|Â Dear Reader,
I hope you got my email explaining that our website has been very sick with a nasty virus.Â I am glad to say it is now disease free and recuperating nicely.Â It will be a few more days before it is fully recovered and up on its feet.Â If you need to order urgently, phone Moria 1-800-798-8878 or emailÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are difficult times.Â The greed and self-interest of a few has brought the economic system to its knees.Â Fear rules the market.Â While we cannot avoid these realities, it is essential not to be swept up in the waves of panic and desperation.Â We have to cultivate our own inner garden of peace, just as we cultivate our own outer gardens.
March is a keyÂ month, a time to plan and get active.Â Start seeds inside and out (if you have not done so already).Â At the very least, ready some containers and plant with salad greens and radishes.Â My own seed trays are full and my greenhouses are beginning to fill up.Â In these uncertain times, it is good to feel prepared for any eventuality.
With hints form last months article, you should have some garden beds prepared.Â Now you need to get your hands dirty andÂ
get to know your soil.Â This months article gives simple ways to develop a genuine feel for your soil.Â It does not rely on fancy tests but focuses attention on the essentials: soil texture and composition.Â Next months article will take it a further step to explore how to exercise and feed your soil with cultivation and amendments.
Our new productÂ SuperStart for PlantsÂ is turning out to be a winner.Â I sprinkled a little on an over-wintered tomato plant thatÂ was on its last legs —Â covered in spider mites, yellow crinkly leaves.Â Now, as you can see, it is growing strongly in our sunroom and even setting fruit.Â I am looking forward to sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes in April!
I love this time of year as the Earth begins to shake off the apathy of Winter.Â I feel a new energy and enthusiasm rising as I hear the call: GET PLANTING!
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|Offer Expires: April 15th 2009
March Garden Tasks
(15th March to 15th April)
March is a tricky month so use your experience to decide what, when and how to plant.
Tip: Risk an early planting of a portion of seeds or seedlings — save enough in case of a killing frost.
Vegetable seeds indoors:Â eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, basil.Â Soak peas and germinate in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
Flower seeds indoors:Â Half Hardy Annuals — snapdragon, begonias, aster, impatiens, lobelia, petunia, hollyhock, alyssum, etc.Â Try germinating as above.
Vegetable seeds outdoorsÂ (temperatures over 40 degrees): beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, arugula, mesclun, lettuce, onions, parsnips, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, turnips, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, thyme, oregano, sage.
Flower seeds outdoors:Â Hardy Annuals — sweet pea, larkspur, bachelor’s button, calendula, violas.
Roots, tubers and plants outdoors:Â onion sets, seed potatoes, rhubarb burls, shallots, strawberry plants, grapes (mulch grape roots), tarragon.
Ornamentals:Â cut back ornamental grasses, transplant shrubs and roses that need to be moved.
Bountea Compost Tea:Â Time to set up the brewer and give your soil and seedlings that first essential dose of Bountea Compost Tea.Â Â Include Root Web and M3 in the correct proportions and soak around the base of trees, shrubs and perennials.Â Apply everywhere you expect to plant later in the spring.
Tip: Signup for reminders and special advice on when and how to apply Bountea Compost Tea.Â Click onÂ Update Profile/Email AddressÂ at the bottom of this page.
|Knowing your Soil from the Inside Out
To be an organic gardener or grower, you need to know your soil intimately. Tests for soil NPK provide basic chemical information, but do not give a hands-on feel for what is happening beneath the ground.Â For that you have to train both your senses and your soil intuition.
The look and feel of your soil contains amazing amounts of information.Â With some simple procedures, you can easily track your soil’s fertility.Â All you need is basic equipment – a gardening trowel, measuring cup, newspaper, a one-pint glass jar and your senses of sight and touch.
First, collect three soil samples for comparison.Â Dig a cupful of damp soil from the top 3″ layer of the most productive area of your garden.Â This is probably one you have culti
vated for at least a season.Â Then take a cupful from the least fertile, barren section and a last one from some place that grows moderately well.Â Soil is dynamic, always changing.Â You want to get a good sense of the base-line nature of your soil.Â Then, as you amend and nurture, you can appreciate how it changes.
Lay out your samples on a large sheet of newspaper, making three small heaps.Â Look at each soil sample in turn, noting its color, composition and how it compares with the others.Â Take your time.Â Closely examined each heap, feel its texture and rub it gently between your fingers.Â Leave the samples for a couple of hours to dry out and again check the color and texture.
your moderately fertile sample and shake it up with 2 cups of water in a pint jar, until it is well suspended.Â Leave it to settle for about 4 hours.Â You should be able to see different layers of particles with the larger ones at the bottom.
During the whole testing process, hold these questions in your mind: what differences can I notice between my fertile and infertile soils?Â What is the basic nature of my soil?Â If I were a plant, how would my roots experience this soil?Â From a more technical perspective, you want information about the five basic soil elements: humus, water, air, soil life and minerals.
First, notice the color differences between your samples.Â Rich fertile soil has a dark brown hue due to the presence of humus-based carbon.Â As you rub the soil between your fingers, it should feel slightly soft and leave a blackish film similar to charcoal or dark pencil on your skin.Â This tells you that humus is present.Â If not, your soil is mostly devoid of organic content.
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Care for theÂ soilÂ and care for theÂ EarthÂ withÂ BounteaÂ gardening products.