Tag Archives: soil

Feed Your Soil, or Feed Your Plants?

“I thought adding plant food to the water would be best for my plants. What is the difference between feeding the plants and feeding the soil?”

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Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments

At Giordano’s Gift and Garden we sell fertilizers and soil amendments for every gardener’s needs, and we are committed to providing organic products as much as is practical, so there is the smallest negative impact on the environment.  Organics are natural ingredients that beneficial microbes digest as food and then make nutrients available for plants. Feeding the soil preserves the natural biologic interactions that support plant survival and growth. Also,organic fertilizers have a much lower chance of leaching through the soil and contaminating the water table.

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Caring for Your Lawn – Naturally Part III (Watering)

WATERING AND SOIL pH

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As counter intuitive as it may seem, you should water your lawn LESS often for better results. Really? The answer is yes, BUT: when you do water, water DEEPLY. Making sure you water sufficiently helps to develop grass roots that go farther down into the soil. Grass watered frequently but shallowly develops shallow roots and the many horizontal ‘runners’ that make up a mat of thatch. Thatch is a loose, intermingled tangle of organic matter that will prevent air and water from reaching grass roots. The result is a lawn that doesn’t look its best and is not benefiting from the watering you are doing.

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So, how do you know if your lawn is getting enough water? Watering so that your grass receives at least 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches of water a week is important. Take a tuna fish can, or empty cat food can, and place it within the zone of the sprinkler and run the sprinkler until the can is full. Check the time it took, and use that as the basis for watering in the future.  If the soil has become quite dry, it may work better to give the grass only 1/2 inch, wait for about 90 minutes, then give it another 1/2 inch.

When to Water?

Avoid watering from 11AM to 3PM, the hottest part of the day. It is best to water between 6 and 10AM. There is less wind, less hot sun, and your lawn has a full day to dry. While you want the roots to be wet, it is important for the grass blades to dry off after watering. For this reason, watering at night invites mildew and fungus. If you cannot water in the morning, doing it between 4 and 7PM is your next best choice.

What About Soil pH?

The pH of the soil (the level of acidity vs. alkalinity) is also important to your lawn’s health. The ideal pH for grass is 6.5 to 7. Since most soil on Long Island is lower than that, we recommend spreading lime to bring the number up. While rare for most lawns, if the pH is too high, soil sulfur should be added. A higher number than 7.0 is more favorable to weeds.

When Should I Apply Lime?

Lime is ideally applied twice a year, once in the middle of the growing season, and again in the fall.

Caring for Your Lawn Naturally- Part I (Fertilizing)

In this first of a series on lawn care, learn how fertilizing properly can make the difference  in achieving a great lawn.

grassFertilizing

Grass consumes high levels of nitrogen. While weeds like clover can draw nitrogen from the air, grass cannot. So the presence of those weeds could mean your soil needs more nitrogen. One very good fertilizer we recommend is Dr. Earth Organic Lawn Fertilizer. This will feed your grass and supply organic material to the soil for up to three months. Dr. Earth contains beneficial soil microbes which are living organisms that develop a symbiotic relationship with your lawn, helping it to better absorb nutrients from the soil.  They also aid in relieving drought stress by absorbing water from a much greater volume of soil.

The microbes not only help to digest the organic fertilizer, but also aid in the consumption of thatch. (Thatch buildup acts like a screen on the lawn, a mixture of organic and inorganic matter that prevents water and nutrients from being absorbed by the grass). Some of the microbes even produce antibiotic compounds that suppress disease-bearing fungal pathogens, preventing them from becoming established in your lawn.  The end result is a healthy, productive weed, drought and disease-resistant lawn that will give you years of enjoyment.

Timing

Do not do too much heavy yard work until your lawn has dried out somewhat from the melting snow and early spring rains. Doing so can damage your grass that has been dormant throughout the winter and doesn’t want a rude awakening. If you fertilize too early when the grass is dormant, you are throwing your money away. Fertilizing can take place at the end of April or beginning of May. Try to use a fertilizer that contains a pre-emergent weed control. These work best when the soil temperature is around 55 degrees.

Depending on which fertilizer you use and what type of grass you have, you may fertilize again in the summer and the fall, or just the fall. Ask Giordano’s knowledgeable staff for assistance with your lawn’s particular needs so they can be matched with products we carry. There

Whatever fertilizer you use, be sure to apply according to the directions. Too much fertilizer on Long Island lawns causes runoff to our harbors and rivers, which is the source of much of the pollution that exists in our waterways.

Grow a Healthy and Beautiful Garden

Which Growing Zone? zone-map-3

Growing a garden in Zone 7a (this is the zone we live in on Long Island) means we have the best of both warm and cool climates. Summer temperatures are warm enough to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and many other subtropical plants. Winter temperatures can be cool enough to freeze the soil several inches deep for brief periods, but moderate enough that a little insulation will protect plants from damage.

Spring planting of vegetable crops should be guided by the last average frost date. In our zone it could be after April 15, or as late as the first week in May. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and if you are unsure, ask the local County Cooperative Extension office, listed in the phone book. Seed packet instructions often contain statements such as “Plant seeds indoors six weeks before the last average frost,” or “Sow seeds in the garden two weeks after the last average frost date.”

Microclimates

It also is important to know how many hours of direct sunlight your plants can receive and where the shadows fall in the afternoon. You may have at least 4 different microclimates around your home:

  1. A hot side facing south
  2. A shadowed, cool side on the north
  3. A warm western side with afternoon sun
  4. An ever-changing eastern side that may be warm or cool depending on trees, fencing, or time of year.

Carefully observe heat and light to know where to create your garden. Watch where your snow melts first. This is the warmest and sunniest microclimate you have. Plants that produce fruits require plenty of sun. Allow at least 6 hours daily for tomatoes, zucchini and cabbage. In general, the bigger the fruit the more sunlight it must have.

On the other hand, many veggies and herbs can do well in only about 4 hours of sun a day, such as carrots, beets, chard, chives, lettuce, basil, mint, parsley, or spinach. For leafy green vegetable, less sunlight is fine.

The Key to Success

The key to a healthy garden lies in the soil.  The more you can do to keep your soil healthy, the more productive your garden will be and the higher the quality of your crops. Giordanos carries premium soil and boosters to enhance your output and the excellence of your plants.

Giordano’s wants you to succeed, so we offer plants that will thrive for our customers. Your success is our success, so come in for advice about what will work best for you.

If you are starting or maintaining a home vegetable garden, this website from Cornell University will prove to be extremely helpful:

https://gardening.cce.cornell.edu/

Soil pH for Landscape Plants

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Come in and get a pH test kits or contact Cornell Cooperative Extension-Nassau  horticulture to determine your soil’s pH, then refer to this pH Chart to find the optimum pH for your plantings. A pH of 7 is neutral. To lower your pH (acid), add aluminum sulfate or to raise your pH (alkaline or basic), add lime.