So here it is, spring of 2020, people are putting their gardens in, and Good Sweet Earth is...out of Worm Compost? Uh, what?!
Yeah, for the past several weeks, if you've tried to purchase Living Worm Compost on our website, you've probably noticed that we're sold out. So just what the heck's going on here? Isn't Worm Compost what put us on the map?
Here's the scoop: Last summer, we began selling CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares of our Worm Compost. Basically, that means, people can pre-pay for either 100, 200 or 300 pounds of our Worm Compost, and then when they need some, we deliver the amount they need right to their doorstep.
So the CSA program was pretty popular with local gardeners. We sold a lot of shares of the CSA over the past year. And that means we need to have enough Worm Compost on-hand to deliver to our shareholders at all times. We also had a quick burst of Worm Compost sales in March.
Now normally, we would have no problem having enough Worm Compost to provide our shareholders with what they purchased AND enough to sell by the bagful to gardeners throughout the spring. But then COVID-19 hit, and our usual sources of worm food sorta dried up for a while, which means our worms are running a few weeks behind schedule. They weren't getting fed the normal amount of rotten produce, so we're not able to bag up the normal amount of castings.
But fear not! We're again collecting that unused produce from our local sources. And we're shoving those rotten fruits and veggies into our bins as fast as our hungry worms can eat them. We're expecting to have Worm Compost available for sale again by mid-June.
We know it's not ideal, and we really do apologize for the delay. But we also thank you for your continued interest in our Living Worm Compost! (And might we suggest buying into our Worm Compost CSA once it's available for purchase again, because when you pre-pay for the stuff, you've always got dibs; you're guaranteed Worm Compost even when it's not available for the general public to purchase!)
In the meantime, we've got plenty of our Worm Tea, Raw Biochar, Alfalfa Meal and Bold Tomato.
One of the services we're most proud of at Good Sweet Earth is our free delivery of products to any home in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Muskegon Counties. You order our Living Worm Compost, Worm Tea, Raw Biochar, Dutch White Clover Seed or Bold Tomato soil amendment, and we'll drop it off at your door free of charge!
The reason we're able to do this is we piggy-back our deliveries with our lawn fertilization jobs. So in an effort to keep our prices low and reduce our environmental impact, we're introducing delivery days for every part of our service area. This way, if we're in Grandville spraying lawns, we'll do our deliveries the same day. If we're in Muskegon, we'll do our Muskegon County deliveries that day too.
If you've ordered a Worm Tea CSA share, we'll do everything we can do deliver on the day you request, as long as we get 24-hours notice before the delivery date. Per-gallon purchases of Worm Tea will be delivered according to the schedule below.
Below is our delivery schedule for May-October, 2019:
Sunday: No deliveries
Monday: Muskegon County, Ottawa County
Tuesday: Allegan County, Southern Ottawa County (south of Lake Michigan Dr)
Wednesday: Southeastern Ottawa County (East of 64th, South of Lake Michigan Dr), Southwestern Kent County (West of 131, south of 28th)
Thursday: Kent County
Friday: Northern and Eastern Kent County (North of 28th/Grand River, East of 131)
Saturday: We make deliveries anywhere in our service area, but limited delivery spaces available, deliveries will be made on a first-come-first served basis.
Check out our online store to shop!
This is a Q&A blog series on healthy organic turf. If you have a question for Good Sweet Earth's lawn guy, Steve, shoot him an email at steve@GoodSweetEarth.com, and include "Ask the Lawn Guy" in the subject line.
Most people know what sandy soil and clay soil look like. They know that sandy soil is pretty loose and doesn't hold water very well. They know that clay soil can often feel hard and compacted. Most people also also know that nothing grows especially well in soil that's either of these two things.
Somewhere in between sand particles and clay particles lies silt. Loam soil contains a balance of all three types of particles.
So the question that I got recently was this: "How much sand should I add to my clay soil to loosen it up and make it usable?" And I suppose the counterpart to this question could be "How much clay should I add to sandy soil?"
In short, the answer is: Don't bother. You'll make your soil even worse by trying to change its structure with sand or clay.
Imagine your clay particles as marbles. Proportionally speaking, silt would be about the size of a basketball compared to those marbles. Now I had a hard time coming up with a real-world object that would be representative of a sand particle next to our marble-sized clay particle. The best I could come up with is this: Picture a ball slightly larger than a three-car garage. Yep. That's a sand particle next to a clay particle.
Now imagine you had a field full of marbles. And you want to "loosen" things up. I don't care how many three-car garages you add to that field of marbles, you're never, ever going to end up with a field full of basketballs. You're just gonna have a bunch of really small balls and really large balls, and they're not going to work together for anyone's good because you're never going to have enough garage-balls to balance the little marbles.
Ideally, healthy soil is equal parts marbles, basketballs and three-car garages. But getting that balance is so much harder than it sounds. I don't recommend attempting to change the mineral structure of your soil this way.
So what is a clay-burdened or sand-burdened gardener to do? Two words: Organic matter.
Clay-heavy soil has a very difficult time getting air through its tiny, tightly-bound particles. Roots also have a hard time moving through them. Organic matter, like compost or organic fertilizers, changes everything. This is the answer you seek, not sand. Mix that organic matter into your clay soil or top-dress it. Adding organic matter will make your clay soil usable in a way that adding sand never will.
Likewise, if you're dealing with sandy soil (an especially common problem if you live by the Lake Michigan lakeshore), adding organic matter will help your soil retain water and nutrients so much better.
Types of organic matter that you can add to your soil to make it healthier include basic compost (that many gardeners make in their own backyards), Worm Compost or Alfalfa Meal. Biochar (mixed with some sort of composted material) also makes for a terrific soil amendment.
For really compacted clay soil, gypsum is a good, natural option for de-compacting it before adding organic matter. For compacted lawns with clay soil, aeration is a good option, best done in the fall, followed by a top-dressing of organic matter and/or gypsum.
The website, Your Green Pal, has a great list of things you should have on-hand as the weather begins to warm and your yard starts to grow again. Best of all, their list is free of synthetic chemicals, so if you're going the organic route in your yard, this list is a must-read.
Click here for their 2019 Spring Cleaning Buyers Guide.
We also appreciate their including Good Sweet Earth on their list of things to purchase in the spring (#5: Soil additives from Good Sweet Earth). We didn't ask to be included, but we sure appreciate the shout out on a national website!
This is the third story in a three-part series on how to deal with garden pests chemical-free.
Garden pests—we all get them, but how do you deal with the pests without spraying chemicals on your food? No worries we are here to help!
The final pesky garden pest we'll discuss are Japanese Beetles. I hate to say it, but Japanese Beetles are actually quite beautiful, with blue-green heads and copper backs. These small beetles are about a half inch long, travel in groups, and eat almost any plant. Favorite feasts for this pest include roses, beans, and raspberries.
Japanese beetles start out as grubs in your soil then emerge in June as adult beetles. As grubs, they destroy the roots of your grass before coming to the surface to then attack your plants. While their adult life is only 40 days, they can easy destroy your garden if left unchecked.
So what is a chemical free gardener to do? Luckily you have quite a few options! I seem to deal with Japanese Beetles every season since moving to West Michigan. Even if you do not have grubs in your soil the Japanese Beetles can easily fly over from your neighbor’s yard.
Row covers are quite effective in protecting plants if used during the beetles life cycle.
If covering your crops isn't your game, hand picking the beetles in the morning when they are most active is quite easy, as they are quite slow. As I catch the pests, I put them into a bowl of water. If you have chickens, your feathered friends will enjoy the treat. If you are not going to feed the beetles to another animal add dish soap to the water so they cannot fly away.
When handpicking just isn’t enough you can spray your plants with Neem Oil. I spray my roses with Neem Oil since handpicking around the thorns isn’t practical.
If you see Japanese Beetles in your garden don’t stress! You are now armed with a plan of attack to save your season.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.