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The Chicks Are Arriving!!

The chicks are arriving!!!

The Spring bulbs are in -with excellent dahlias!!

The potatoes and onions are in – and what a line-up of varieties!

(22 varieties of potatoes!)

Fresh grass seed is in!

Vermont Compost Company, Canna, Coast of Maine are all in!!!

And the workshop schedule is done through June!!


That means spring HAS to be just around the corner…I started this newsletter as the ice was still clinging to the trees outside the windows of the office and the ice glaze was still wide spread in the pastures.  That’s one of the problems of living on the side of Mt Wachusett – great place to live but ice does linger…but warmer weather is on the horizon - along with more rain that arrived today as I finish the newsletter. We don’t need more rain…


Back to the arrival of the chicks – This week’s order is closed but there are multiple weeks ahead to place your order into.  We have everything you need to set up a safe growing zone for your baby birds and will have all of it on hand when we call you with the delivery dates.  Ask for the order forms at the front desk, and we’ll happily add your order to the lists. If you’re not sure what’s needed to get your chicks off smoothly then be sure to ask and we’ll set you up.  Every baby bird that lands at the store gets Hydro Hen as its first drink.  That’s an electrolyte and sugar combination along with probiotics that helps to get the babies off to a strong start.  Then they have access to Poulin’s Chick Starter with a little extra Azomite worked in for micro-mineral support.  We keep a sharp eye out on all of the chicks and step in if one needs a helping hand so you know you’ll be picking up healthy birds.


We’re also off to the races with baby animals of all kinds popping in to the picture – personally, our first baby goats have arrived! A very well-bred goat with two superb babies – and the next doe is due in a few days…  What’s going on in your world?  We have all kinds of support for young animals that might need a bit more care…and remember that excellent care for the mother means healthy babies.  We’re happy to talk through different feed options and supplements.


Now let’s talk about compost…  

Everyone seems to know that compost is a “good thing” 

but here are a few things you might like to know ☺


  1. There is no legal definition of compost (or loam for that matter)

  2. The quality of the compost is only as good as the feedstock that makes the compost

  3. The more rain a compost pile sustains the less nutrition is left in the product


No surprises here but it helps to have a clear starting point to discussing the realities of compost.


Back to that “it’s a good thing” statement… compost as a generalized human concept has been around since around 2000 BC – that’s quite a long time!!  These are not new concepts – take the organic remnants (plant or animal) of human endeavors and return them to the land in order to enrich the soil and produce better crops the next time around.  Before the advent of chemical fertilizers around the turn of the 20th century that recycling model was the ONLY option available.  WWII massively expanded chemically dependent agriculture/horticulture (thanks to the munitions companies that needed a new outlet for their products once the bombs weren’t needed at a profitable level).  Then came the 60’s and the “Back to the Land Movement”, the start of the Rodale institute with Organic Gardening magazine, Rachel Carson and the book Silent Spring and the earliest beginnings of the entire Organic movement.  This brought the whole idea of an actual product called “compost” into being and it’s from that point that we all know that “compost is a good thing”.  Now we make our own (sort of for most of us) or buy it in bags or by the yard.


What does compost actually do though?  

  1. It provides the carbon (in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats) that feed the soil system’s microbes.  A superb quality of compost can almost be medicinal in its positive effects on plants and soil systems. 

  2. It provides some mineral nutrition depending on the feedstocks in the pile and how well the pile has been managed.  In general, it doesn’t supply as much mineral support as people think it does. There are ways to improve your compost if you’re interested.

  3. It can be used as an active mulch providing much more value than bark mulch.


There are some absolutely excellent books out there on how to create truly nutritional and health generating composts.  One of the best is No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture – written by Bryan O’Hara -  He’s a fascinating individual to listen to and his book is an excellent resource on how to actually feed a soil system so well that 2.5 acres can produce well over $100,000 of superb quality veggies.  Now – I grant you – most of us don’t want to have to function at his level with our compost piles but it helps to know what can be achieved and what value it really can bring to the working landscape.


So, now you know that there are heights to which you can rise in making your compost – but what if you don’t have the time, the drive to create your own or the interest?  Then, you’ll have to buy either bagged or bulk compost.  


Enter some choices…  take The Good Earth’s options as an example…


There are the composted cow manures – a cost effective way of adding basic carbon to the garden but there’s no way of knowing how the cows were fed or medicated and the quality of a manure is based on the actual health of the animal… if buying locally, be sure to ask how the animals are being managed.


There are the Coast of Maine products with names like Penobscot, Quoddy, Bar Harbor and Stonington.  Coast of Maine has an outstanding reputation for controlling its feedstocks and its composting processes.  I’ve personally used the Quoddy mix for over 20 years and it’s always been reliable.  Stonington really adds real nutrition to any garden project and was actually created for high intensity growing. Check here for more details -  


And finally – let me introduce you to Vermont Compost Company’s line of composts!  New this year and just recently arrived – these are premier composts. Check out their website - and look at the quality of the mule that’s on the main page and you’ll see why I mention the quality of the animal leads to the quality of the compost.  That’s an animal that anyone could be proud of.  Everything that Vermont Compost (VC) does is tested, monitored, crafted to be a totally reliable product.  


VC is best known for its potting soil called Fort Vee – a compost based potting soil that includes a mix of finely ground granite and basalt, which provides slow-release minerals in your gardens for years after transplant.  It’s been crafted to work well with soil blocking tools and can be lightened up if working with more traditional potting programs. We’re really pleased to add this to the top-quality potting mix line-up.


We’re also bringing in the VC’s Manure Compost, Compost Plus and Perennial Blend.  All three have been developed to actually do a job for your garden or containers when you use them.  You can check here for the descriptions.


And I can’t end this newsletter without a quick look ahead at the programs we’ve got worked out.  


First up – we’re introducing a zoom presentation…Yup – Zoom!!


This is a chance for those who are interested in a bit of a biological stretch to learn about some complex but really useful aspects of managing plants.  I use this information ALL THE TIME…it’s the reason why we didn’t spray any fungicides at the store last year despite all of the rain…and only sprayed for insects once with an insecticidal soap.  That’s a VERY small price to pay chemically speaking for healthy plants for you to take home.  I’ve worked with the presenters (Dennis and Steve from Tainio) for several years.  Here are the details:


April 10, 6:30pm on Zoom (reach out to altobelliml260@comcast.net and put Tainio in the subject line.  I’ll send you the link) This program is free but participation is limited to 25.


And here’s what we’ll be talking about:


Working with the Biological Basics of Agricultural Plant and Soil Health


Dennis and Steve from Tainio -  will present a brief description of the phyllosphere (the plant’s microbiome above ground) and the rhizosphere (the plant’s microbiome below ground) and then go on to provide management strategies to maintain the health of both.  Climatic, nutritional, chemical and mechanical management strategies can all take a toll on a plant’s health and increase the need for chemical controls that immediately hit the bottom line.  The healthier the plant’s microbiomes are the more they can resist stresses of all kinds.  There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.  


And now for the rest of the regularly scheduled programs!

April 13: Building a Raised Bed, 10:00-11:30am ($15)  Raised beds are a boon to anyone who can’t (or won’t) get down on the ground and can be placed anywhere regardless of soil quality (or no soil at all) below the bed…But…a lot of raised beds don’t thrive and produce, especially after the first year.  Raised beds are different from in-ground garden beds and there are techniques that will assure your success once you put them into practice. Limit 12


April 13:  Correctly starting your Cannabis plants, 1:00-2:30pm – setting up for excellent root and shoot development., $35 per person. Pay for all 3 up front and save $15 ($90 instead of $105). Other dates are 6/22 and 8/17.


April 20:  1:00-2:30pm Creating Pollinator Gardens for Birds, Bees and Butterflies ($15)

Bees, butterflies and birds are all fun to watch and critical to a healthy landscape.  Colorful meadow flowers make both the world and the garden go ‘round. It’s a feast for human eyes and helps the three B’s thrive.  The healthier and more diverse your flowers are, the stronger the bees and the butterflies will be.  But – meadows don’t just happen.  Annuals, perennials, natives and exotics – all have a place.  Come and learn how to make the best of your color dollars. Limit 12


April 27: 10:00-11:30 Creating Ornamental or Vegetable Containers ($15 plus the cost of materials)

Hands – on.  All sorts of plants can be grown in containers – even corn and carrots, dahlias and roses!  Learn about soil mixes and fertilizer support needed for successful – not to mention spectacular - container gardens.  You’ll be able to pick from several containers and plant combinations and will take a container home with you. Limit 12


April 27: 1:00-2:30pm Herbs: How to Grow and Harvest – Carrie Novak ($15)

You may have noticed the catnip mice at the store…   Carrie loves her herbs -especially her catnip!  She’s going to walk you through the basics of growing AND harvesting quality herbs for both food and fun!  Limit 12


May 4: Mineral Mixing Day ($15 plus cost of mix) 

New England soils are very old and damaged soils – but you can change that!!!  Learn how to mix a complex stone dust mix that gets added to all kinds of soil to bring your soil back to life.  You will actually mix the mix yourself and take it home for your garden(s).  Ask all kinds of questions too!!  Space limited so reserve early.  Cost of mix (weighed out individually at the end of the workshop) to be determined by current delivered prices. Limit 12 


June 22: 10:00-11:30 am Working with Foliar Sprays – ($30/person includes leaf inoculants) to take home.  And, here’s where the rubber really hits the road – or should I say leaf??  Foliar sprays can kill insects and diseases directly, but they can also be used to prevent problems from developing and can directly increase the base line health of your plants.  If you’re planning on eating anything from your plants then you’ll also see an improvement in flavor.  limit 12 – and includes enough foliar support for you to spray a gallon when you get home.


June 22: 1:00-2:30  Growing Quality Cannabis Part 2 

Pre-flower production – time to shift from veg to flower, how to expand and strengthen bud quality.


August 17: 1:00-2:30  Growing Quality Cannabis Part 3

Harvesting your crops – the KEY to enjoying your crop. Slow and steady wins the taste challenge. Using tools and resources for long term storage.


Whew – that’s a lot!!!  Don’t worry, we’ll be reminding you of upcoming events, but it’s sometimes helpful to have the whole schedule put in front of you.  


Looking forward to seeing you at the store!


The Good Earth


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