When and Where to Use Liquid Organic Fertilizer

While often the fertilizer focus in organic gardening is on compost, manure, cover crops, or the addition of certain minerals, there are also times when liquid organic fertilizers have a place in the yard and garden.  Some of these products can be purchased, and some of them can be concocted by the gardener from items on hand.

There are a number of liquid fertilizers on the market that are approved for organic use.  However, as in all things, there can be too much of a good thing.  Adding more fertilizer to plants than what is needed can cause them to burn or to focus more energy on green growth as opposed to fruit or flowers.

Liquid fertilizers approved for organic use have become more popular, thus there are more on the market.  Check labels carefully on these products to ensure that they are used properly and on the right plants.  Generally, stick to liquid products that are made from natural products as they are more gentle, and slow releasing.  Any amendment that you can find in granular form, can generally be found in liquid form.  Here are a few examples:

Use care when using any of the liquid fertilizers.  Any time that foliage is being sprayed, it should occur early in the morning, or at night when the sun is not likely to promptly evaporate, and possibly burn the foliage. It is also important to use the correct fertilizer in the correct dilution, or it will be a futile effort.

Liquid fertilizer applications often give quick results.  But the organic gardener should be careful not to rely to heavily on this method. The nutrients in the soil are still the most important, and perhaps, digging in a little compost will provide for a plants needs as  effectively, if not as quickly as spraying them will.

This is an effective fertilizer for all plants, shrubs and lawns.  It is just what it says it is.  Ground up fish.  There is a nice balance of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which most plants require.  This is a good product to use either at the root or on foliage.

Kelp is a type of seaweed. It is a good nutrient provider for human and flora alike.  Kelp assists plants in using the nutrients in the soil that are already available.  Best used on flowers and gardens.

This product can be bought commercially, or can be concocted at home.  This is a brew of compost soaked in water, and sometimes aerated that ramps up the usefulness of compost by concentrating it, and making it available for spraying and watering.

Very similar to compost tea, this entails soaking manure in water and using the resultant liquid.  Not glamorous, but effective in giving plants a boost.

Use when plants are under attack.  If there are signs of possible disease or pest problems, a foliar application of fertilizer can help give plants the help they need to strengthen and fight off these problems.

During times of drought. Organic gardening is about watering only when needed, and during particularly dry times, it is necessary to water.  Using liquid fertilizers at this time give an extra bang for your buck.

Use once a month during the growing season to help plant and fruit production move along more quickly.  Want a greener lawn, prettier flowers, or faster harvesting, liquid fertilization may be helpful.

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Garden Tour: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Whenever I travel, I always enjoy visiting Public Gardens.  I used to manage public gardens, so I got lots of great ideas for the garden where I worked at the time. Now, I just enjoy the superb horticulture, and the opportunity to get lots of pictures to share with people. I interned at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in the spring of 2000, and I had not been back since. I was thrilled to see that the garden was just as stunning as usual. Let me take you on a short photo tour.

Marie Selby is known for its Orchid research.  It has one of the largest herbarium collections and collections of orchids in spirits (basically-orchids preserved in liquid for 3-d examination of their structures).  They just published a great new book-The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Illustrated Dictionary of Orchid Genera. Because I could not justify buying the book-though it is SPECTACULAR-I bought the t-shirt with the book cover on the front!

One of my favorite parts of interning at Selby was the chance to teach people about interesting plants. Selby€™s research focuses mainly on orchids and bromeliads, as well as other epiphytic plants. (That means plants that live on other plants.) They routinely send their researchers on plant exploration expeditions and frequently discover new species. When I went out to schools to give presentations, I could request plants from the collection to take with me. This one was one of my favorites. Ants make their home in the big root structure of this plant-you can see the tiny holes they use to reach their homes!

It is always funny to travel to warmer locations and find plants that we consider indoor plants sprawling along the ground as ground covers. This is Golden Pothos. We have several of these hanging out at home.

Another houseplant in the north that thrives in tropical and sub-tropical climates is a ficus tree. Inside, most ficus plants stay under control. Outside, in their preferred climate, they grow and grow up, and down. The picture shown here is of banyan tree roots being trained into an arbor. The tree maintains itself through storms and such by constantly putting down roots and rooting into the ground. In this way, one tree can cover acres of space.

The gardens, on the bay in Sarasota, FL, were the estate of the Selby family before becoming a public garden. In the background is the original house. In the foreground is one of the many live oaks with a collection of bromeliads and orchids growing on its branches.

If you find yourself near Sarasota, FL, the Selby Gardens are worth the price of admission. The tropical house displays fragile, beautiful specimens from the collection. The grounds are right on the bay, providing spectacular views. The horticulture is top-notch. If you love orchids and bromeliads, the shop is a must-see. Bring extra money and space. I dare you to come home without an orchid. (I bought three!)


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How to Sterilize Soil

Soil sterilization is a great technique for organic gardeners to master.For potting soil, you will need a sterile mix to avoid bringing weeds and pathogens into your indoor plants. You may also wish to sterilize outside soil if you wish to start over on a patch of garden. Here is why you might want to sterilize soil, how you can do it and how you build up a healthy population of beneficial organisms after you sterilize the soil.

Soil is full of living things: bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. Many of the organisms in soil help break down larger pieces of organic matter like grass, twigs and bark into small particles of humus, which is the best substance you can have in the soil. These organisms also break down nutrients into forms that plants can more easily take up through their roots. Thats the good part about the living things in soil.

The bad part about living things in soil is that there can be detrimental fungi, bacteria and insects in the soil along with the beneficials. In most garden soil, there is also an abundance of weed seeds. If you are gardening organically, from start to finish, and need to create a new flower bed, one way to rid the bed of weeds is to sterilize the soil. Doing this can save you lots of time and money in the long run. If you are starting your own seeds, you need sterile potting mix so that seedlings do not succumb to damping off, and other life-ending diseases that plague seedlings grown in un-sterile potting mix.

Garden soil is a bit more difficult to sterilize, but it can be done using a process called solarization. This is a method of using heat from the sun to kill disease organisms that cause plant problems like verticillium wilt, root rot, damping off and others. In order for your garden to have the full benefit of solarization, the soil needs to reach a temperature of 114 degrees F (46 degrees C) for at least four to six weeks. Heres how to solarize your soil:

A few notes about sterilizing garden soil: For the most part, beneficial organisms will survive the solarization. You can add humic acid or compost to the soil to put back in the good stuff after youve solarized. It is not a bad idea to test the compost for weed seeds by watering a little and seeing if it grows. You can water with compost tea to add beneficials back as well.

Solarization goes most quickly in the south, during sunny, dry days. For almost every location, it works best in the summer. If you solarize in the summer, try to leave the soil covered with black plastic during the winter, or plant a thick green mulch crop to build up fertility, and keep weed seeds out until you plant the following spring. (Always remove the plastic before planting!)

This is such an interesting article to read upon. Gardening is really enjoyable thing to do. Other than this, this is an activity that is eco-friendly. By doing so, you are saving our nature and environment and it will provide us with fresher air to inhale and prevent flood to occur.


Yikes, goatheads are horrible to have! If it€™s allowed, I would actually burn them with a propane torch – Katie uses it as part of her weed program – http://goorganicgardening.com/weeds/my-gardening-flame-thrower

That looks nasty! You can burn your weeds, solarize, or work on your soil. Im always a fan of working on the soil. Often times, if you have some turf growing, but mostly weeds, the conditions in the soil are better for the weeds to grow than the turf. The way to fix that is to make the soil more hospitable for turf. (Check pH, aerate, add compost, soil test, etc.)

I had no idea I was supposed to be sterilizing my soil.. maybe thats why most of my plants keep dying. I am so thankful for this post– maybe itll turn my gardening season around this spring. Great post!

[…] (haha). Ill be starting my seeds indoors this week. Ive also looked up how to sterilize soil so that I can use it to start my seeds in order to give my plants the best start possible. […]

Dont ever microwave soil. You wont know exactly whats in it, and so there could be some pieces or iron ore, other other metals that will ruin your oven. It also doesnt cook the soil through and will only heat it in places.

Actually, using your microwave is an entirely appropriate, safe and highly effective method of sterilizing soil. The radiation will effectively kill bugs and pathogens that heat alone wont. To ensure even distribution, irradiate a few cups of soil at a time in a glass or ceramic bowl. For an 1100 watt oven, three minutes on high will be sufficient to kill all living things in the soil. Unless you get your soil from a scrap yard, worrying about it being full of metal is rather paranoid, but if for some reason the soil you chose does contain metal, your microwave will start ‘crackling – simply shut it off, no harm done.

Hi Cheryl, Viruses are different to bacteria in that theyre not truely alive and need another healthy cell to feed off and reproduce. That means that viruses generally dont hang around in soil, but in the plants themselves. Sterilization will kill the virus, but I think youre basically going to have to dig up the infected plants in the area, set up a quarantine (dont plant anything else there for 1-3 months) and then start again. You may have to burn the infected plants if its serious enough – as disposing of them any other way will just spread the virus. – Chris

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Building a Water Garden Pond

Building a water garden pond in your own backyard is something many dream about, but few accomplish. Many factors work together and help to put people off starting the process, and yet others are daunted when they are faced with a choice of pond kits and don€™t know how to start choosing which one will be right for them.

Price is often a sticking point, decisions about where the pond and waterfall would be located in the back yard (or even front). Labour costs, cost of delivery of the items, the logistics involved in a DIY job which require heavy lifting equipment. Then there is the cost of water, considerations regarding planting, how to do it and how to maintain the pond. And that is before you even start buying the Koi to swim in it.

1. Decide what your budget is for the project €“ Best advice here is a DIY project costs less than a professionally laid out job, simply because you save on the labor costs €“ do not try and save on the cost of the materials. For long term satisfaction and cheapest installation €“ buy the very best materials you can afford. Think long term and in terms of cost-spreading over a long period of time rather than the initial short term expense. For example; buying a rubber liner costs more up front, but lasts more than twice as long as your other options.

2. Decide where you would want it to be located. Look at the proposed site from both inside and outside of the house €“ view the area through your €˜common space€™ windows and make sure that you €“ and not your neighbors, are getting the most benefit from your investment.

3. Choose what type of do it yourself waterfall you want to have in your water feature. The decision about the waterfall governs the size of the pump that you will need to choose in order to give you optimum water flow and filtration. Likewise €“ the budget you will set aside will govern, ultimately, the size feature and thus the size waterfall you can install.

4. Choose a water garden pond kit instead of trying to purchase all the liners, pumps and filtration units as separate items over a period of time. You actually spend less by saving up and then buying a kit outright that suits your budget than doing it piecemeal. By the time you can afford the next bit of kit, you may well have to go back to square 1.5 to install it. This wastes time, which ultimately costs money.

5. Do not skimp on €˜small€™ items such as liner sealing kits. Water creeps out of a liner if the edges of two sections are not made watertight. Water is expensive and the price of the sealant kit is less than constant refilling and losing your fountain because the water level has dropped below critical level.

6. Planting your water pond need not be as expensive as you think. Much of the expense of setting up the plants in and around the water is the purchase of exotic plants and imports. Buy local plants which grow well and suit your environment. While not quite as spectacular (because you see them around you every day), they are more likely to survive the local conditions and weather. Choose plants which are suited to a wet environment.

7. Do not be afraid to call in a professional consultant. Suggestions and constructive comment before you start a project can mean the difference between success and failure when building a garden pond. Sometimes pod equipment suppliers will have a consultation available both in-store and online who can advise you. If you choose buy the your equipment from them, you can even get that advice for free.

In short, it pays to do your homework and plan out your project before you start. You will be rewarded in the end with an amazing water feature if you carefully plan ahead before you start digging up your yard. The end result will be a great place to go, sit back, relax and forget the worries of the business of life. The sound of the water lapping against the rocks will drown out the sounds of the human world. Even though this oasis is manmade, when properly planned and built, your created water garden feature will become part of nature€™s beauty for you to admire for years to come.

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Composting with Worms

We€™ve lately had a few questions about composting with worms. Can you put them in a tumbler? Will they get too hot? How do you compost with worms? (Disclaimer: I am not yet a worm farmer, but I have turned to one of my most trusty sources: The Rodale Book of Composting to bring you some answers.) I just built my own compost pile, about which I will write this week, including pictures. It is quite the piece of sculptural wonder. (NOT!) However, hopefully, it will make me some yummy compost. My neighbor with the most beautiful vegetables in the world was scoffing at my soil yesterday. It€™s time to show him what€™s what. Back to worms!

Conveniently, this relates to my blog post about humic acid. Worms are a one way short cut to your own pile of humus in your yard, worm bin, etc. Humus is compost at its finest: a poorly understood (in terms of science), but hugely beneficial concoction that happens when organic matter is broken down into its most highly digested form. Worm castings (worm poo!) are a rich source of humus, and much cheaper than purchasing a soil conditioning product with humic acid in it. (Although, if you don€™t want to farm worms, a soil conditioning product with humic acid does actually work and is worth the money. I know, because I helped plant some things in impossibly terrible soil about a month ago, and we added a great soil conditioner, which has already helped the soil start morphing into something plants can grow in, not die in.)

Your garden will grow large and lovely with worm castings as part of the soil mix. The Rodale Compost book has great info about a study from the 1940s that compared agricultural plots with worms and without worms, and otherwise similar soil and crops. You guessed it: a year later, the area with worms produced healthy, lush growth of barley, bluegrass and lespedeza, while the plot without worms grew only weeds.

Worms are also a great way to compost/digest your kitchen scraps. You can feed worms banana peels, among other things, which take quite a while to bread down in a regular compost pile. You can even keep a bucket of worms under the kitchen sink for instant gratification re: cleaning up the kitchen.

You can make a lovely little worm bin to keep under your sink, which makes worm composting convenient. To build an indoor worm bin, check out our post last December about building an indoor worm farm.

Eisenia Foetida do very well in a compost tumbler as long as;there€™s enough moisture (damp not wet); nothing too €œhot€ (fresh manure); don€™t turn the drum too often; and have a large enough system to insure gradual changes in their environment.
I live in western Washington, and the tumbler is in full sun and I€™m always supplying others with €œlivestock€.

Worms cannot tolerate soil/compost temperatures above 100 degrees F. That means, you can€™t just dig a hole in your steamy compost pile and dump the worms in, because they will die. You also shouldn€™t put worms in your compost tumbler, because the tumblers heat up quite rapidly in during the summer.

If your compost pile doesn€™t have a concrete or wood bottom, worms will naturally migrate up through the pile, until they reach a point where the temperature is too hot.

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Orchids for Beginners

The last post was all about interesting attributes and intriguing stories about orchids. Now that your appetite is expanding for orchids, we €™ll teach you how to grow them! There are lots of interesting species orchids, but the easiest to grow are some of the new hybrids. Once you get your feet wet with the orchids described below, you can branch out into more interesting varieties. You will have the confidence and the green thumb to keep growing.

There are a lot of ways you can describe a Phalaenopsis orchid.Some people call them the Yews of Orchids. (Meaning, they are so common, like foundation plantings of yews, that they aren’€™t interesting.) Their common name is the €œMoth Orchid, € because the flowers look like moths. These days, you can get these orchids at anywhere from Smith and Hawken to Home Depot. They come in every imaginable color. Here are the details you need to grow them.

Growing Medium: This depends a lot on your individual watering habits. If you tend to over-water, you will want to plant your orchid in medium sized bark. If you under-water, you can pot in moss, which retains moisture. Because the moth orchids are epiphytes (grow on trees), they do not like to sit in wet soil.

Pruning: Does not need to be pruned frequently. You may prune off flower stalks that are completely brown, but leave stalks that are still green so that they my photosynthesize and feed the plant.

P.S. A shout-out to my Mother in Law, Susan, who wrote to me yesterday to inform me that her orchid that has been in bloom since MAY just started to go out of bloom. I think she has a Phalaenopsis. If you can beat that record, feel free to let me know by commenting here. Great Job Susan!

Orchids are such beautiful plants. Your article will undoubtedly encourage many to try growing them. They are really not deserving of their difficult to grow reputation. They just need proper conditions and care.

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Organic Corn Red Martian

Nothing tastes better than corn freshly picked from the garden! Have some fun in the vegetable garden this summer by growing your own corn. For something different on your table, try the Red Martian€ variety of organic red corn from Park Seed. Kids will especially love this tasty treat. Corn named after an alien. Sign me up! In addition to the great taste, the burgundy color of the leaves contrasts nicely with your other garden plants. Here’s how to grow it:

This corn takes 100 days from seeding to maturity. That is roughly three months, plus a few days. So, the time to plant this corn for a succulent fall harvest is NOW! Corn is wind-pollinated, so it is important to plant them close together. If you have limited space to plant corn, it is better to plant it in four foot by four foot blocks (like square foot gardening), for best pollination. Corn is a heavy feeder, so be sure to amend your soil with plenty of compost before planting. Additionally, plant corn in a location with full sun all day.

Red martian corn is ready to harvest as soon as the silks start to barely try at the very tips. You can also dry this corn for fall displays. Park Seed recommends steaming this corn, rather than boiling it, so that you don’€™t lose all of the red coloring in the water.

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Green Versus Brown Compost Materials

Composting in your garden is very easy to do, however, to achieve quick and optimal compost, it should be well balanced with green and brown waste materials.

What are green versus brown materials, and why should you care? Think of compost as a healthy meal for your soil life €“ those worms and microbes that do the actual work of turning your waste into dark, rich compost. Just like anybody or anything else, a proper diet is essential for growth and health. Humans can€™t live on only french fries (though that would be great!) €” in the same vein, composting microbes can€™t only live on grass clippings. They need both green and brown ingredients.

Brown is the carbon energy the compost microbes need to thrive. Without it, your pile of green kitchen scraps will become smelly and slimy. This is because your greens will decompose too quickly through the bacteria already in the materials, rapidly fermenting nitrogen into the rotten egg smell of ammonia.

You want enough brown materials for the good bacteria and microbes to have enough energy to multiply and slow down the release of nitrogen. The layering effect of compost is a natural way to do this.

If your compost has a rotten rather than rich, earthy smell, add some more brown materials to the mix. Stir it as well, as a lack of oxygen also contributes to unpleasant smells.

Nitrogen is the protein the munching microbes need to thrive. Too little nitrogen, and your pile will decay into compost a lot more slowly, though it eventually will. The microbes will be fewer and weaker, so it could take a year or two in a mainly brown compost pile to turn into rich compost. A well-balanced compost will be hot, due to all those microscopic bodies busily multiplying and feasting for you!

A number thrown around is 25 to 30 parts brown to 1 part green. This doesn€™t mean throwing in a massive amount of browns and only a tiny but of green €“ instead, it refers to carbon versus nitrogen, not the organic matter you throw in the compost. Everything is made up of carbon, greens and browns. Green just happens to have more nitrogen in it because €” well, the green color partly gives it away. Seriously, though, all living things are a mixture of carbon and nitrogen, and after death, the nitrogen is released, turning green grass and leaves brown. Coffee grounds and manure are good examples of nitrogen-rich but non-green products.

Equal amounts brown and green will achieve the proper ratio of 30:1. Well, close enough. Let€™s not make things overly complicated €“ a good rule of thumb is to add a bit more brown material than green.

Add some water, turn your compost every couple days, and viola, after a few weeks or months you will have a great source of soil conditioner and organic fertilizer for your garden and vegetable plants! The richer and more varied the compost diet, the healthier the environment for your microbes to thrive in.

[…] then started building the bin by creating layers of €œbrowns€ (carbon) and €œgreens€ (nitrogen). It€™s important to have a balance between these materials for the composting process to occur […]

[…] It€™s kind of alarming when you realize that you generate more brown waste than green waste (here is an explanation of what€™s €œgreen€ and what€™s €œbrown€ for the […]

I would like to use the evergreen spruce) needles that have fallen off for composting. Is that considered brown material (they are dry & brown) or is that considered off limits?

[…] a sink full of water for a bit for the worm€™s bedding. Per these directions, we also put some €œgreen€ compost in the bin on top of the bedding. Since we produce so much more green compost than the worms can […]

[…] Frank saw an opportunity to use some of our chippings with the gathered grass to ensure a good green/brown mix, which would ensure maximum quality compost for top dressing plants. Mark, Peter and James […]

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Organic Gardening Ebook

Let me take a wild guess, you’ve slaved for hours already over your dream of producing tasty, healthy organic food – but you you just haven’t had the right results;

If you answered YES to any of the above, I feel your pain! You see, I used to be exactly where you are. That’s why I put up this site: to help folks like yourself get the job done cheaply, fast and without headaches, every time, using my never-before published organic gardening tips!

When I started my first organic garden, almost 10 years ago, I thought I had it all figured out. 6 exhausting months later, the results were poor – I thought I had it all figured out, only to find that I’ve got it all WRONG. So I decided to find a better way.

For the past 6 years, I’ve spent thousands of hours sweating, testing and researching organic gardening techniques. In most cases I had to start from scratch, because most tips on the market left me with questions – not answers! No wonder gardening seemed so hard!

This e-book will teach you how to create and maintain your own fully functioning, self supporting, carbon neutral, organic garden that produces great results every time – GUARANTEED!

Save yourself hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of dollars by becoming a healthy gardener, saving money by cutting out fertilizer and pesticides – and your entire grocery bill!

How to Master Organic Gardening is an easy to follow guide to quickly get you gardening without chemicals – even if you have never touched a plant in your life!

Hobbyists and professionals alike have benefited
greatly from my organic gardening tips. Just take a look at some of these
reviews, which continue to flow into my e-mail box…

“When I downloaded my copy of How to Master Organic Gardening, I wondered whether this would be another fluffy e-book written by someone who had no particular skill in writing or in gardening. It didn’t take long to see that this author team not only knows what they’re talking about, they provide thorough information and a variety of important resources. They also write clearly and explain everything thoroughly without talking down to the reader….

“Perhaps you’re an experienced gardener who is just now getting into organic methods. You’ll learn a lot from this book. Or maybe you’re a total beginner, essentially clueless about the meaning of such terms as compost, soil compaction, and brown rot. This book is also for you. If you’re already an expert organic gardener, you don’t need this book. But think about the people you know who could use a primer; this book is for them.”

“Bravo! I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to read an organic gardening book that was so simple, straightforward, and easy to follow. The whole book is logically laid out, each chapter builds well upon the next, leading a gardener at any level of experience to use this book as an effective reference tool. This How-To book should be kept handy near the potting bench!”

“This is such an excellent, inspiring and informative book – I genuinely, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. (My father spent hours in the garden and now I understand his fascination.) It is well presented and in a friendly way with lots of great, clear and useful diagrams. Then there are also many pictures showing clearly what is being talked about.

Everybody used to garden the natural, healthy way until the early to mid 20th century, with the rise of industrial farming and the mentality of “man’s triumph over nature.” We all now know how wrong and damaging this view is. Organic gardening is all about working with nature and realizing that the cycle of life can not be replished with the application of synthetic “weed and feed.” Like most things in life, “quick fix” solutions do not solve any problems in the long run – they make it worse. If you have applied chemicals to your lawn year after year, this is likely why you have to use more and more to achieve the same results. Your soil is near death, and can no longer support the grass above it.

You likely know that garden-fresh vegetables taste better than store-bought, and do you know why? Home-grown veggies taste better simply because they contain more nutrients. The quality of the soil is what makes your food.

Synthetic fertilizers do not add organic matter to the soil – instead, they mainly add nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium – nor do they replenish the hundreds of micro nutrients needed for well-rounded, nutrient-rich food. Not enough nutrients in the soil means that crops are more susceptible to disease and insects. Thus, large-scale use of pesticides are essential to keep our commercial food going.

The result? Lots of food, but most of it is saturated with pesticides and lacking in a lot of the micro-nutrients and antioxidants we need to stay healthy.

Do you love butterflies? Who doesn’t! If you’re going organic, a butterfly garden is a must! Not only will butterflies liven up your yard, they will bring hours of delight to you and your family. Watch in fascination as your resident larvae encase themselves in gorgous chysalids, to miraculously emerge as colorful, gorgeous butterflies!

This detailed, 33 page guidebook describes the butterfly lifecycle, how to prepare a space in your garden, types of plants to attract butterflies and their young, and fascinating facts about butterfly life. Comes with dozens of full color photographs of butterflies and visual guides on plants to attract them.

Learn how to properly plant, care for, harvest, prevent disease and save the seeds of such popular vegetables as tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, spinach, corn, carrots, potatoes and many more!

If you are not satisfied with How to Master Organic Gardening, you have an entire year in which to return it for a full refund! I certainly understand that organic gardening takes time, so if you not satisfied with the results by the following year, I will gladly give you your money back!

This complete package of organic gardening guides usually go for at least $47 in stores, plus shipping and handling if you order online. However, if your order today you will receive “How to Master Organic Gardening”, and “All About Buttefly Gardening” and “Organic Vegetable Gardens: An Easy Reference Guide,” all for only $17!

With an entire year to decide if organic gardening is right for you, there is no risk! We want you to succeed, for going organic one person at a time is the best way to save our health and the health of the planet. Cut out the expense of fertilizer and pesticides, grow tastier and juicier vegetables, and learn how to make your garden healthy and in tune with the natural environment!

(Hint: Chapters 3 and 4 are all about soil and making compost, including types of compost bins, what to put in it, how to layer, and answers to common problems.)

(Hint: you have an entire army at your disposal! In Chapter 12, we give you a visual primer on the common types of “good” bugs, and from pages 75 to 77 we present a list of safe, home-made and time-tested insecticide recipes from such ingredients as chives, soap, lemon juice and hot peppers, among other common household ingredients.)

(Hint: by practicing organic gardening, your soil will retain nearly 200 pounds of water for every 100 pounds of soil. Convention gardening? Almost zero. Chapter 13 is all about organic lawn care.)

(Hint: on page 84 we give you a tested 3-year plan to eliminate 95% of the weeds in your lawn. While weeds will appear wherever there is exposed soil (such as in flower and vegetable gardens), you can teach your lawn to crowd out and ultimately kill most weeds. This is why grass is the preferred plant for open spaces.

(Hint: Chapter 14 is all about organic vegetable gardening. We delve into common organic practices such as intercropping, companion planting and organic fertilizer techniques to grow the best possible vegetables for your family and friends.

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Organic Fertilizer

The key to successful flowers and vegetables in your organic garden is healthy soil first, organic fertilizer second. In fact, the improvement of the soil is what organic gardening is all about. Experienced gardeners know that feeding the soil is what helps plants grow and thrive. Adding liquid organic fertilizer is another great method during the growing season.

All fertilizers contain trace elements of minerals, which plants need in small quantities. The three major nutrients are shown on all fertilizer packages (organic and chemical), often as three numbers, which are percentages of the total package. In order of these numbers, they are:

However, plants also need a variety of micronutrients in trace amounts that are just as essential to proper growth and production. Not just that, the soil itself needs to have good structure to hold these minerals, excellent water-retention abilities and pockets of oxygen. Synthetic fertilizer can not achieve this. Fortunately, orgamic materials do, and as an organic gardener, this is what you will be concentrating on.

Adding organic matter, usually through compost and composting manures, are the main sources of soil fertility. These organic materials provide food to earthworms, beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms in the soil. All these creatures, seen and unseen, break soil down into compounds and nutrients in the decay of this material, nutrients that can then be absorbed into the plants roots.

Organic matter also improves soil structure and texture, allowing the ground to better retain water and allow pockets of oxygen to exist. Both soil microbes and plant roots need oxygen to survive.

By adding organic matter once or a few times per year, you will not only create great soil that supports healthy plants, but you will also solve most of the problems experienced by conventional gardeners, such as disease, insect infestations and low vegetable yields.

Compost is the best all-purpose organic fertilizer out there, and can be used on all plants. Compost is generally not considered a fertilizer because it is used more to increase the bulk€ of your soil. However, it is a vital component in your garden because it increases the health and richness of your soil. Think of it as the construction material of your soil and the protein for the earthworms and microbes found in your soil. These organisms in turn unlock the minerals and nutrients found in the decayed organic material in the compost and surrounding soil.

A highly concentrated liquid brewed in water using a special blend of compost. Sprayed on plants and soil, compost tea has been shown to suppress disease, fight toxins, and increases nutrients available to the plants. Some gardeners say it makes vegetables taste even better.

Corn gluten meal has been shown to be a great pre-emergent natural herbicide, meaning it does not allow a weed seed to germinate. Studies show it does take a few seasons, with a 60% effectiveness rate after the first season, and over 90% after the third season. As a bonus, corn gluten meal is an excellent source of nitrogen for existing turf! Note that it should be used on existing lawns. Wait 4-6 weeks before seeding your lawn with new grass.

It is also a good idea to test your soil.€“ Weeds take over lawns mainly because the pH of the soil is not balanced, encouraging weeds that prefer acidic or alkaline soils. By knowing how to rebalance the soil, you encourage the strong growth of your lawn, crowding out existing weeds.

A special blend of compost is used in this mix, including humus (the final product of compost), worm castings (yes, nutrient-rich worm poop!), and calcium for root growth and minerals. Coir is added to keep the soil light and fluffy, allowing for long-term water retention.

You can, of course, mix organic potting yourself yourself. If you have ready-made compost, simply mix with coir or vermiculite and builder€™s sand to create a loose, fluffy soil with high water-retention and spaces for oxygen€“ a perfect combination for houseplants.

Using compost helps condition the soil in your flower beds, allowing it to better retain moisture and allowing roots to grow faster and grab essential nutrients. Special organic mixes are measured with the right mix of essential minerals based on the type of plant. Compost and natural meal additives also do the same thing. Two important meals include:

Nitrogen is what gives plants their green vibrancy, and is available in many different forms. Nitrogen is broken down into nitrates, which are water-soluable and absorbed through the roots. If you previously resorted to chemical fertilizers, be aware that most organic fertilizer is slow-release, as nature intended. This means your plants will not burst into leafy glory as quickly, but then, you place too much stress on the plant if you do.

Do not use fresh manure on your garden, as the nitrogen content is too high, and could burn your plants,€“ not to mention the smell and risk of pathogens. Blood meal is a great nitrogen additive, as is guano (usually bat or seagull.) Finally, green manure is the practice of growing nitrogen-producing ground cover, such as alfalfa or clover, then plowing them into the ground (or adding them to the compost), as a source of nitrogen.

, a natural plant growth hormone. Alfalfa meal contains millions of beneficial microbes, which upon contact with the soil will immediately convert soil ingredients into plant-available nutrients. In fact, many gardeners have reported their soil heating up due to the activity, so either dust it lightly on top of the soil (within and the heat might damage the roots) or, better yet, mix it with compost tea for an energy boost. Also, add to your compost pile.

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