The Scoop on Peat Moss
“I have read from time to time that peat moss is really not considered that good of a soil conditioner, yet I also read articles that talk about it being so great. What’s the real scoop on peat moss?”
Rhonda, Mooresville, North Carolina
Peat moss is considered a common soil conditioner, but not one that can stand alone. While peat moss is definitely a lightweight, natural conditioner, it is used to help loosen heavy soils and improves the soil’s ability to hold moisture. Combine it with compost, limestone, and ground wood or sawdust and you have a good combination going as a soil conditioner.
If you are not into all of that work then there is a better solution. The essence of the compost and peat moss is humus. That is the substance that makes it so effective. With Monty’s Liquid Carbon Organic Soil Conditioner we have separated this humus into its base components then cleaned it. What is left is an activated form of humic that is ready to go to work in your soil.
Nature will eventually do the same thing with your compost and peat moss, it just takes longer and requires a lot more work on your part. By applying Monty’s Liquid Carbon annually (at least) you can quickly remediate troubled soils. Plus this year, with our all-new ready to spray formula, “better just got easier!” All you have to do is attach the new container to your garden hose and apply.
Good Companion Vegetables for Tomatoes
“I’ve finally learned that I don’t need to grow a dozen tomato plants for our small family needs, often giving a lot of them away or canning way more than we really need. So this spring I will have room for other plants in my garden. Are there certain vegetables that might do better than others around tomatoes, as I still need to plant some? ”
Liam, Downers Grove, Illinois
Carrots, lettuce, radish, onions and parsley are good companion plants for tomatoes. Did you know that basil is even known to improve tomato growth and flavor as well when planted by them? Cabbage and cauliflower are NOT good tomato “neighbors.” If you are interested in planting dill, do it on the other end of the garden.
Chives as Organic Solution in Rose Garden
“Will chives ward off aphids and keep my roses from getting black spot disease? I’ve read this in an organic magazine, but it’s the only time I’ve heard of this. I didn’t really want to plant them by my roses, because I know they spread, but I sure would like to keep my roses as healthy as possible and having chives as a backdrop wouldn’t be so bad.”
Merrill, Iowa City, Iowa
There are a lot of natural plant repellants out there, which is great for the organic gardener, but should not to be taken as cure-alls. As a gardener, being proactive pays off, but daily plant attention and recognizing problems from the get-go is also important. Perennial chives have been known to ward off aphids, as does peppermint and garlic.
Black spot disease is caused by water splashing up on your leaves, so be careful how you water roses. Since their roots are so shallow I always mulch around my roses, which also absorbs the splash from rains and watering, which helps control black spot. There are plenty of products on the market, some more natural than others that can be sprayed on the leaves to eradicate black spot attacks. They are all very effective, but you have to keep on top of it regardless.
The best defense is a good offense, and with roses this means healthy rose plants. Most pests and diseases are opportunistic, so if you have healthy plants, there are fewer opportunities for pests and disease. The best way to keep rose plants healthy is to feed them with Monty’s 8-16-8 Growth Formula early in the season when shoots start to show and as leaves appear, and then feed them with Monty’s 2-15-15 Root and Bloom once buds appear on the rose plant and through the bloom cycle. Foliar feeding should help strengthen the stems and leaves, thereby helping to eliminate any “opportunity” for a pest or disease to set in or take over.
Give Gladiolus Another Chance
“I planted Gladiolus bulbs and Sunflowers together last summer and got great Sunflowers but no Glads. Was it bad bulbs or overpowering Sunflowers?”
Liza, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Your Sunflowers may have overpowered you Glads, perhaps shading them or sucking up all the Glads’ needed water and nutrients. Sunflowers will do that. And Glads need just as much sun as Sunflowers. Sunflowers also contain a toxin that can harm other plants, although I have not had problems with planting them myself as a border in my vegetable garden, tucked in with Black-Eyed Susans and even with Zinnias and Cannas. Give those Glads another shot this spring, away from those Sunflowers and in the full sun they love.
Marigolds as Organic Pest Control
“My grandmother always planted a border of marigolds in her vegetable garden because she said they warded off pests. I’ve never done it, but is there any truth to it? I’d hate to waste the marigolds on my garden space if it’s just to beautify my garden, as I have limited space.”
Jeannie, Galena, Illinois
Sounds like Grandma knew something about “companion planting,” which is the safest, most natural way to garden organically. Marigolds are easy to grow and helps keep away aphids. And, you can dry the flowers for seeds in the fall for planting from year to year, so there’s not even a financial investment involved either. They also say marigolds will ward off thrips, tomato hornworms, squash bugs and whiteflies. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes (soil dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses, and strawberries. The root of the marigold produces a chemical that kills nematodes as they enter the soil. If a whole area is infested, at the end of the season, you can turn the marigolds under so the roots will decay in the soil and then safely plant there again the following spring. Perhaps you might want to rethink those marigolds – there’s more than meets the eye with this pretty little flowers.