Rage Against the Ad, Part 3

Box Stores End Gardening.. What?

As a gardener, I remember always having things to do in the Winter as far as gardening. Somewhere in the past, the media, ended gardening ideas for Winter. It’s like that movie where Christmas was almost cancelled, there was a war on. With the huge amount of people gardening these days, and I’m talking specifically, the “Grow Your Own Food” folks, there seems to be an end, to gardening. There is, a war on.

Do you believe it’s over, when it comes to that last Tomato, last Squash, last weeding? Let me tell you, there’s more. Way more. If, and I say, if, you are one of the few that kept a journal, either written or photo, of your efforts, then you have the ability and responsibility to “Garden in the Winter”. It’s not over when those ads tell you. Think about the other side, of department stores. When do the flip flops, bathing suits, shorts, patio furniture, etc., go “on sale”. Summer isn’t over, in July, the ads say it is, because Fall sweaters are on the rack by mid August.

See? But we don’t realize they do it to gardeners too. Just because the name brand product ads shift from constant  “down your throat” wrong advice blitz from April to the end of July/early August, and then non-existent, most of you shut down. Me? I have fresh picked veggies for Thanksgiving. I’m nowhere near done. My shorter days thinking, goes towards finishing the beds, proper dressing and cover crop, looking over my pics and notes, for next February, when it actually starts new. I’m separating and labeling my saved seeds, labeling, converting my rotation of crops on paper, gathering things to up-cycle for seed starting, re-organizing my seed racks, taking down my cold frames, cleaning hard used tools. Ever wonder why the seed catalogs come so early? Well they aren’t early, they, are on time, the box stores are late, trying to clear out Christmas, and then have some stupid bathroom fixture sale, they can’t even order product like lime, amendments, garden tools, of things of the like. They are “out of season” and turned off in the system. By the time the seasonal items are actually in an ad, gardeners are well under way, and new gardeners, are lost.

I can’t tell you how many times over the past decades, when I ask if, anything, the  person tells me it’s too early yet. When I break out my phone  and show them what I’m doing, let’s say, mid February, and show them my seedlings up and under light in a cheap seed rack, then I have a new client. Then, they are pounding the stores about why nothing is in the store for gardening. Love the answers they get.

Most of my “Seasonal Only” clients are now year round gardeners. They are getting their Winter Gardening supplies in July, saving them for November, to create their own gardening indoor projects. I get pounded in late January early February with requests, pondering, “can I’s”, whatever, from almost as many thru the “season” gardeners. About 30% of those, repeatedly send me pics of “the thing” they are building, and do I think it will work. Then, Late February, mid March, silence. But I hear them, working, thinking, whining, trying….

Yep, the media has all but killed Winter Gardeners. There is a huge up flow of people tired of their food being tainted, by the very same chemical companies, that are in charge of the ads. Late ads, and wrongly timed advice. See, they don’t want you to grow, especially food. That’s why there’s ads, so the ordinary weekender can just keep trying instead of succeeding. How many times I heard, “Well I do this every year, because the ad says so.” And we’re talking simply about over seeding a fescue lawn. Same with the veggie garden people. See the pictures on the name brand water soluble fertilizers? “All Purpose” with it’s flowering annuals and a Tomato and Pepper? Ever read the NPK on that box? Those folks I am guaranteed to get an email from about the very tall leafy Tomato plant with no blooms, in late July. “But the box”, they’ll say. I know that company generates more dollars in that 12 facing display than they would by actually promoting their “Tomato” food. Watch the commercials next spring. Oh yeah, they have another product to counter the Blossom End Rot if you are lucky enough to get any to blossom. Same as the mid Summer fescue fertilizer pushers. That’s when the Fungus Controls come in by the pallets. They know, they told you wrong, and you will need this, better luck next year, just gimme your money. Fescue lawn mostly Bermuda? They make a product to control it, or are you following the ad for feeding wrong?

This Winter, do yourself a favor, especially if you are confused. Find a Personal Garden Coach, we are here to stop you from watching the ads, be successful, save you money, as you make money growing your own food, and helping the environment. Winter is where I  am invited as a guest speaker, lecturer, given for Christmas, to help generate that kick start in gardeners. We have plenty to do on our own properties and scheduling garden chores, but as we educate others, our life gets easier. Our job is to grow. Not only you, but ourselves. We know how to make gardening mistakes, most of us have done things just to see, or to prove to others. Now I’m all about this article, it needs to be understood, that “ads are the bads” when it comes to gardening. Sales are great, don’t get me wrong, but the education you would get, can stop you from buying by the ad.

Invest in your educating yourself and your family. Change the channel when a commercial is on, keep a garden journal, make your own trends.

Composted Leaf Mold Starts in Your Own Yard

Composting Leaf Mold

So, what happens each Fall, when we start getting leaves? We always say, or mean to, re-use them in our landscape, compost, garden beds, and what happens? Time doesn’t run out, daylight just gets shorter. In a recent article I wrote for  Farmers Almanac about raking vs mulching, I had a very good hit with emails about “Leaf Mold”. Yes, Leaf Mold is a good thing, and even better if its a free thing. I have in the past, and will again, hear from folks who got a soil analysis, and always, there is a comment from the County, to add leaf mold. “Where do we buy it”? First thing I ask about is if they have deciduous trees, most say yes. I ask where the leaves are from last year, and I find the same answer, “at the dump”.

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In the article in FA, I suggested folks seek out the leaves getting blown to the curb to be picked up, and ask if they can have a bunch. But you should scatter them in your yard and mulch them and bag up with a mower. The pieces compost faster than the whole leaves, but your garden life will change. Just make sure you aren’t picking up diseased leaves, or Black Walnut. Oak, Maple, Hickory, Poplar, Beech, are a few that I haven’t seen a lot of fungus activity. Flowering Pear, and Dogwoods, are really taking a beating the last couple of years, so, pass on them.

Generally, insects aren’t a problem, since the layering of the leaves in the beds, will freeze, and then start “cooking” later, and will kill most insects in them. If you are composting, and have been saving grass, and other greens, leaf mold is a magic kick for the ratio.

So like I said in the previous articles, and lectures, I have used all I need from my own trees, and have a surplus of already mulched leaves. Come get them, bring your own bags. There are also an abundance of Pine Tags, rake your own, I’m done. Don’t let these valuable resources hit the landfill. Just send me an email if you are in the Richmond area and are “Tree Challenged” and want some.

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Leaf litter ready to go!!

See www.Kevinsgarden.com and sign up for my newsletters. If you want the leaf litter and Pine Tags, email me at Kevin@Kevinsgarden.com

My links for the Farmers Almanac and other media are below.


There are other articles in my blog http://www.Kevinsgarden.wordpress.com that will help you successfully have a great gardening experience.

Composting with Chemicals?

I’ve always included composting in my lectures, and with my Personal Garden Coach clients. When I start, I’m always interrupted with the question of, “What’s the ratio of browns and greens?” Well, that’s always in the lecture, but a very important topic here that needs to always be addressed is, “What do you apply to your lawn if that’s part of your greens?” Then, there’s the silence.
If you are an ad follower, with those “Do this now, and in 8 weeks do this”, or “Buy this now, get this half off”, then I need to go towards the subject of, “Why?” Those bagged fertilizer companies are in it for the almighty dollar. No concern about your health, after all, the warnings are on the bag, in either the smallest print available, or mismatched colors of font and background that makes you dizzy just trying to get the first few words… And there’s always a chemical product to counter the wrong timing.
Let’s see what you apply, and why. First off, is the big main ads that come in the late Winter of Pre-emergent and Weed and Feed. Pre-em is most times a good thing, IF, you had a bad weed issue before, which means, you are not gardening the soil, first. I can cruise any neighborhood, and tell who is an “Ad Follower”. Remember, there is always another chemical out there to counter what you did wrong. They will tell you, wrong on purpose, remember, it’s their stock holders paycheck. You look at me, and say, “But the picture on the chart, this is next, right? Get to that in a bit.
Now we have an ad in Mid Summer, with fertilizer and bug killer. If you notice, at the same time, there is a chemical also there, to control Bermuda Grass in your Fescue Lawn. Well, you just fed it, with the fertilizer in the “Summer Feeding”. Warm Season grasses vs. Cool Season. Hmm.
Back to the Weed and Feeds. The chemical 2-4d is most times the “Killer”. The bag says “Control”, and you would think it was a “Preventer”, a control right? Only thing it controls, is ending the life of the broad leaf plant it lands on. Don’t get confused with that. As any seed germinates, the leaves form on a stalk, which are then above the chemical, and can’t be taken in by that plant. The other pellets in the lawn, can stay there for up to 4 years, if there is no weed to consume the chemical. You walk in it, kids play in it, pets lick their feet after being in it. It’s also used in hay fields to feed Horses and Cows. It’s sprayed over the crops to kill unwanted weeds, to make the hay more, pure. Livestock can eliminate it in their waste that most use as compost… Remember the active for 4 years? Glyphosate is also sprayed to control the harvest time by “killing” the crop all at once so the drying time is controlled. More on that in a minute.
The best way to gain control of your “footprint” is change the channel when these commercials come on, toss the ads, and communicate with your local County Extension Office, or find a Garden Coach. Keep “Sustainable Gardening” in the background of your mind, and change. You are eating these chemicals. There was an article from, I believe from a professor at Cornell, that was a study on pelleted 2-4d and Feline Leukemia. Think about it, they dig, do it, cover it, and then lick their paws. There is also some speculation on “Chemically induced Autism” out there, but that’s something you should pursue, I have, it’s scary. Weed and Feeds are the number one fertilizer class seller in the big box stores because it is in the run 12 months a year now. Didn’t used to be, because they dropped the phrase “Weed Killer” on the bags to a more consumer environmentally friendly “Weed Control”. Should say “Once Upon a Time”, like any other fairy tale.
Back to the lecture. So I always have to go here, and the silence, is still in the air, mouths open, no blinking anywhere. I end this part by simplifying. “If you use any chemicals on your lawn, do not include it in your compost. If you get free manure, ask the livestock owner, where they get their hay, and does that farmer use 2-4d. Garden your soil and feed properly, you won’t need chemicals”. Composted manure can contain 2-4d, and kill your gardens. I myself have seen this from new clients. “Can’t get my veggies to grow”. When I see the composted manure, I ask about the hay, not the Cow, and see confusion in their eyes.. So they call, get the answer, and always look at me and ask how did I know and what they should do. “Move your garden and start over”. When I ride thru a neighborhood, I can tell who follows a certain “4 step” program. There will be Crabgrass at the upper part of the lawn, then nice, and at the bottom, nothing, not even weeds. Pendimethalin is the chemical in a widely advertised pre-emergent. It is a gas barrier that forms at the base of your thatch bed in your lawn, stopping most all germination, But, it can “slide” down the slope, leaving the top unprotected. Crabgrass germinates 3 times a year. Wait, there is a chemical that “controls” (kills) it, “Apply it NOW” they will tell you.. But wait… I, um… Didn’t read the bag..
If ever, you have a question about any chemical or product, MSDS.com is a great place. Don’t surf it at night, you will have bad dreams. Most everyone has a smartphone of sorts. Take a pic of the label, then expand it to READ it. You just may find the “ad”, is wrong. There are several “Sustainable Gardening” sites out there, and it should be a priority to you, to find them. Also remember that anything in a bagged product that is labeled as “Organic” only has to be 85% organic material, the other 15% they don’t have to divulge by Federal Law, so they can keep ahead of the other vendors. Processed food is different a labeling process in “Organic”. There are 3 levels, but that’s a different lecture topic.
Just think about what second hand chemicals you are using in your compost.