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Tips for the First Time Gardener

Gardening is one of those hobbies that once you start you never want to stop. It’s rewarding to grow fruits and vegetables and then serve them for dinner later on that evening. But we all know it can be intimidating to start something new. If you’ve never created your own garden before, this blog is for you. We’re here to help and cheer you on!

Getting Started

To get started you must first decide where you will plant your garden. Go out into your backyard and find the sun, watch for a few days and see which part of your yard gets the most sunlight. Most plants need between six to eight hours of sunlight each day to thrive.

Now if your yard is small or if you live in a city, you can still start a garden. You’ll want to determine the best spot to place your plants… on a balcony, front walkway, or even in a fish tank. There are many different ways to start an urban garden. But it’s important to pay attention to the sun, you want your plants to get adequate light to grow.

Pro Tip: Make sure your garden hose can reach your garden site.

When to Start Planting

You can start planting your garden as soon as the soil is workable. You’ll notice in some parts of the country where cold lingers, it may be April until you can start this process. But in warmer regions, that could be as soon as late February or March. You do not want the dirt to be frozen. Even if temperatures drop below freezing, the soil should crumble with a gentle touch.

If you’re creating an urban garden using containers or pots, place them on concrete, a driveway, or against a brick wall. This will help them gather more heat.

Prep Your Soil, Seeds & Bulbs

Before you place any seeds or bulbs into the ground you want to make sure your soil is prepped. Having healthy soil is where it all begins. Start by using compost in your garden. Mix an equal amount of food scraps and yard waste. This will ensure you have a good balance in your compost.

Then, use Ultra® to support the beneficial microbial life in the soil and plant. Ultra® is a 100% organic, environmentally safe prebiotic that contains macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that benefit both the soil and plant production and health. It is simple to use and can be applied to the soil, seed, roots, and plant foliage to maximize growth and production.

What Should You Plant?

If you’re starting your garden in late winter or early spring, start with salad greens.

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Mesclun mixes
  • Spinach

These plants will sprout when the soil is around 55-degrees and many can be harvested within 30 to 60-days. Now, salad greens will not thrive during cold snaps but they won’t die unless the temperature falls below 28-degrees.

Onions: They are another great option to plant in late winter or early spring. They are a hardy plant and can survive a hard frost. You can start with buying seeds and begin growing them indoors. Then transplant them to your garden once you see “little spikes” sticking out of the seeds.

Carrots: While they can be planted when the ground is colder, carrots do prefer warmer temperatures. So we suggest waiting until at least the second month of spring and temperatures are warm during the day and cool at night. To plant, scatter seeds in rows. It’s important to remember, carrots will only grow as large as you give them the space to grow. So don’t put the seeds too close to each other.

Tomatoes: This plant enjoys warmth. If you want to plant your own tomatoes from seeds, start them indoors within eight weeks of your final frost date. Then, transplant them outside into your garden.

Don’t Forget the Mulch

If you’re growing your garden in your backyard, you want to provide a barrier for your plants. Mulch is an excellent barrier for your plants. You can count on it to keep moisture inside the soil, overpower weeds, regulate soil temperature, and create a beautiful garden! To save money and help the planet, you can even make your own mulch.

Water & GRO

To see your garden thrive, you want to water regularly. Place the hose on top of the mulched garden and let the water seep about 2-inches into the ground. Then move it around your garden to ensure the water evenly gets to each plant.

Use Super-Cal to create strong soil structure and plant health. Nothing can replace the role of calcium in your garden. It is vital for your plants to be able to develop and grow properly. Super-Cal is a proprietary blend of natural organic acids that work in the soil to break down tied-up calcium/lime deposits and convert them to an available form that plants can utilize.

Now you have the insight you need to create a beautiful garden. Ready to get started? We believe in you! Shop the line now and GRO your garden!




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SOURCES:
Phillips, K. (2017). The Concrete Garden: How to start growing your own in the city. Alternatives Journal, 43(2), 30+.
STONE, A. (2017). Don’t Wait on Winter Waning. Countryside & Small Stock Journal, 101(2), 20–23.

How to Have Your Best Fall Garden

 

Remember helping your mom in the garden on those crisp, cool fall days? With the excitement of spring and business of summer, it is easy to forget about fall gardening, but it is still very much a thing. In today’s post, we’ll review why you should plant a fall garden, some things to consider before you start planting, and the types of herbs and veggies that grow well in cool, moist weather. Let’s get started!

Why Plant a Fall Garden?

If you spent a lot of time and effort on your garden over the spring and summer, you might want nothing more than to clear it out and prep it for next spring. So why should you plant a fall garden? 

Growing your own herbs and veggies into autumn allows you to continuous access to fresh, healthy, homegrown foods that you had during the spring and summer. Not only is this good for your family’s health, but it is also easy on your wallet. Beyond that, you’ll have access to all of the fresh ingredients you need to make your favorite fall comfort food when the weather turns chilly, which means no last-minute trips to the store when you get a hankering for your famous homemade vegetable soup. 

Other benefits of fall gardening include: 

  • Less watering: cooler, wetter weather means a lower water bill and less work for you
  • Cooler temps: no more breaking a sweat just to go out and gather herbs and veggies
  • Fewer pests: many pests die off in cooler weather giving your garden a respite
  • Increased shade: fall offers less direct sunlight, which many fall herbs and veggies love
  • Enhanced flavor: frost can actually sweeten many fall crops, increasing the depth of flavor
  • Enhanced soil health for spring planting: Although it might be tempting to clear out your garden at the end of the summer, planting a fall garden can actually do wonders for soil health and future plant nutrition. How? By helping to build up a diverse population of microbes. These tiny microbes in the dirt feed off of a substance that roots give off, helping to create nutrient-rich soil that plants thrive in. Planting a wide variety of fall-hardy plants will go a long way towards enhancing your spring garden’s soil health.

Considerations for a Great Fall Garden

Before you begin planting your fall garden, there are a few important factors to consider. As with your spring and summer gardens, you want to make sure that your garden has the right amount of sunlight, that its soil is healthy, and that the plants have access to the water and nutrition that they need to thrive.

Sunlight

Fall days are shorter and that means that your fall garden will have fewer hours of daylight than it did in the summer. While many fall herbs and veggies do well with increased amounts of shade, they all need some sunlight to aid in photosynthesis and growth. Choose a day to monitor how many hours of sunlight your garden gets and keep this in mind as you are getting ready to choose the herbs and veggies you want to plant.  

Soil Health

Plants thrive in rich, well-drained soil. Whether you are planting in the ground or a raised bed, starting with high-quality soil is essential because it will provide your plants with a boost of nutrition from the very start. This will increase their overall health and hardiness. Excessive moisture during the fall can rob the soil of valuable nutrients. Finding a good liquid calcium and prebiotic supplement will further enhance soil health in your fall garden. 

Heat Protection

Do you live in an area where temperatures can fluctuate as much as 30 or 40 degrees between day and night in the fall? If so, it might be a good idea to invest in some type of heat protection for your fall garden. Row covers are inexpensive and they can be bought online, providing much-needed protection from unexpected hot spells. If you need a row cover in a pinch, you can always make your own out of any type of see-through white fabric. Tulle and lightweight polyester interfacing work perfectly for the job.

Watering

Fall can be a tricky time of year to plant, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain in the fall months. Watering your plants too little or too much can affect their growth and health and sometimes it can be hard to know how much additional water your garden needs beyond that which Mother Nature provides. Using a rain gauge can be a great way to determine how much water your plants have already received before you water them, preventing dehydration or too much water

Plant Nutrition

Plants need food just like people do — you take care to feed your spring and summer garden, and your fall garden is no different. Finding a quality, plant nutrition product will add life to your garden, enhancing the plants’ water efficiency and the soil’s nutrients to improve plant growth, yield, and vigor.

Other Considerations 

      • Choose plants over seeds. They mature sooner to beat the cold.
      • Set a watering schedule. Water regularly to keep the soil hydrated.
      • Mulch. Protect your plant’s roots from unexpected heat on hot fall days.
      • Consider a cold frame. Build your own or buy one to protect plants and extend harvest durations in colder climates.
      • Consider a raised bed. This will promote proper drainage and prevent rot as the season gets wetter.

Ideal Herbs for Your Fall Garden

There is nothing quite like the aromatic herbs of fall. Some of the easiest ones to grow in your home garden include: 

  1. Cilantro
  2. Chives
  3. Lavender
  4. Mint
  5. Parsley
  6. Rosemary
  7. Sage
  8. Thyme

Vegetables — When and What to Plant in Your Fall Garden

To get the most out of your fall garden, you want to make sure you plant your veggies at the right time. The following planting guide offers some good guidelines on when to plant some of the more popular fall vegetables: 

 

Ready to Get Planting?

Has all of this fall gardening talk gotten you jazzed about planting? If so, it is never too early to start planning which herbs and vegetables you’ll plant in your garden this fall, along with the type of soil health and plant nutrition products you need to make your garden thrive. Shop AgriGro’s entire Home and Garden line today to find innovative products designed especially for the home gardener and have fun this fall. Happy planting!

 

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Cover Crops for Enhancing Soil Health and Crop Production

While there is still plenty of the growing season ahead of us, it is never too early to start thinking about maintaining the health of your soil in the offseason. This is especially true if you went the route of prevented planting versus late planting due to the flooded soil conditions that plagued much of the Midwest earlier in the season. Diverse, rich soil and cover crops are two important components to success and in today’s blog, we’ll take a closer look at each of them. Let’s get started. 

 

The Importance of Biodiverse, Rich Soil Life

As a primary function of agriculture operations, soil biodiversity is necessary for successful and sustainable growing seasons. This careful balance of natural ecosystems within the soil can have a large impact on yield and so it only makes sense that you’d want the best soil life possible. So how do you gauge the biodiversity of your soil? The following conditions could indicate something is off: 

  • Increased pest infestation
  • Increased weed pressure
  • Evidence of plant diseases
  • Slow seed germination
  • Plants with stunted growth
  • Changes in the soil structure itself
  • Crop residue buildup 

Tips for Achieving Biodiversity and Richness

 

Encouraging biodiversity might seem like a monumental undertaking, but there are a few things you can do to help ensure optimal soil health. Three of these include:

Rotate the Crops You Plant

If possible, avoid continuous crop production of the same plants year after year. Growing different crops prevents excessive nutrient depletion and reduces soil erosion while increasing soil health and crop yield. Additionally, alternating between deep-root and shallow-root crops can improve soil stability and prevent recurring pest infestations.

Use Prebiotics and High-Quality Crop Products

In the absence of sufficient food, soil microbes are unable to build up resources and reserves during the fall and winter for optimal soil health in the spring. Using prebiotics and fertilizer treatments like  IgniteS2® and IgniteS4® to feed microbes allows you to:

 1) increase soil porosity and expedite soil aggregation, and

 2) stimulate microbial activity in order to breakdown crop residues in preparation for the next seedbed. 

 

Plant Cover Crops

Cover crops are those plants that are grown with the specific intent of protecting and enriching the soil. This is especially recommended for those growers who were impacted by the unprecedented flooding in the Midwest in Spring 2019. When paired with high-quality prebiotics and fertilizer treatments, cover crops are a great way to sustainably and effectively revitalize nutrient-lacking soil.

Why Plant Cover Crops?

There are several benefits to planting cover crops. A few of them include: 

Reduced Instances of Fallow Syndrome

Letting your field be fallow in the offseason might be tempting, but it can prove problematic and result in Fallow Syndrome. This condition is caused by reduced amounts of certain fungi which can impact a plant’s ability to take up nutrients like phosphorus and zinc. In turn, this can cause stunted plant growth. Planting cover crops can help reduce the likelihood of future crops being affected by Fallow Syndrome.

Enhance Soil Health and Fertility

Cover crops help to improve the quality of your soil in many different ways. First, the physical and biological health of the soil is improved, as is water availability. Planting cover crops is also an excellent way to suppress weeds that would otherwise take over fields that are left fallow. Some cover crop roots can even break up compacted layers of soil, which makes it easier for the roots of subsequent crops to develop to their full potential.

Provide Nutrients for Subsequent Crops

In addition to enhancing soil health and fertility, cover crops also increase levels of organic matter in the soil. This is a sustainable means of providing nutrients for subsequent crops, further enhancing the quality of the soil by providing residues that are readily available to be used by soil organisms. Selecting the right type of cover crop based on subsequent crops needs is important to maximizing the benefits of this planting practice.

Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil is more prone to erosion when there are no crops planted in it. Land that is allowed to be fallow in between planting cycles or growing seasons is especially susceptible to washout. Not only does erosion change the layout of your land, but it also robs the soil of essential nutrients that plants need to thrive. Planting cover crops reduces the severity of erosion and can even enhance soil health when crop fertilizers include treatments and additives like IgniteS2® and IgniteS4®

Break Pest Cycles

Crop pests can cause incredible amounts of destruction and financial devastation to even the most established commercial agricultural operation. These infestations may be more likely to occur when the same crops are planted over and over again, as they supply an almost endless food source for the problem pest. Planting cover crops can help break the cycle of troublesome insects, birds, rodents, and other pests that plague your crop production.

Seasonal Cover Crop Tasks

What can you do each season to ensure your cover crop planting endeavor is a success? The checklist below offers helpful insights and tips.

Spring

  • Consider which crops will facilitate early seeding for your fall cover crop
  • Perform soil tests on pH level, organic matter, and biodiversity to serve as benchmarks for later comparisons
  • Determine how and when you will terminate your cover crop

Summer

  • Test water for nitrite levels and record findings for later comparison
  • Test soil for compaction and water filtration, recording your findings

Fall

  • Plant cover crops as soon as possible after harvest
  • Record crop yields during harvesting

Winter

  • Educate yourself on cover crops, soil health, and soil biology
  • Identify the worst erosion areas and set long-term goals
  • Fine-tune your cover crop plan
  • Line up seed, equipment, and other necessities for planting cover crops
  • Check into cost-sharing with the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Boost Soil Health and Crop Yields

Are you searching for ways to enhance soil health in the offseason after harvesting your cash crop? Maybe you have noticed a decrease in yield and suspect that soil health is to blame? AgriGro® offers prebiotics, fertilizer treatments, and other crop products that can help enhance your cover crop efforts while boosting the soil’s biodiversity. Locate an AgriGro® dealer or contact our team to learn more about the science behind our products.

 

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Considering Prevent Planting? Push Yields With AgriGro

There’s no doubt that this spring has been cold and wet. Historic flooding has had much of the Midwest’s farmland underwater since April, leaving many growers holding their breath as they wait for drier soil conditions to return. As a partner in your commercial growing operation, AgriGro® is here to provide products that can help you enhance soil and plant health and its microbiology, effectively allowing you to close the gap between actual crop yields and their true genetic yield potential. Today, we’ll review how this spring’s weather patterns have affected our nation’s corn growers and how AgriGro can help push crop yields to increase profits.

Mother Nature’s Impact

We don’t have to tell you that soil health is one of the biggest factors in profitable yields, and cold, wet soil conditions are simply not ideal growing conditions for crops. However, much of the agricultural sector underestimated Mother Nature’s effect on the corn planting season until the most recent Crop Progress Report was released by the USDA yesterday, June 3. The report estimates that, as of June 2, only 67% of the nation’s corn crop has been planted and that just 46% of the crop has emerged. That means farmers have 31 million acres of corn still to plant.

To add some context to these figures, it helps to compare this season’s planting and emergence rates to those of last year. Reports indicate that, while our nation’s corn crop had a bit of a rough start, 96% of it had been planted and 84% of it had emerged as of June 2, 2018.

Additionally, this year’s planting rates are well below the five-year average for many states:

  • Illinois: 45% planted
  • Indiana: 31% planted
  • Ohio: 33% planted
  • South Dakota: 44% planted
  • Michigan: 42% planted

This data, along with that of years past, reveals the shocking truth that 2019 may go down as the slowest corn planting season in history.

To Plant or Not to Plant

Soil moisture conditions remain at 50% or greater and there is more rain in the forecast for much of the Corn Belt. Some places are so waterlogged that even an inch of rain will keep some growers from planting. While those who planted early are committed to seeing the growing season through, other growers find themselves considering prevent planting as a viable alternative if their final planting date has not yet arrived.

Many growers are tempted to contact their crop insurance agent to file a claim due to abysmal soil health and growing conditions following the widespread spring flooding. However, experts and analysts predict that adjusters and underwriters are going to be somewhat picky this year about approving crop acres eligible for indemnification. Additionally, the price of corn is on the rise thanks to basic supply-and-demand. In fact, some estimate that the price of corn could be as much as $2 per bushel higher than a month ago because of market conditions and several other factors.

With the risks involved in prevent planting and the market conditions being what they are, a unique opportunity exists for growers who decide to wait it out and plant their corn crops — they could see increased profits that are greater than what their insurance policy could potentially pay out.

Improving Soil Health for Greater Yields

Growers in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan have until June 5 to decide whether or not they are going to plant their corn crop. That means that you only have a few days to make a critical decision as a commercial grower in one of these states. If market conditions have convinced you to forgo prevent planting while you allow your land to dry out, you want to do everything you can to enhance soil health and soil microbiology to give your crops the best start possible once you are finally able to plant.

Discover Enhanced Soil MicroBiology with AgriGro

When that time comes, AgriGro products will be there to help you every step of the way. Our crop products are specially designed to provide a wide range of benefits that can help you push crop yields to their full genetic potential to take advantage of current market conditions. From helping seedlings withstand cool, damp growing conditions to encouraging better germination, more even emergence, and improved soil health and microbiology, our products add life to your growing environment, allowing your operation to flourish in a time when others may not be so fortunate.

Ready to get started? Contact AgriGro today to learn more about our biotechnology products or locate a dealer near you.

AgriGro® Meets with Compo Expert to Discuss Soil Health and Prebiotics

At AgriGro®, we are passionate about producing sustainable soil health and prebiotic products that help growers maximize their return on investment while reducing their dependence on traditional agricultural inputs. Whenever possible, we partner with other reputable biotech companies to broaden our reach in the commercial agricultural sector. These opportunities allow us to introduce and provide technical information on our products so that we may distribute them to a wider audience.

On April 25, 2019, we had the opportunity to meet with Compo Expert®, an international producer of special fertilizers and biostimulants, at their Mexico head offices in Guadalajara. Stephen Smith, Co-Owner and President of AgriGro Marketing, Inc., and Tim Tesreau, VP of Agronomy and Technical Support were in attendance, along with AgriGro’s Latin American Representative, Fred Helwig and William Olyslager, owner of Fertilizantes Naturales AgriGro’s distributor in Guatemala.  The gentlemen participated in MSc. Mauricio Navarro Garcia’s three-day biostimulant course, bringing more than 70 combined years of experience to the table.

Mauricio Navarro Garcia has been an Agricultural Independent Technical Advisor for nearly 25 years and he is an invaluable Research Associate who has dedicated his work to helping companies like AgriGro develop effective high-quality bio-stimulant products. His work and research have helped revolutionize areas of plant nutrition, soil health, and bio-stimulation. Needless to say, our team was honored to have a booth at the event so that we could share our knowledge of soil health, yields, and profitability.

Whether on a global scale or a much more local scale, AgriGro is here to support local growers in all of their sustainable crop production needs and we would love to speak with you about how our prebiotic products can enhance your soil health. Contact us today or get in touch with a local dealer to learn more about all of the ways we can help you take your commercial agricultural operations to the next level.

 

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