted in the nursery. You want to initially train your new grape to a single stem. Watch our Planting Grapes video for more helpful information to successfully grow grapes for eating or wine-making.
Week of January 30, 2018

Week of January 30, 2018

Figs can be tricky to get established, especially in very cold regions (zone 6 and colder), however, some figs can be planted in containers and brought into a protected area when temperatures drop below freezing. Not all varieties are appropriate for container growing, however, there are a few varieties that do well in containers. The Brown Turkey fig, Violette de Bordeaux fig and the Black Jack fig are varieties that are container compatible. The container should have drainage holes and of sufficient size to allow for growth; at least a 7–10 gallon pot is suggested for planting your new fig. After a few years, move the fig up into a larger pot (a wheeled pot stand makes moving much easier).
Week of January 23, 2018

Week of January 23, 2018

Planting bare root strawberry starts is easy and most the economical way to go. If you are planting Day Neutral and Everbearing plants the best way to plant those is with the Hill Method. The plants are put closer together (1 foot apart), since they don’t put out as many runners as the June-bearing strawberries. June-bearers should be planted farther apart (2 feet) in the Matted Row Method. Don’t plant too deep or too shallow. Set the plant in well-drained soil so the roots are just covered. Don’t cover the crown, this will cause the plant to rot. Check out our video on Growing Strawberries for more information.
Week of January 17, 2018

Week of January 17, 2018

Raspberries are easy to grow and make a great hedge along a fence. When choosing a location to plant, select an area as far away from any wild berries, and the soil should be well-drained. If your soil is poorly draining, amend with some compost or plant in a raised area. If you don’t plan on planting against a fence, a support structure should be put up to support the plants from falling to the ground. Space your raspberries about 2-3 feet apart and plant at the same level they were planted in the nursery. Mulch around the plants to control weeds and protect from winter injury. Raspberries will put out new shoots (primocanes) the first year and bear fruit the second year on those canes (floricanes).
Week of January 10, 2018

Week of January 10, 2018

Pruning your established blueberry bushes will help to increase fruit production and improve the overall health of your plant. If you live in a mild winter region, pruning can be done during the winter. However, in harsh winter regions, pruning should be delayed until the end of winter or beginning of spring. First remove any dead branches from the plant. Dead or dying branches will be a different color than living tissue. Next remove any root suckers that are growing away from the center of the plant. Cut out any branches that are crossing or rubbing and open up the center of the bush to allow for improved light penetration and air circulation.
Week of January 3, 2018

Week of January 3, 2018

Fruit trees should be pruned from the time they are planted. Early pruning will shape the tree into a desirable structure and will encourage better fruit production and less broken branches later in life. There are three types of pruning systems, Central Leader, Vase or Open Center and Modified Central Leader. The type of tree will dictate the pruning system chosen. Central Leader is best for apples, pears, persimmons and pecans. Vase or Open Center is best for almonds, apricot, cherry, fig, nectarine, olive, peach, pear, plum & pomegranate. Whereas the Modified Central Leader is a good choice for many fruit trees. Apples, pears, peaches and nectarines can be pruned during the winter, but wait until summer to prune apricots, cherries and pluots.
Week of December 20, 2017

Week of December 20, 2017

Bare root trees are shipping out to their new homes and they need to be cared for upon arrival. Take the trees out of the box and inspect them for any damage at the graft, some broken branches are fine, they will regrow quickly in the spring. If you can’t plant your tree in the ground, they should be heeled in to protect the roots until planting time. This can be done outside if the ground is not frozen, or if it is, put them in the garage, covered with loose soil, compost or wood shavings (but not cedar, redwood or rice hulls). Keep the roots moist but not soaking wet. Plant your tree as soon as you can and definitely before it breaks dormancy in the spring.
Week of December 13, 2017

Week of December 13, 2017

It is bare root tree season and here are the essential steps to take when planting your new bare-root tree: When you are ready to plant, soak your tree’s roots in water for a few hours (no more than 24 hours); dig a hole that is saucer shaped (wider than deep); the graft union should be about 2–3” above the ground; if planting a multi-graft tree, position the smallest graft (scion) to the south; amend the soil with compost if the native soil is heavy clay soil or has poor drainage; backfill the soil and gently tamp down; water thoroughly. To help prevent sun scald you can add a tree wrap around the base of the tree.
Week of December 6, 2017

Week of December 6, 2017

The best place to store your firewood is outside, away from the house, instead of stacked right up against the house. Firewood that is stacked right up against the house can give insects an avenue to enter the house or hide out. Insects such as cockroaches, termites, carpenter ants, beetles or pill bugs can take up residence in the wood pile. It is also a good idea to not store firewood inside the home either. Any insects that are dormant in the wood can warm up enough to wake up and take up residence in your home. Stay warm this winter, but keep the bugs outside!
Week of November 29, 2017

Week of November 29, 2017

Blackberries have three possible growth habits—erect, semi-erect or trailing. The way to train and prune them will depend on the type. Dormant pruning of erect blackberries entails removing dead canes and cutting back laterals to 12–18”. Semi-erect blackberries should be thinned to 5 to 8 of the strongest canes and shorten the laterals to 12–18” and remove any growing on the lower 3’ section of the main canes. Tie to a fence or trellis to provide support. Trailing blackberries are less cold tolerant and in cold regions the canes can be left on the ground and protected with rowcover over the winter. In spring the canes can be lifted and tied to a trellis at 3’ and 6’.
Week of November 15, 2017

Week of November 15, 2017

Applying dormant sprays in the fall and winter is a great way to reduce overwintering pests & diseases in the home orchard. Dormant oils are applied when trees have dropped their leaves and are dormant. The oils can be applied when daytime temperatures are over 35-40°F. Dormant oils control aphids, scale, spider mites and many other insects by smothering eggs and larvae. To control diseases such as peach leaf curl, a fungicide is applied multiple times throughout the dormant season. An easy way to remember when to apply is after leaf drop, New Years day (or around that time) and a final treatment on Valentine’s Day (before bud break).
Week of November 8, 2017

Week of November 8, 2017

Garlic plants can withstand cold weather as long as they are not exposed to a sudden drop of freezing temperatures. To help protect garlic from sudden drops in temperatures, apply a thick layer of mulch such as straw mulch (seed-free)—a minimum of 4 inches is recommended, and thicker in regions with harsh winters. In the spring the mulch can be pulled back to allow the soil to warm up faster and also helps avoid excess moisture, which can cause rot. Another benefit to mulching is weed control. Garlic does not like to compete with weeds and it will suffer if weeds are not removed.
Week of November 1, 2017

Week of November 1, 2017

Artichokes are hardy down to zone 6, but they do need care before the cold winter temperatures set in. Cut back last years flower stocks to about 6” and tie up the remaining leaves with a piece of twine. Apply a thick layer of compost around the base of the plant and top off with about 8 inches of straw. Asparagus is hardy down to zone 4 and needs a little care in the fall. When the ferns start to turn yellow to brown, cut them back to about 2 inches. Apply about 2–3” of compost and cover with a mulch such as rice straw to a depth of about 4–6”.
Week of October 25, 2017

Week of October 25, 2017

Some beautiful summer plants like dahlia, gladiolus, tuberous begonia, canna, calla lily, and Elephant Ear are actually either subtropical or tropical plants. Their bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers will not survive if your ground freezes and they should be lifted before that happens. These can be dug up after the plant is killed by frost or after the foliage has dried up. After curing, place in sphagnum peat or vermiculite and store in a cool (45–50°F), dry location over the winter. Monitor over the winter and remove any rotting pieces.
Week of October 18, 2017

Week of October 18, 2017

Fruits stop ripening when temps drop below 50°F, so if you are still warmer than that during the day, best leave the fruit on the vine as long as possible. Remove any new flowers and really small fruit and gradually decrease the amount of water. Once daytime temps are consistently below 50°F and before the first frost, harvest all of the fruit. Place it in a single layer in a box lined with newspaper, and store between 55-70°F. To speed up the ripening process, add a couple of apples to the box. Check weekly for ripened tomatoes and remove any rotted fruit.
Week of  October 11, 2017

Week of October 11, 2017

After you have amended your soil with compost and bone meal or soft rock phosphate, it is time to break apart the cloves. Select the biggest cloves to plant, and soak them in diluted liquid kelp (2-4 Tbs/gallon). You can also add 1 Tbs/gallon of baking soda to your liquid kelp. Soak overnight and plant immediately the next day. Don’t toss out the smaller cloves – grow them to use as garlic chives or garlic scallions. Add a layer of mulch to your garlic bed and you’re done!
Week of October 4, 2017

Week of October 4, 2017

To get that nice white section at the bottom of your leeks plant them deep and continue to hill them through the growing season. Start with a trench or a hole about 6” deep and plant them 2-6” apart. Leeks send their leaves up exactly opposite one another, so position the plants so the leaves face into the rows. As the leeks grow, you can continue to fill in the trench and hill up to get the sweet and tender white stems. You can harvest your leeks when they are about 2” thick.
Week of September 27, 2017

Week of September 27, 2017

Raw legumes in your cover crops need to be inoculated (coated) with rhizobia bacteria in order to fix nitrogen on their roots. Inoculate your seeds right before you are ready to plant. Put your seeds in a bucket or big bowl and either moisten with non-chlorinated water or a mixture of milk and molasses (one quart and 2 Tbs, respectively). Adjust the amount of liquid you add to just moisten the seed. Sprinkle the inoculant over the seeds and stir to coat. Don’t skimp on the inoculant, more is better than not enough. Plant the seeds right away.
Week of September 20,2017

Week of September 20,2017

The summer garden is winding down and it may be time to start removing old or dead plants. Some plants’ seeds can be saved for next years planting. Flowers like marigolds or poppies are easy to save and replant the following year. Beans, okra, corn (if only one variety is planted), peppers and even tomato seeds can be saved. Watch our video, Seed Saving, for some helpful tips and tricks.
Week of September 13, 2017

Week of September 13, 2017

Most pumpkin seeds have a fibrous white hull around the seed. But the Kakai or Lady Godiva pumpkins produce hulless seeds, also called pepitas. The seeds are great toasted with a little olive oil and salt, check out our blog site for a recipe. The only downside to growing these types of pumpkins is that the flesh is kind of tasteless and stringy. But the pepitas make up for that! They can always get added to the compost pile or worm bin.
Week of September 6, 2017

Week of September 6, 2017

Legumes “fix” nitrogen in the soil but they can’t do it without the proper strain of rhizobia bacteria (inoculant). Raw cover crop seed must be inoculated with the proper strain of rhizobia bacteria. All our cover crop seeds list the recommended inoculant to buy for the raw seed. If the seed says “nitrocoated” then the inoculant is already coated around the seed and no further inoculation is needed.
Week of August 30, 2017

Week of August 30, 2017

Winter squash develops a hard skin, which allows for longer storage. Test by pressing your nail against the skin, it should not leave a dent if mature. The skin should be a full rich color and not have any soft spots. If it seems ripe but has soft spots, pick it and eat it right away, cutting away any of the area that may be soft. If harvesting for storage, leave about 3" of stem on the squash when cutting it off the vine.
Week of August 23, 2017

Week of August 23, 2017

If you think it is time to hang up the gardening tools for the year, think again! Fall is a great time to plant veggies and greens that like it a little cooler. You can use our Planting Calculator to see what can be planted in the fall and the times to plant. Some favorite fall veggies to plant are beets, carrots, chard, kale, kohlrabi, greens, lettuce, peas, onions, radishes, turnips and garlic. You can extend your season even further if adding some floating rowcovers or plant in low tunnels.
Week of August 16, 2017

Week of August 16, 2017

Zucchinis are wonderful in the garden but by now you may be getting tired of the same old recipes, or your neighbors and co-workers politely decline your offer of free squash. Well there are endless ways to use zucchini and tons of unique zucchini recipes on the internet. Here is a great site with lots of recipes to use up your squash, http://amysfinerthings.com/zucchini-recipes. If you want to preserve it for later, either cube or shred it (remove excess water first) and put it in the freezer.
Week of August 9, 2017

Week of August 9, 2017

Sweet corn might be ready to harvest. To pick at the peak of sweetness and flavor, harvest early in the morning when the sugar content is at its highest. Also the corn is ready to be picked when the silks have turned brown, are drying up, and the ear feels full. You can peel back the husk on one ear to check the kernel size.
Week of August 2, 2017

Week of August 2, 2017

For cantaloupes and other melons with netted rinds, the color under the netting (ground color) will change to a golden color. Another clue is that the melon easily separates from the stem (slipping). They will also smell sweet and the end will be slightly soft. For watermelons, look for when tendril has dried up. Also where the melon sits on the ground, this spot remains green, as melon ripens it turns a yellowish color (as long as you don’t turn the melon).
Week of July 26, 2017

Week of July 26, 2017

Summer peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots are ripening, but how do you know when to pick at their peak? Well you will need to use your sense of smell, touch and sight. Peaches will smell, well like a peach, they will give slightly when squeezed and no longer have any green undertones. Same holds true for nectarines, except they will smell like a nectarine. Ripe plums and pluots will have a sweet, fruity smell and give slightly when squeezed.
Week of July 19, 2017

Week of July 19, 2017

Cut your tomato from the vine to avoid damaging the plant and the fruit. Handle the tomatoes with care, they bruise easily. If the tomato is at the full firm-ripe stage you can store at 44-50°F for 3-5 days, or for about a day on the counter. Store it with the stem side up. Do not refrigerate, this can effect the flavor and texture of the tomato. If tomatoes are picked before they are fully ripe, leave on the counter to ripen but do not place them in a sunny window.
Week of July 12, 2017

Week of July 12, 2017

Even though the summer garden is in full production by now, it is time to think about planting seeds for a fall or early winter harvest. These vegetables can tolerate some cold temperatures and some even taste better with a little frost. Here is a list of some veggies that can be direct sown now for a fall harvest: beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cilantro, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, spinach, swiss chard or turnips.
Week of July 5, 2017

Week of July 5, 2017

If you see black or rotting bottoms on your tomatoes, peppers or eggplants (less common), it is most likely blossom end rot. It is caused by a calcium deficiency in your plants caused by soil deficiencies or from uneven watering (calcium is not taken up). Mulch around your plants to help conserve the moisture and remove affected fruit. If your soil has sufficient calcium, then no supplement is needed. Deep cultivation can damage roots which will impair nutrient uptake.
Week of June 28, 2017

Week of June 28, 2017

If you are unsure if your garlic is ready to harvest, look for about 3 to 4 dried leaves at the bottom of the plant and dig up a bulb to see if it has sized up. If they are ready to harvest, dig the bulbs up carefully with a garden fork or shovel. Knock of the soil, being careful not to hit the bulb, leaving the roots & stems, and cure out of the sun in a place with good air circulation. You can use fans if needed for improving air flow.
Week of June 21, 2017

Week of June 21, 2017

Table grape vines can be pruned in June to thin out shoots to open up the plant for better sunlight penetration and air circulation. Prune the shoots on the vines, with shoots about 3 inches apart. Cluster thin your vines so you only have one cluster per vine. You can also snip off the bottom of each grape cluster, which will improve the size of the fruit. Remove the suckers growing on the trunk of grape vine.
Week of June 14, 2017

Week of June 14, 2017

June is a good time to thin out your fruit set on your apples, pears and stone fruit. Thin the fruit in the clusters and thin between the fruit. For apples or pears thin to 1-2 fruit per cluster, nectarines and peaches can be thinned to one fruit every six inches. Pick up any aborted fruit on the ground and if there are no signs of disease, you can add it to your compost pile or worm bin or your chickens might enjoy a fruit salad.
Week of June 7, 2017

Week of June 7, 2017

Advantages to pruning out the suckers on your tomatoes are increased fruit size, better air circulation and will help with disease control. The suckers are the stems growing out of the leaf node. You should remove the suckers from the bottom of the plant up to the first flower cluster. Remove them before they get too big, less than 3” long is a good rule of thumb. Determinate varieties should not get pruned, you can leave the suckers on those plants.
Week of May 31, 2017

Week of May 31, 2017

When your garlic scapes have curled down and into a circle you can remove them. Save them and cook them up in a little butter or olive oil. A few weeks before harvesting you should stop watering the garlic. When the garlic plant has about 3-4 dead leaves on the bottom of the plant is when you should at least dig up one bulb to see how it has sized up. If the bulb has plump cloves, then dig them up. If not leave them in the ground a little longer.
Week of May 24, 2017

Week of May 24, 2017

Compost tea is easy to make and customize for your garden’s growth stage; for new plants add some extra nitrogen like a Liquid Fish or when they are putting on blooms or fruit, add some Liquid Bloom. For a foliar feeding of tea you can dilute it 1:10 (tea:water) or for a soil drench dilute it 1:5 (tea:water). Compost tea will add to your soil biology and your plants will really love having a sip of tea this summer!
Week of May 17, 2017

Week of May 17, 2017

Vegetable seeds like beans and corn are best planted directly in the ground when the soil has warmed enough to favor germination. But the new sprouts are vulnerable to pests like birds. They will pluck the newly sprouted seed right out of the ground. Protect your sprouts with bird netting or lightweight floating rowcover, like Agribon AG-15 or AG-19. Leave it on until the sprouts are big enough then birds will not bother them.
Week of May 10, 2017

Week of May 10, 2017

Hardening off” is the process of acclimating your pampered vegetable starts to the outdoors. The process should be gradual and can take place over a weeks time. Start by taking your starts outdoors and introduce them to an hour of sunlight (morning sun is best) and increase the time by an hour each day. By the end of the week they will be have been exposed to 7 hours of continuous sunlight and are ready to go into their permanent location.
Week of May 3, 2017

Week of May 3, 2017

There are some plants that should be started indoors and others that grow really fast and can be direct sown, and some seeds that should always be direct sown. Seeds like cucumbers, squash, melons and beans grow fast and can be direct sown when the soil is warm enough. Others like corn, okra, gourds, and most root crops don’t really like to be transplanted and should always be direct sown.
Week of April 26, 2017

Week of April 26, 2017

Spring is here and so are the flies. When controlling flies, it is important to control the larvae (maggots) and the adults. To control the larvae, fly parasites are the answer. If you have livestock, the fly parasites should be released every 1-2 weeks throughout the season. Release them near a fly breeding site. Adult flies can be caught with traps.
Week of April 19, 2017

Week of April 19, 2017

If you planted a cover crop in the fall and about half of the plants are blooming, it is time to cut it down. The easiest and fastest way to incorporate all of the goodness of the cover crop is to cut it with a weed eater, apply a product to speed up decomposition like our Biodynamic Field Spray (ISO200), and turn it under with either a rototiller or garden fork.
Week of April 12, 2017

Week of April 12, 2017

Nobody likes a wormy apple, walnut or pear. Codling moths are the culprit and they will start their first flight in March to April (depending on the temperatures). Spring is a good time to put out your codling moth traps to monitor for activity. There are several products to control codling moths; the targeted codling moth virus in CYD-X is very effective.
Week of April 5, 2017

Week of April 5, 2017

Wildflowers can be planted in the fall or spring. If you live in regions with harsh winters, it is better to wait until the spring to plant. Areas with mild winters can plant wildflowers in the fall or spring. Wildflowers will grow just fine in native soil, so no need to fertilize. Plant some wildflowers for your hard-working pollinators and to add beauty to your yard.
Week of March 22, 2017

Week of March 22, 2017

"Spring is here and it is a good idea to test your soil for pH and nutrient levels. You can use a DIY test kit to give you basic information like pH, and NPK. Or if you want to complete picture of your soil, you can purchase a professional test. The bottom line on soil testing, is you should test your soil at the same time year after year. Soil is dynamic and it will change throughout the season.”
Week of March 15, 2017

Week of March 15, 2017

Prune your table grapes from January to March by cane pruning. Save 1-2 fruiting canes on each side of the trunk and prune off the rest. Each fruiting cane should have about 15 buds. Also save 2 renewal spurs for every fruiting cane. These will become next years fruiting canes. Watch our video on grape pruning for more information.”
Week of March 8, 2017

Week of March 8, 2017

Get a head start on your spring/summer garden by starting your seeds indoors. There are several seed starting trays to choose from, but I like the Speedling trays. The trays are designed to air prune the starts’ roots. This will direct roots downward instead of spiraling around the cell. They are very sturdy and are reusable year after year.
Week of March 1, 2017

Week of March 1, 2017

Planting bare root strawberry starts is easy and most the economical way to go. Don’t plant too deep or too shallow. Set the plant in well-drained soil so the roots are just covered. Don’t cover the crown, this will cause the plant to rot. Check out our video on Growing Strawberries for more information.
Week of February 22, 2017

Week of February 22, 2017

Care for your established blueberries this spring with a few simple steps. Remove weeds around the plant (hand pulling is best), prune out any dead branches, feed your plants with an acid-loving fertilizer, mulch heavily. If you don’t expect any rain soon, water in the fertilizer. Watch our video on planting bare root blueberries for more tips.
Week of February 15, 2017

Week of February 15, 2017

The first leaves that emerge from a seed are the cotyledons. All the food it needs is contained inside the seed. The second set of leaves are the "true" leaves. When they start to emerge is when the plant should be fed with a diluted (half strength) liquid fertilizer like our Liquid Fish. I like to mix in a little kelp as well to get my seedlings off to a great start.
Week of February 8, 2017

Week of February 8, 2017

Spring onion transplants are planted just like fall onion transplants. Make sure you pick the right variety for your growing region. If you plant short day onions in long-day regions, the onion bulb will be smaller. Conversely, if you plant long-day onions in short-day regions, the onion will grow a lot of leaves but may never produce a bulb.
Week of February 1, 2017

Week of February 1, 2017

If you are unsure of when to start your seeds indoors or when to direct seed, try our Seed Planting Calculator. The calculator will determine spring or fall planting times based on either your last or first frost of the season. The dates given are estimates only. For the most complete information, check the back of your seed packs.
Week of January 25, 2017

Week of January 25, 2017

Gojo berries can be grown directly in the ground or planted in a deep container. You can start your bare root plant in a pulp pot and plant that pot in the ground when the weather is favorable. Goji berries like a pH between 6.8 and 8.1. If you need to raise your pH, try adding some Oyster Shell Lime fertilizer to your soil.
Week of January 19, 2017

Week of January 19, 2017

Artichokes are hardy to zone 6 and can be grown as an annual in colder zones. If you are growing artichokes in areas with mild winters, you can plant artichokes from root crowns during the winter. If you live in an area with harsh winters, you can heel them in a basement or garage, making sure that the roots stay moist and do not freeze.
Week of January 11, 2017

Week of January 11, 2017

Cane berries are not picky with the type of soil they grow in, however, they do need good drainage. If you drainage is poor, amend your soil with some compost, or you can plant in a raised bed that contains soil with good drainage. When you plant your bare root berries, they will develop Primocanes, which are first year growth canes.
Week of December 14, 2016

Week of December 14, 2016

The best time to plant your bare root tree is when it is dormant. Dig a large saucer-shaped hole and plant it at the same depth it was planted in the nursery. If it is a multi-graft tree, orient the smallest graft to the south.
Week of December 7, 2016

Week of December 7, 2016

“Trick” your bulbs to bloom indoors during the winter months for an early spring. Some of the best bulbs to use are Hyacinths, certain Daffodils, Paperwhite Narcissus, some Tulips or Crocuses.
Week of November 30, 2016

Week of November 30, 2016

Apply dormant sprays on dry, windless days. Make sure you thoroughly read the product label and apply accordingly. Also wear your protective gear to prevent exposure! Take care of your trees this winter and they will show their appreciation next summer with a bountiful crop.
Week of November 16, 2016

Week of November 16, 2016

Your composting redworms will tolerate temperatures between 45-80° F, but they do their best work between 55-75°F. If possible, consider moving your worm bin indoors if temperatures drop below freezing. Also keep an eye on the moisture levels and keep the bottom reservoir drained.
Week of November 2, 2016

Week of November 2, 2016

Get your tools ready to be put away for the long, cold, wet winter. Remove any caked dirt from your tools. To prevent rusting, spray with a vegetable-based cooking spray. Clean the wood handles and rub with a natural-based oil.
Week of October 26, 2016

Week of October 26, 2016

Garlic...planting it, eating it, or wearing it around your neck are just a few ways to keep away the vampires on Halloween. Have a happy, safe and vampire-free October 31st!
Week of October 19, 2016

Week of October 19, 2016

Now is the time to prepare your garden for the coming winter. Turn off water timers and drain irrigation lines to prevent damage during winter freezes. Wrap exposed pipes to protect from frost, disconnect garden hoses and store them away.
Week of October 12, 2016

Week of October 12, 2016

Good orchard sanitation is very important in preventing over-wintering of pests and diseases. Pick up dropped, rotting fruit from under trees before winter sets in. Also remove any unwanted fruit still hanging in your trees.
Week of October 5, 2016

Week of October 5, 2016

Garlic should be planted about 2-3 weeks before the first frost arrives. This gives the garlic enough time to put down roots before winter. "Crack" or break apart the bulb into cloves right before planting! Try soaking the cloves in liquid kelp before planting.
Week of September 28, 2016

Week of September 28, 2016

Fall is a great time to plant wildflowers. This gives seeds a little time to get established and also to take advantage of any fall rains. Don't over seed your wildflower mixes, smaller varieties may get choked out if planted too thick
Week of September 21, 2016

Week of September 21, 2016

The best seeds to save are open pollinated or heirloom varieties. Keep in mind if you have more than one variety of vegetable, you might get some cross pollination. This is especially true for squash and corn. The easiest seeds to save are beans, peppers, tomatoes and peas.
Week of September 14, 2016

Week of September 14, 2016

Rebuilding your soil is easy and very economical by using cover crops. Plant a Soil Builder Mix in the fall and come spring, when half of the plants are flowering, chop it down. This will add organic matter and nitrogen to the soil.
Week of August 31, 2016

Week of August 31, 2016

As your summer vegetables are winding down, cool-weathered fall veggies are ready to take their place. Plant radishes, carrots, greens, lettuce, peas and all of the brassicas for a fall/winter harvest.
Week of August 17, 2016

Week of August 17, 2016

Protect your garden, fruit trees & perennials from deer. Most deer can easily jump over a 6 foot fence and will crawl under fences that don’t go to the ground. Since deer have poor eyesight, consider putting colored streamers at the top of your fencing.
Week of August 10, 2016

Week of August 10, 2016

Make sure you look high and low for veggies like cucumbers and squash. If you don’t you may get huge, inedible fruit. If this happens, pick the fruit and add it to your compost pile, feed it to your worms or with squash, make some squash bread!
Week of August 3, 2016

Week of August 3, 2016

Remove the spent flowers from your garden to extend your enjoyment of blooms. As flowers fade and die, pinch of cut off the flower stem just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Leave the spent flowers if you want to save seed.
Week of July 20, 2016

Week of July 20, 2016

Powdery mildew is a common problem on grape vines (and other plants) in the summer. Make sure to complete your summer pruning to increase air circulation in your plants. As a last resort, there are fungicides labeled for powdery mildew.
Week of July 13, 2016

Week of July 13, 2016

Prune suckers off your indeterminate tomato plants. You should not prune your determinate varieties. Pruning will encourage larger fruit and allow better circulation. Remove yellowed or dead leaves from your plant. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the plant that are touching the ground.
Week of July 6, 2016

Week of July 6, 2016

Once your garlic is fully cured, make sure to store it correctly. Store in mesh, paper bags or cardboard boxes in a cool, dry place. Temperatures between 60 - 65°F are best for lengthening your storage time.
Week of June 29, 2016

Week of June 29, 2016

Thin your fruit to avoid broken branches and your fruit will be bigger. Thin apples and pears to 1-2 per cluster. Other stone fruits can be thinned to one fruit every 4-8 inches, depending on the size of the fruit.
Week of June 22, 2016

Week of June 22, 2016

After digging up your garlic, leave the roots & stems and cure out of the sun in a place with good air circulation. You can use fans if needed for improving air flow. A temperature of 80ºF is ideal and about 2 weeks is enough time for curing!
Week of June 15, 2016

Week of June 15, 2016

Throw your plants a compost tea party this summer! Compost tea can be applied as a foliar or soil drench. It is easy to make at home with just a few components and can be customized to your plants' needs.
Week of June 8, 2016

Week of June 8, 2016

In regions with extreme hot afternoon sun, some summer veggies, like peppers, will do better with a little shade. Also you can extend your growing season of your cool season plants by using shade cloth.
Week of June 1, 2016

Week of June 1, 2016

Provide your hard working pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and moths, something to feed on. Plant a variety of flowers, colors and shapes to meet the needs of a variety of pollinators.