PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Spring"

Soil Test in Spring

According to conventional wisdom, spring is the season to feed your landscape. But before you spread that big bag of fertilizer (slow-release organic, of course!), take the time to find out what your soil actually needs. Feeding too much encourages rapid growth, disease, and nutrient run off, while feeding too little deprives your soil ecosystem and plants of the nutrients they need for a healthy summer.

What can a soil test tell you?

  • pH level —> How acidic or alkaline your soil is and whether you need to add lime or sulfur to adjust the pH.
  • Nutrient levels —> How much nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and other minerals your soil contains and whether you need to amend.
  • Organic matter —> How much organic matter your soil contains and whether you need to add compost.

The best times to test are: on new planting sites, before planting your annual vegetable or flower garden, and before seeding a large section of lawn. And no matter the project, always run a test before investing in fertilizer.

Is it best to go with the pros? DIY kits are cheaper and faster, but professional labs will give you more accurate and detailed reports. If you need help interpreting your professional soil test data, contact the lab before submitting your sample in order to request specific recommendations based on your results.

Professional labs in the New York area:

State University & Agricultural Experiment Station Labs

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Riverhead and Great River, NY

Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory
Ithaca, NY

Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory, University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

Commercial Labs

Soil Foodweb New York
Port Jefferson Station, NY

Harrington’s Organic Land Care
Bloomfield, CT

Photo credit: Barry Bradshaw / EyeEm / Getty Images

Milkweed and clover

Plants sprout from seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, and more, but weeds always originate in the same place: our minds. A weed is simply a plant you've been taught to view as undesirable.

Who taught you? Mostly chemical companies marketing products to keep "weeds" under control. For example, milkweed was long considered unattractive—now we view it as a vital tool to saving the monarch butterfly population.

Times change. Perceptions change. Fashions change: We once thought shoulder pads were a must-have accessory. Isn't it time to rethink our landscaping must-haves? Clover, anyone?

grass cut with a dull blade

How Sharp Are Your Blades?

August 05, 2016

Can't remember the last time you sharpened your lawnmower blades? Then your mower is probably overdue.

Why does it matter? Dull mower blades tear grass, which invites fungus infections. If your grass has ragged edges or you can see white fibers hanging from the tips, your mower blades are too dull.

Privet hedge

Sprinkling Your Hedges?

July 29, 2016

How much water do your privet hedges need this summer? Not much!

If your privet was planted over two years ago, let it be. Well-established trees and shrubs in good soil, including privets, do not need any irrigation.

Newly planted privets—less than two years in the ground—should only be watered at the base. Spraying the leaves is the principle cause of scale disease that will kill your privet. See our drip hoses tip for more info on where to place hoses and when to remove them.

Compost

To Brew? Or Not to Brew?

July 08, 2016

Last week, we talked about the benefits of natural fertilizers like compost and compost tea. So what's the difference between the two? Why brew tea when you could just apply compost?

COMPOST:

+ High in microbial content to feed your soil
+ Contains some soluble nutrients to feed your plants
+ Rich in organic matter that helps improve soil structure
– Heavy and messy to apply
– Will end up all over your clothes (and your kids and pets) if you play on a lawn treated with compost. Best to apply in spring or fall.

COMPOST TEA:

+ High in microbial content to feed your soil
+ Contains some soluble nutrients to feed your plants
+ Only requires a small amount of compost to feed a large area of land
+ Easy to apply throughout the year using a sprayer or watering can
+ Good for lawns or gardens that need to recharge their microbial battery
– Does not contain organic matter for your soil
– Requires special equipment to brew (but our how-to instructions make it easy)

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