The ABC's of N-P-K

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Apr 18, 2016 9:21:55 AM

Fertilizers are an essential tool in any gardener's artillery. Even if you start out with excellent soil, over time the nutrients will be depleted and need to be replenished.  We've selected some of the best on the market for quality, ease of use, and to support local suppliers.

Fertalizer_NPK-01-542778-edited.jpgThere are many nutrients which are essential to plant growth,  broken down into two groups: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are used by plants more than micronutrients, the primary macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (often abbreviated by their elemental symbols as N-P-K).

These three elements are indicated on every fertilizer package in that order, here's what they do:

N- The first nutrient listed on the box is nitrogen, which primarily stimulates vegetative, leafy growth.

P- The second is phosphorous, which is used by the plant for root development, flowering, and fruiting. 

K- The third is potassium, which assists plants in developing vigor and overall health by facilitating sugar formation. 

Most of the fertilizers you find in the nursery are formulated for specific groups of plants, such as the E.B. Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food. Or, liquid fertilizers from FoxFarms Soil & Fertilizer Company. This is because the ratio of N-P-K is important to direct growth for certain plants. For example, if you feed your tomatoes a fertilizer with relatively high nitrogen, they may push a lot of leafy growth at the expense of fruit. 

FoxFarm_Liquid_Fertilizers.png

At Green Acres Nursery & Supply, we primarily recommend organic fertilizers because they contain natural sources of macro and micronutrients, which feed the organisms in your soil to promote better soil health long term. They also contain mycorrhizae, which is a relationship between fungi and roots that facilitates better nutrient and water uptake. Finally, organics contain less salt than synthetic fertilizers, which can help plants use less water. 

Tip: Use a Soil Test Kit to determine what nutrients your plants may need. 

For more information about which fertilizers are right for which plants, visit the Garden Solutions department at any of our five locations

 

 

Topics: Fertilizers, Organic, Organic Fertilizers

Grow Your Own Salsa Garden

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on May 23, 2014 2:56:00 PM

Fresh salsa is so tasty on grilled chicken tacos, your favorite grilled fish, or added to grilled steak fajitas. And, whether you’ve got little gardening experience, or are an experienced Green-Thumb, a salsa garden can make a great addition to any backyard. It doesn’t take a lot to get started. With just three easy steps, you’ll be on your way to fresh homemade salsa, truly made from scratch.

3 Steps to Growing a Salsa Garden
to compliment grilled chicken, fish, or steak

creating a salsa garden

Step 1:

Choose Your Salsa Elements.

There are some key elements to salsa that you will want to plant in your garden.

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Corn, fresh or grilled
  • And, add a twist with nectarines or peaches

Unfortunately, not all of the above elements ripen in the garden at the same time, but tomatoes and peppers will thrive during Sacramento's hot summer months.  Many of the other ingredients prefer cooler weather, so simply supplement with store bought produce when not available at your local garden center.

If there is a recipe that you enjoy, then model the salsa garden on that based on that. If there isn't a recipe in mind, you can choose tomatoes, peppers, and herbs based on what is popular in your home. Feeling adventurous? Divide garden space between favorites and other varieties that you would like to try.  When the harvest comes in, enjoy classic favorites or invent new salsa recipes that can be enjoyed year after year.

creating a salsa garden

Tomatoes and peppers take between two-to-three months to produce fruit, but this will depend on the variety you choose to plant.

If you're looking for some inspiration, here are some of the most popular varieties:

Tomatoes:
Better Boy, Roma, Early Girl, Cherry, & Beefsteak are very popular for salsa making.  

Peppers: 
Mild: Bermuda, Poblano

Medium: Jalapeno, Fresno

Hot: Serrano, Tabasco, Cayenne

Since the peppers come in different heat levels those are some favorites at each tier.  If you find that your salsa is too hot, remove the seeds.  This will remove some of the capsaicin, the part of the fruit which is most attributed to heat.


Step 2:

Choose Your Location

A big part of any gardening is putting the plant in a place where it will be able to thrive. Salsa veggies need full sun, so it's important to plant them in a place where they get that. Herbs, including the ones you find in salsa, only require around four hours of sun each day. You'll want to find a spot that will provide your herbs with some daily afternoon shade. Fruit trees require full sun and well-drained soil. 

All of the vegetable and herb elements of a salsa garden can grow well in containers, if you remember three key things:

  • Use a large pot, giving plants room to grow
  • Remember to fertilize regularly, to keep plants nourished
  • Plant in well-draining soil to prevent root rot
  • If growing fruit trees, ultra dwarf, or pole fruit varieties do well in large pots


Step 3:

Plant and Maintain

creating a salsa garden

With the ideal spot and the perfect medley of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs you'll have the ability to make fresh salsa whenever you want. Food grown at home tastes much better than what is available in stores, not to mention it’s far more cost-effective. All that's needed is a little maintenance and with the following tips, it will be a piece of cake!

  • Add organic fertilizer to soil. Organic fertilizer will give plants the nutrients they need without burning them in the hot summer heat.
  • Pick and pinch your herbs regularly. The more herbs are picked or pinched, the more they will grow. It's also important to keep it from flowering; because once it flowers the herb will turn bitter.
  • Deep and infrequent waterings preferred. Instead of watering everyday, try a deep and infrequent watering schedule. This means letting a slow trickle of water seep in over a long period of time. This allows the water to permeate the soil and encourages root growth.
  • Convert to Drip. Drip is the easiest way to do deep infrequent waterings.
 


Want more ideas for your edible garden?

 
Green Acres on Pinterest

Topics: Salsa Garden, Peppers, Edibles, Organic Fertilizers, BBQ, Summer Garden, Planting Ideas, Veggies and Herbs, Tomatoes, Summer, Grilling

4 Ways Organic Fertilizers Help Plants Use Less Water

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Mar 29, 2014 10:26:00 AM

organic fertilizer 

With the current drought situation in California, gardeners are looking for water-wise options. Practices that were previously ignored are now gaining momentum because they help maintain beautiful gardens without using a lot of water. 

Organic fertilizer, for example, has long been promoted for its role in creating healthier soils in home gardens, but people are now realizing its water saving attributes. Although not exhaustive, here is a list of ways organic fertilizers help plants use less water:  


1.  Low-soluble-nutrient fertilizers require less water. 
Some nutrients have to be in salt form to be soluble and available for plant absorption. Salt tends to attract water and when water is not available, it will extract water from the plant.  This is the reason plants burn after synthetic fertilizer application. 

    • Organic fertilizers generally come with a lower percentage of salt than their synthetic counterparts. Therefore less water is required to dilute the fertilizer.   

2.  Organic matter improves water capacity of soil. 
Compost, animal manures, blood meal, etc. are components of organic fertilizers.  These components increase earthworm and microorganism activity in the soil – both of which improve soil organic matter content and structure. 

    • Better soil structure also means better infiltration and water-holding capacity.  Under such soil conditions, less water is lost through run-off and percolation.

3.  Slow-release of nutrients regulates plant growth. 
All nutrients have to be in their inorganic form for the plants to absorb them. In the case of organic fertilizers, the nutrients are loosely bound and have to be broken down first before they become available to the plants - hence, the term “slow-release”.  Nutrients from synthetic (inorganic) fertilizers are all readily available and soluble which is convenient in the short term but can become problematic. 

    • Once nutrients are in the soil and watered, the plants can simply absorb them.  When all conditions are favorable, plants that are fed with synthetic fertilizer (especially nitrogen-rich fertilizer) can grow at a very fast rate, almost too fast.  If you use the example of trees this easily can result in an over-lapping canopy cover. 
    • This situation then becomes a competion between trees for for essential water and food. Considering that growing plants are constantly transpiring – losing water through the leaves, synthetic fertilizer application indirectly demands excessive water.   Plants fed with organic fertilizer grow at a regulated rate and thrive on less water.

organic fertilizer

4.  Mycorrhiza extends root length.  
Some commercial organic fertilizers contain mycorrhizal inoculant including EB Stone Sure Start. Mycorrhiza is a beneficial fungus that grows symbiotically on plant roots and forms hyphae that extend way beyond the reach of the unaided roots. 

    • Such hyphae technically increase the surface area of plant roots which in turn improves the water and nutrient uptake.
    • With successful mycorrhizal growth, plants become more tolerant to water stress. Plants can withstand drought better with mycorrhiza.  

 

 

Lawn Tip: If you are looking for a slow release organic lawn fertilizer look no further than EB Stone Nature's Green Lawn Food.  

 

Low Water Plants

Topics: Organic, Organic Fertilizers, Lawn Care

4 Gardening Tips for Sacramento

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Mar 17, 2014 1:25:00 PM

spring

At Green Acres, Spring is a time of renewal. The increased sunlight and newly emerging flowers give us the feeling of hope and renewal. Spring is also a time of change and most important to fellow gardeners, growth.  

A famous Chilean author once said... 

Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera 

translation...

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” 
- Pablo Neruda



We are three days from Spring's official beginning, and if you peer outside, you can tell.  As you look toward your gardens, its important to understand what makes a healthy environment for spring growth.

Here are four foolproof ways to foster a healthy Spring garden & lawn.


1) Diverse Soil

Good soil is worth a lot! Ask any farmer what’s most important to his crop and he will say soil & water!  If you are planting in native soil we definitley recommend adding natural amendments to improve the soil.  Let's face it, unless you are gardening in the heart of downtown Sacramento, (which is the site of an old riverbed- AKA the softest and richest soil EVER), you are probably up against less than ideal soil.  
All of the soils you'll find at Green Acres are of the highest quality, mixed locally in Northern California, and contain no bio-solids like lots of the box store soils.  

Try these amendments mixed with native soil or straight to any raised bed:

  • EB Stone Planting Mix is complete with needed nutrients for your plants
  • Our EB Stone Fir Mulch adds to the aeration & composition of the soil with decomposed fir bark, chicken manure, earthworm castings, bat guano & kelp meal
  • Our EB Stone Soil Booster is an excellent mix for flowers and vegetables that reduces watering and improves aeration.  Allowing for easy root establishment of smaller species and edibles
  • EB Stone Top Soil Plus blends mushroom compost, sandy loam and redwood compost for a superb multi-use planting mix

2) Rich, Organic Fertilizer

Our E.B. Stone line of fertilizers offer the home gardener a chance to use organic products year-round!  Did you know that using organics during a low water year is important?  Organic fertilizers are slow release and provide sustained nutrients throughtout the season.  Avoid synthetics when possible (like Miracle Grow), which encourage rapid water-thirsty growth.

EB Stone Organic Fertilizers:

  • Sure Start 4-6-2 helps new plants get off to the right start.  Reduces transplant shock, encouraging root establishment and sturdy growth. This product even has soil microbes which are colonies of minute, beneficial bacteria.
  • Bone Meal is wonderful for root and flower formation growth. Can be used for veggies or flowers!
  • Cottonseed Meal naturally acidifies the surrounding soil-great for blueberries, azaleas & camellias
  • Bulb Food 4-6-4 allows bulbs to send deep, sturdy roots into surrounding earth while promoting blooms


3) Unique Plant Choices for Spring & Early Summer

Great gardens start with healthy plants.  Try something new this season, choose unique varieties or cultivars that expand the diversity of your landscape.  Have some fun!
Bulbs & Tubers such as Dahlias, Bleeding Hearts, and Gladiolas are available at our locations now.  Plant these bulbs and tubers now, and then get gorgeous fresh cut flowers for your home come summer.  If you live in the foothills of Sacramento, Pollock Pines for example, you have until mid-May to plant.  For those of us down the hill, plant now through mid April for summer blooms!

  • Try summer bulbs & tubers such as towering Gladiolas that emerge onto 48”+ stalks and provide month-long color. Shorter options include Dahlias, Lily of the Valley, or Bleeding Hearts. Some require shade.
  • Annuals such as Marigolds, Sweet Alyssum, Zinnias, Coleus, Impatiens and Begonias will add rich color to the yard.  Planting flowers like Sweet Alyssum and Zinnias next to your veggies actually increase the number of good insects in your garden.  Always a plus!
  • Perennials like Lavender, Salvia, Pincushion Flower, Lupine, and Mexican Evening Primrose will attract beneficial insects, hummingbirds, birds and bees.  Remember, perennials are those which will come back year after year for your enjoyment.


4) Smart, Low-Water Use Irrigation

Be a water-wise homeowner.  Retrofitting your current system to be more efficient does not require much work or money-it simply means changing out sprinkler heads or moving to drip systems.  Our Irrigation Specialists can answer your questions, just drop on by.  We can provide information about tuning up or retrofitting.


Be Water-Wise, these are some of our favorites:

  • Thumb-controlled water nozzles like nozzles from Dramm
  • Soaker hoses for perennial and shrub beds
  • Orbit Apollo 8 Manifold which converts any old sprinkler head into a Drip watering system.  Cost is around $10.00. 
  • Water-conserving sprinkler heads like the Hunter MP Rotator.
  • Smarter irrigation clocks like the Hunter Solar Sync ET.  This is an advanced weather sensor that can adjust water times and schedules for your clock based on local real-time weather conditions.  Rebate programs available in some cities.

Water Conservation Tips making for a Healthier Lawn:

As you walk around your neighborhood you might notice that some of your neighbors like to water the sidewalk more than their lawn.  Basically, they are overwatering their lawn and once the lawn is saturated, the excess water simply runs off.  Cycle & Soak is a method of watering proven to conserve water.  

For example, instead of watering all at once, the Cycle & Soak method would have you set your sprinklers to water lawn:

  • 3 times a day
  • 4 minutes each watering zone
  • 1 hour between each watering cycle

You must take into consideration what type of soil you have before you determine watering times.  Always avoid watering at night- which increases the risk for disease and fungus.  Also avoid watering in the heat of the day, which of course causes increased evaporation and increased water waste.

 

Happy almost Spring.

 

 

Topics: Soil, Fertilizers, What Can I Plant This Season?, Irrigation Tips, Organic, Organic Fertilizers, Lawn Care

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