Thursday, March 26, 2009

Organic Gardening: It's Time to Think Spring!

Spring is in the air and the time to plant is at hand.  For organic gardening, timing our planting is even more crucial.  Now is the time to get in items such as lettuce, spinach, potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, cabbage and if you haven't done it already, peas.

Fertilizers and Soil for Organic Gardening

One of the largest stumbling blocks for most people who attempt organic gardening is finding truly organic fertilizers and soil amendments that are trustworthy. With the plethora of "organic" items on the shelves of big box stores, how can you know who to trust and how do organic and chemical solutions differ in how they work?

Chemical fertilizers are made from chemically processed or refined materials. They encourage plants to suck nutrients out of the soil, leaving it infertile. Many contain harsh substances like sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, which can leach into groundwater and pollute the environment.

I once had the great privilege of hearing Dr. Vandana Shiva give a talk in Torino, Italy as she explained that when you plant poisons into the ground with your seeds you can only harvest more poisons. It seems like a simple thing to grasp, and yet our tendency toward quick fixes keeps our eyes closed at times.

Organic fertilizers are made from natural materials. Unlike chemical products, they encourage the soil's growth of micro-organisms, which break down old plant material and convert nutrients into food. Over time, your soil becomes healthier and more fertile. Your plants grow hardy and robust, year after year.  Although it may take more work in the short run, in the long run organic gardening is better for our yield and our health.

So when you look for products to work with nature in your garden rather than against it, always look for companies you can trust, and that usually means those who served our needs before organic gardening became the thing to do. One such company, who we trust with all of our farming, gardening and animal husbandry needs is Fertrell. They have been in the business of providing organic solutions since 1946.

The Fertrell Company is the oldest producer of organic fertilizers in the United States. We decided to become dealers for Fertrell because we have trusted them for years and their reputation for quality and service is second to none. You can now purchase Fertrell products in 50 pound bags, by the ton, or by 5 and 10 pound bags for home gardening. We use Fertrell products in all of our organic chicken feeds.

So jump into spring on the right foot and remember that what you put into your soil is what you get out in the end! Happy organic gardening!


  1. The cows in your slide show look like Ancient White Park Cattle. Is this what they are? I know River Ridge Farms has one of your bulls but I've not been out to see it as of yet. Would love to hear more about your cattle.

    Also, would love to hear more about how you naturally fertilize your grain fields. Do you use a lot of Fertrell products for this purpose?


  2. Hello Kristin,
    Thank you so much for your comment. In all my research on the British White cattle it seems that although most people will admit that at some point they were relatives of some kind, they are distinctly different breeds. The White Park are horned and not quite as famous for their docile nature as the British Whites.
    We love the British Whites for many reasons. They can be raised very successfully without grain and since we are 100% grass feeding our cattle and sheep, this is very important to us. They can reach weights of 1200lbs in 19 or 20 months on grass alone. I have a herd of Scottish Highland cattle myself and plan to cross breed for this reason.

    In regards to your question about our grains fields, we are quite limited in what we can use due to our organic certification so we must be very careful because one application of the wrong product could cause quite a problem.
    We utilize many products from Midwestern BioAg and have been very pleased with the results. We sample our soils often and keep a very close watch on the amount of organic matter. We have made our own compost in large quantities and that has helped a great deal with keeping fertility where we want it.

    Fertrell is a great company and we are working on becoming dealers for their products. All of our livestock benefit from their products. We use the Nutribalancers and kelp for cattle and sheep and we utilize the Poultry Nutribalancer, calcium, probiotics and fish meal for the chickens.

    Thanks again for your comment

  3. Thanks for the response! I would love to hear how and what you compost. I do understand you are limited being certified organic. And I appreciate all the efforts. I feel good, safe feeding your grains to my family.