As we have completely eliminated peat from our seed starting and growing (see more about that in this post), we had to seek out an alternative (previously we were using the Vermont Compost Company's Fort Vee mix to soil block). This led us to develop a couple of peat-free soil blocking recipes.
Hey, farmer/gardener/soil curator! Been looking for an inexpensive way to increase the level of beneficial microbes, slow release nitrogen and minerals? Have you heard of mesophyllic fertilizer? No? Neither had we, until we stumbled across this recipe...
Here's a shocking statistic: in the three weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, roughly 60 cargo planes per day take off from Columbia and Ecuador, full of pesticide-covered flowers. This herculean effort to meet the consumer demand of the holiday contributes to an incredible carbon emissions footprint, and the travel of your typical imported cut flower doesn't end at the airport:
Let's talk about transparency in the flower marketing world! As in many industries, marketing terms that are used by floral professionals are not regulated. It can be so misleading as a consumer to seek out and wade through all of these terms to figure out who is ACTUALLY selling local, sustainable flowers! Let's talk about some of the misleading terms I see the most:
You might have read our recent post about the excessive use of damaging pesticides in imported cut flowers, but of almost equal concern is fungicide usage. You see, Ecuador, where many of the roses sold in the US are grown, has high amounts of rainfall and the greenhouses where these flowers are grown are notorious for holding in humidity and creating fungus issues like Botrytis.
Have you ever heard of presprouting your seeds? This is a method we use to test viability of old seeds (just do this process with 10 seeds and you’ll know approximately what the germination rate is) and also to help speed up germination.
Gardeners, if you have trouble with algae on your soil during seed starting season, you may want to give this a try! While algae is usually more of an annoying issue than a problematic one, if the algae spreads enough it will compete for nutrients with your seedlings, stunting their growth. Our organic solution has always been to sprinkle cinnamon, but that can suffocate small seedlings and doesn’t get into all the nooks and crannies, especially with soil blocks.