In 2017, (thanks to our customers!) we were able to support more non-profits and environmental organizations than ever before
The primary reason we got into the organic lawn and garden business was to make a difference. Taking care of our planet is important to us. That means we want to make soil healthier, water cleaner, loved ones less-exposed to carcinogens, pets safer, farms more sustainable, air less-polluted and plants less-reliant upon chemicals from a laboratory.
Our company's motto is “Healing the planet, one yard at a time.” We know that fixing the planet is a lot bigger job than we can handle with our soil amendments, fertilizers and lawn & garden services, which is why we make it a point to give back to organizations that believe in the same things we believe in: growing community gardens, promoting sustainable family farming, cleaning up our waterways, reducing waste and combating climate change.
In 2017, we did this in three ways:
First, we donated a portion of our profits to organizations that support sustainable agriculture and a cleaner environment. Last year, those organizations were Farm Aid and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Second, we partnered with West Michigan non-profits that have started community gardens, through our Give-a-Bucket program. In 2017, the two organizations that we worked with were Benjamin’s Hope in Holland and SECOM Resource Center in Grand Rapids. Individuals were able to donate Living Worm Compost at a reduced rate directly to those organizations’ gardens.
Finally, we made several in-kind donations to groups like Camp Sunshine, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Eighth Day Farm, to help support the work that they do.
And so in 2017, because of Good Sweet Earth's amazing customers, we were able to give just over $850 in cash, compost and services to all of those great organizations listed above. In 2018, we’ll be doing it again, and we hope to double, or even triple, that amount. The more we bring in, the more we give away!
So thank you, friends and family, for helping us in our mission to heal the planet, starting with your yard. Then from your yard, through donations, we’ve been able to reach even further across our planet, bringing about cleaner water and soil, a reduction in greenhouse gasses, and stronger family farms. In fact, every bag of compost or gallon of Worm Tea you buy helps heal the planet well beyond the edge of your yard!
In West Michigan this time of year, especially in the Holland area, it's hard to avoid the hype around the tulip-- and for good reason. These bulbous members of the lily family are an annual reminder that spring has sprung; they thrive in areas with dry summers and cold winters, so West Michigan is a great place to enjoy them.
If you're interested in growing tulips, or even if you've had them in your yard for years, we've got some tips for getting the most from these beautiful perennials.
Tulips don't last long, but they are a welcome flash of color after a cold gray winter. Follow these tips and yours will be the envy of the neighborhood for years to come.
Source: Farmer's Almanac. Read more on raising tulips here.
I often hear at Farmer’s Markets that people would love to garden, but spring got away from them and now it’s too late. What if I told you it’s not too late? This is the perfect time to dig out that grass and till your soil or if you prefer raised bed, like I do, let’s get building.
Here on the Good Sweet Earth homestead we are always trying to take steps toward food self-sufficiency and this fall we plan on installing a few more raised beds too. Our raised beds will be earmarked for berries come spring, but this summer and fall we have a few ideas for some fast growing vegetables that we can still plant and harvest this year.
August is the perfect time to plant radishes, arugula, baby spinach, lettuce, and snap peas. Radishes take a mere 22 days to harvest and can be grown until the first frost. Snap Peas depending on variety take about 60 days to harvest. If you are feeling adventurous you could even plant some beets, broccoli, kale or swiss chard since all these vegetables take about 60 days to harvest too.
Remember the days to harvest is not counted from the day you put the seed in the ground until you harvest but rather once the seed is germinated and growing to harvest. Check your first frost date. Here in Zeeland, Michigan, our first frost date is October 10 which means we have a 50 percent chance of frost. Our short growing season 156 days will come to an end before we know it so let’s make the most of it! Happy (August) gardening!
Did you know there are different types of soil? Obviously, there are sands and clays and potting mixes and top soils, etc. There are also different brands that sell soil in garden-supply stores. But there are actual named series of soils. Soil, in one place, can have overall properties that make it unique to soil from other areas. Some soil is good for growing cotton, some soil is good for specific trees, some soil is good for root crops, etc.
Now here's something you can 'wow' them with at your next cocktail party: Michigan actually has an official state soil! It’s called Kalkaska sand.
In the 1970s, scientists began sifting through (ha!) over 400 different types of Michigan soil in order to come up with the one that best represents our state. Some of the things they considered: Widespread presence (Kalkaska sand covers over a million acres across both the upper and lower peninsulas), whether it supports a common state crop (trees grow well in Kalkaska; lumber is a state industry), and even physical appearance (it’s a beautiful reddish brown).
After many years of deliberation, they concluded that Kalkaska sand won out over the other candidates, and in 1991, over 150 conservationists, environmentalists and government leaders gathered in Kalkaska County to dedicate the newly-designated state soil.
A little bit about our state soil: Kalkaska sand is a multi-layer soil composed of humus, light sand, dark sand, and yellowish sand. As you dig down into the Kalkaska soil, distinctive layers can range from very dark to yellowish-brown and are commonly 2 to 4 feet deep. Kalkaska sand is a well-drained soil and can very effectively filter water. This makes it a valuable asset in forestry. It’s also the reason lakes and rivers located in areas of the state where Kalkaska sand is abundant are so darn clean.
While it’s not found in west Michigan south of Manistee, nor is it very good for lawns and gardens, it just goes to show that soil is so unique and diverse– and important– that states and scientists will go out of their way to actually recognize and celebrate it. We should too! It’s fragile and critical to our food and water supply.
Don't just call it “dirt.” It’s soil-- and if we don’t have healthy soil, there’s no hope for us to be healthy either.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.