-Ryan Blankenship- The very first step in determining if your soil is ready for planting is to simply dig yourself a small hole where you would like your planting site to be. By digging this small hole, you will be able to determine if you have loose or clay soil. Like many people in our area, we typically have a lot of red clay where we would like to plant. I also like to send a soil sample out to our state agricultural extension program to get tested to understand the NPK … [Read more...] about How to Tell if Your Garden Soil Is Ready for Planting
-Sally Watkins- Compost is all the rage in the sustainability and permaculture communities, but what can compost do for you and your home garden, and how can you produce it on a small scale? In this blog post, we are going to discuss how to get your compost tumbler or pile to create rich, nutritious compost as efficiently as possible, and finish up with a great recipe for compost tea. If you have a yard with some space away from your house, the simplest way to compost is to create a basic … [Read more...] about Compost: Yes, You Can Make it Yourself (and compost tea too!)
-Patrick Metz- This past weekend we had the folks from Mountain Gate Organics over at the Charlottesville store talking worms, soil, and biology. In anticipation of the day, we had made a couple hundred gallons of compost tea and were giving it away to any interested gardeners. Even more exciting was a little display we had set up with a microscope connected to a computer screen. Underneath the microscope two drops of the tea (made from worm castings and molasses introduced into water and … [Read more...] about It’s Soil, Not Dirt… And It’s Alive!
-Luis Guerra- Every spring, many of us rush out to our local garden centers in search of rich organic compost for amending our home gardens. We typically encounter many brands of bagged compost that are derived from different organic sources. Hopefully we find a local, regional, or even national organic copost brand that we can trust, depending on where we shop. But what if you could make your own compost with just a few square feet of space in your home or garage? What if I told you that … [Read more...] about Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
-Gabrial House- With spring approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your garden, and the best way to help your plants fight off heat, high humidity, and the dry soil that’s sure to come. For me, the best route to take is treating my garden to a fresh batch of compost tea. As the name implies, compost tea is made by steeping compost in water, and using the resulting liquid gold on or around your plants. Most of us know the benefits that compost provides to our garden soil, but … [Read more...] about Compost Tea Made Easy
-Chris Amaya- With spring almost over, and the sun soon to be getting too hot for comfort during mid-day, its easy to accidentally forget to water the garden. Fortunately there is a natural buffer that allows plants to stay hydrated longer while simultaneously benefiting soil biology. Mulching the areas around established plants before pesky weeds can germinate will be your saving grace this season. Without mulching, these small, weedy plants can turn into big competition for your … [Read more...] about Mulch Much?
-Patrick Metz- I am getting ready to start a new garden plot. For years I have employed a technique known as double-digging to get started. The concept is simple and effective. The goal: create a deep bed of loose, well-amended soil without harming and undoing the work of the biology already in the soil - earthworms, microbes, fungi. This technique creates a beautifully cultivated plot and an excellent rooting zone for your future plants. So what's the catch? It is labor intensive and … [Read more...] about Raised-Bed Gardening
-Gabrial House- Compost is one of the most nourishing and critical elements to a good organic garden. Compost not only feeds the plant in the garden it also feeds all of the wonderful creatures and bacteria that make living soil so vital and rich. Compost aids in aeration, water retention, as well as keeping the soil’s PH at a level the plants most prefer. Lots of good compost can even keep your plants disease- and pest-free! Let’s take a look at what it takes to make good compost from … [Read more...] about A Guide to Simple Composting
You may not think there’s much to do in the garden at this time of the year, but there is. The preparations you do now will pay off in the form of a healthier garden with less work during the growing season. Here’s some things you can do to get ready (besides starting seeds!). WORK ON YOUR HARDSCAPE & STRUCTURES This is a great time of year to work on your hardscape elements such as repairing raised beds, building rock walls, putting up trellises, etc. Typically, garden structures … [Read more...] about February Garden To Dos
Fall is a great time to think about improving your soil’s health. We have all kinds of great resources at our finger tips this time of the year including leaf mulch, moisture, aged compost (hopefully you’ve been working on this), and cover crops. This is the time of year when your trees and perennial shrubs put their energy into their root systems. They have just spent the last growing season using up many of the nutrients in the soil they are growing in. In the natural world, say an … [Read more...] about It’s time to improve your soil’s health