Tag: jobe’s

Fertilizer Test

Whew. What a summer. It’s like Mother Nature has a magnifying glass pointed right at the central U.S. Here in Arkansas the growing season started about a month early this year. We were planting tomatoes in March and by the end of May it was as hot as July.

When the forecast is hot and dry for the foreseeable future the best thing for the vegetable garden is consistent, even moisture and an organic, water soluble or slow release fertilizer that won’t over stimulate heat and drought stressed plants.

My fertilizer of choice for edibles is Jobe’s Organics Vegetables and Tomatoes. It’s organic, but produces quick results. The granular and stakes are slow release and there is a new water soluble version too that’s perfect for our current weather.

The reason Jobe’s is my choice is it’s organic and it works. I can see the difference in the health of my plants and the flavor of the vegetables they produce.

This year I decided to put Jobe’s to the test to see how vegetables fed with Jobe’s matched up to those that went without. In early May I set up an experiment by planting two 6’x6′ raised beds with tomatoes and peppers. I added Jobe’s Organics Vegetables and Tomatoes granular fertilizer to the experimental bed and left the control bed unfertilized.

Over the summer, I’ve continued feeding with Jobe’s Organics water soluble. It’s easy to do with a hose end feeder, but you can also mix it up in a watering can.

In spite of the horrendous heat (11 days of near 100 and above 100 degree temperatures), both beds have continued producing a harvest, but the Jobe’s tomatoes and peppers are more robust and flavorful.

Are you curious how your vegetable garden would perform with Jobe’s Organics Vegetables and Tomatoes? Tell me how your garden is growing in the comments below for a chance to win a bag! Congratulations to Christine! She’s the winner of the Jobe’s Organics Fertilizer. Thank you to everyone for entering. Sounds like the heat and drought aren’t keeping you guys out of the garden!

Click here to find a store in your area that sells Jobe’s Organics.

Fertilizer Elements

What do the three numbers on fertilizers relate to? If I remember correctly, one is for the roots, one for flowers, and the other for the greenery, but I forgot which is which.

Most plants feed primarily on three nutrients – nitrogen (N), phosphorous (K) and potassium (P). These nutrients are represented on fertilizer packages by three numbers. Let’s say you picked up a bag of all–purpose fertilizer. The numbers might read something like 9–15–13, meaning the bag contains 9 percent nitrogen, 15 percent phosphorous and 13 percent potassium.

Nitrogen is important because it helps with vigorous growth and produces lots of leafy foliage. It is the sort of thing, as you might expect, that would be ideal for grass, but not the sort of thing that you would want to put on tomatoes, because this would cause the plant to produce lots of leaves and not much fruit.

The middle number is phosphorus, and it is important in the production of blooms and fruit. This is useful for feeding perennials and vegetables.

The last number is potassium. This is good for strong root and stem development.

Composting

One of the reasons I’m attracted to gardening is that it allows me to use and reuse materials. This has a lot of appeal for a pack rat like me. It gives me a good excuse to hang on to things because I often find another use for them later. Nothing goes to waste in the garden.

A prime example of this is my compost bin. I can take material that I might otherwise throw out such as leaves and grass clippings and turn them into big dividends next year in the way of healthy soil for my vegetables and flowers.

Many people I talk with are intimidated by the whole process, but there is really nothing to composting. It is all about getting the mix right.

The recipe is simple. The only ingredients you need are organic materials such as autumn leaves, grass clippings, and raw vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Items to avoid are woody stems, weeds, diseased plants, cooked food and meat products. These items either take too long to break down or have the potential to spread pests and disease. The final two ingredients needed for compost are water and oxygen.

CompostI find it works best if you layer green, nitrogen rich clippings with brown, carbon rich material such as the autumn leaves at a ratio of about 1 part green to 1 part brown. The nitrogen will help speed up the decomposition of the dead leaves.

You can further accelerate the process by adding a source of nitrogen in the form of granular fertilizer high in nitrogen or well-rotted cow manure. At one time manure could be obtained from a local farmer, but with the risk of ecoli and diminishing access to farms, I recommend using bagged commercial cow manure.

Combining all these elements generates heat, which is the final ingredient needed to create compost. When your compost heats up, you know it’s working.

It’s no surprise that weather plays a factor in how quickly your compost heats up. The process works best when outdoor temperatures are fifty degrees F or higher.

Of course, if you are starting your compost pile in fall when leaves are most abundant you won’t have this advantage. To keep your compost going strong through the cold months, there are a few things I recommend. Make sure your pile is at least three feet high, that it stays moist (not sopping wet) in dry weather and that you turn it about every two weeks. Covering it with plastic will also help to hold the heat in when it is cold.

By taking advantage of all of the garden trimmings and leaves available in the fall, you can have plenty of rich compost in about 6 months. Just in time for summer planting!

Good to Know: Fall Leaves

Wouldn’t it be nice if fallen leaves insulated grass from cold winter temperatures? Unfortunately leaves left on the lawn are not helpful and can actually be harmful. It is important to remove dead leaves because over time they will form a dense mat that smothers your grass. So get out the rake, add the leaves to your compost pile and keep reminding yourself all the great rich soil that will come from your efforts.

Compost Accelerators

There are a lot of ways you can save money in the garden. You can buy small plants, start from seeds or make your own pest spray, but my favorite money-saver is compost. I love composting because it takes materials that might otherwise end up in the trash and turns them into something useful.

Composting is similar to baking in that the right mix of ingredients is needed to produce the desired results. A compost pile needs brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) materials, water, air and microorganisms to turn leaves, yard waste and kitchen scraps into usable organic matter.

The relationship between the brown and green materials is key to a successful compost pile. The nitrogen producing green materials (kitchen scraps, grass clippings) work with microorganisms to break down the carbon producing browns (dead leaves, straw etc). Compost in a Wheelbarrow Ideally you want one layer of green for every three layers of brown. If the ratio of green to brown is off, decomposition slows to a crawl and there’s not enough nitrogen to support the microorganisms necessary to complete the composting process. Basically you end up with undercooked compost that, when added to the soil, can make plants spindly and pale.

So what do you do when you have a yard full of dead leaves you want to compost? If you are short on green materials, get yourself some compost starter. A nitrogen based starter will help activate decomposition. Blood meal, alfalfa pellets and chicken manure are good options. Don’t overdo it; a sprinkling of starter every now and again is all you need. Too much nitrogen and your microbes will start producing ammonia.

You can also apply a compost inoculant to speed up the process. These accelerants add beneficial bacteria, microbes and fungi, the microorganisms that do all the work in a compost pile. You can find them at garden centers and home improvement stores. As with the activators, a little goes a long way. Sprinkle some of the product over your leaves and add water to bring the microbes to life.

Learn more about composting by watching the video below!

Organic Container Soil

One of the bonuses of the container garden craze is that containers allow
anyone to be a gardener even if their garden is just a sunny windowsill.
Space isn’t an issue with potted plants.

In addition to being space conscious, gardening in containers enables
more people to grow plants because it’s possible to get the soil just
right without a lot of labor, and good soil is the foundation for a
successful garden.

I recommend using an organic potting soil for container gardens for two
reasons. First, organic potting soil has good water retention properties,
but still drains well. Second, containers need frequent watering. This
leaches nutrients from the soil, but because organic amendments release
nutrients over time, there is less chance for nutrients to be depleted.

I like to make a batch of this organic soil mix to have on hand whenever
I feel like planting a container. I store it in a bin with a lid. It’s a
great blend for shrubs, perennials and annuals.

Organic Potting Soil Recipe

Soil

  • 1 Part Bagged Topsoil (No Additions Such As Fertilizer Or Water Retentive Polymers)
  • 1 Part Compost – Friability, Trace Nutrients, Water Retention
  • 1 Part Bagged Builder’s Sand – Drainage

Enhancers

  • 2 Tablespoons Cottonseed Meal Per 8 Quarts of Soil – Nitrogen
  • 2 Tablespoons Soft Rock Phosphate Per 8 Quarts of Soil – Phosphorous
  • 2 Tablespoons Greensand Per 8 Quarts of Soil – Potassium

Additional Feeding

Organic Potting Soil
Getting the soil right is the first step in this process; the second part is to
continue fertilizing the plants throughout the growing season with an organic
fertilizer. I use fish emulsion, but if you want to go vegetarian or can’t
stomach the strong smell try worm castings, alfalfa or corn gluten.