- How long should I let my lawn get before mowing?
- Are organic fertilizer’s really safe for my kids and pets?
- Is there an organic way to get rid of weeds?
- What does the word “organic” mean?
- What does USDA Certified Organic mean?
- Is there a safe way to keep deer and/or rabbits out of my gardens?
- When is the best time to seed or reseed my lawn?
- How many applications of organic fertilizer will I need to use before I start seeing results?
- Isn’t organic more expensive?
- Do organic fertilizers really work?
- I’ve heard something about using newspaper to help prevent weeds. What
is that all about? How does it work?
- Is tilling bad for my gardens?
- Why should I garden organically, anyway? Does it really make a difference?
- How can I get rid of moles, organically?
- What is de-thatching and is it something that I should do?
- When is the best time of year to plant new trees and shrubs?
- What is compost and how would it help my yard and gardens?
- I would like to get started composting on my own. How do you suggest I go about getting this started? Is there something I need to buy to do this?
- Someone told me to try out “worm castings”. What is this and what benefits would it bring to my yard and/or gardens?
- I have been hearing a lot about rain gardens lately. What are they?
- What are rain barrels? Do I need one?
- Is there an organic way for me to get rid of chiggers? They are infesting my gardens!
- I have a new home that doesn’t have any flower beds. Do I need to kill all the grass in the areas where I want the beds to go? How do I go about doing this?
- When should I prune my trees and shrubs?
How long should I let my lawn get before mowing?
The length of your grass roots is directly related to how tall the grass blades are. Cutting your grass short to avoid having to mow as often also shortens the depth that the roots penetrate and makes your grass less drought tolerant. We recommend that you set your mower deck as high as it will go, which usually means it will be between 3“ and 4” tall.
Are organic fertilizer’s really safe for my kids and pets?
Yes, they are. Organic fertilizers contain all natural ingredients with no synthetic chemicals. They generally require no warning signs after application and no special safety precautions for the user.
Is there an organic way to get rid of weeds?
There are a few options for eliminating weeds organically. Corn gluten can be used as a pre-emergent to prevent weed seeds from germinating and can be applied to lawns as well as landscape beds. Non-selective weed-killers, such as Burn Out or Horticultural Vinegar can be applied as a spray to existing weeds. The more established the plant, the more persistence it will require. To stop weeds in your landscape beds, also consider using newspaper under the mulch. Newspaper, 7-8 sheets thick, along with 2”-3” of mulch will suppress weeds, allow water to soak through and will break down naturally over time.
What does the word “organic” mean?
Growing plants organically means using only fertilizers and pesticides that are derived from animals or vegetables, rather than synthetically produced chemicals.
What does USDA Certified Organic mean?
Marvin’s Organic Gardens is a USDA certified organic facility, which means that the U.S. Department of Agriculture verifies that our production practices meet national standards. You can find out more about the National Organic Program at www.ams.usda.gov.
Is there a safe way to keep deer and/or rabbits out of my gardens?
There are several products that can be used to repel pests from your garden. They generally rely on using odors the animal finds offensive or using predatory scents to frighten them away. We encourage you to change the product you use frequently to keep the pests from getting used to any one scent. Consider using products such as Deer Scram (available on our website to purchase), Shake Away, Liquid Fence or Deer Pharm to keep unwanted visitors out.
When is the best time to seed or reseed my lawn?
The best time to seed a lawn is usually mid-September. Grass seed germinates best with warm days and cool nights. The next best time would be in the spring.
How many applications of organic fertilizer will I need to use before I start seeing results?
Only one! You should start seeing results immediately. Like synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers will supply quick-release, water-soluble nitrogen to green up your lawn and plants right away. Unlike synthetic fertilizers, however, organic fertilizers also provide an insoluble, slow-release nitrogen that will continue to feed your lawn for months.
Isn’t organic more expensive?
No! In general, organic methods require fewer applications of fertilizer, because the fertilizer isn’t all water-soluble. Furthermore, organic methods help build healthier soils and promote a healthy food soil web.
Do organic fertilizers really work?
Absolutely! Organic fertilizers actually work better than synthetic fertilizers because they encourage healthier soils, rather than destroying the natural microbial life that should be helping your plants take in more nutrients and water.
I’ve heard something about using newspaper to help prevent weeds. What
is that all about? How does it work?
Using newspaper 7-8 sheets thick underneath your mulch will help suppress weeds while still allowing for oxygen and water penetration. Plus, they’ll degrade naturally over time.
Is tilling bad for my gardens?
We discourage deep tilling because it destroys the structure of the soil, breaking up the mycorrhizal network, injuring earthworms and small insects as well as damaging aeration and drainage. These are the things that make your soil healthy and produce better plants. Rather than deep-tilling, we recommend that you add a few inches of compost to your garden and let all those beneficial organisms do the work for you!
Why should I garden organically, anyway? Does it really make a difference?
There are many reasons a person may choose to garden organically. It’s better for the environment, it’s safer for your pets and children and it relies on more sustainable practices than traditional gardening methods. However, the best reason to garden organically is because it will produce a healthier garden for you. Organic gardening encourages rich, healthy soils, more beneficial insects and microbial life, and can help make your garden more hospitable to attracting birds and butterflies.
How can I get rid of moles, organically?
There are two options for organic mole removal, traps or repellents. The term “mole trap” is actually a misnomer because they kill the mole in the tunnel. Repellents, such as Chase Mole and Gopher Repellent (available for sale on our website), are castor oil based which burrowing animals tend to find offensive. Castor oil products should not be used around vegetable gardens.
What is de-thatching and is it something that I should do?
De-thatching is not usually necessary. Thatch buildup is usually a result of not having sufficient levels of the microbes in the soil that help to break down the grass clippings that come from mowing. You can improve this by adding organic matter such as compost as a top-dressing over your grass and only using organic fertilizers rather than synthetic.
When is the best time of year to plant new trees and shrubs?
The best time of year to plant trees and shrubs is actually the fall. Once the plants start going dormant they can focus all their energy on creating a strong root system rather than on making new leaves and flowering. By the time spring comes, they’ve got a great head start!
What is compost and how would it help my yard and gardens?
Compost is simply decomposed organic matter. When added to you garden it helps to improve the structure of your soils as well as attract the microbes and earthworms that help maintain healthy soils.
I would like to get started composting on my own. How do you suggest I go about getting this started? Is there something I need to buy to do this?
Composting can be done anywhere you don’t mind having a pile of yard and even kitchen waste in your yard. You can compost without buying a bin, however we do sell several kinds of composters at Marvin’s. You can also build a simple three sided structure to keep your compost looking neat. All organic materials will decompose on their own, but there are a few things you can do to help speed the process up. First, try to increase the surface area available. A pile of wood chips is going to break down faster than a log, for example. Second, add some fertilizer. The added nitrogen in fertilizer will help feed the microbes that are doing the work. Finally, all living things need air and water and those microbes are no different. By turning the pile and watering it occasionally, you’ll help maintain efficient decomposition.
Someone told me to try out “worm castings”. What is this and what benefits would it bring to my yard and/or gardens?
Worm castings are actually what worms leave behind as they move through the soil. Worm poop, if you will. It is also an extremely rich, natural fertilizer that improves your soil’s water retention. It can be used as an additive to your potting soil or sprinkled around the root zone of your bedding plants. Plus, you can use as much as you like without burning your plants.
I have been hearing a lot about rain gardens lately. What are they?
Rain gardens are usually planted in a depression and are designed to help slow excess rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces. They generally take advantage of plants that can tolerate saturated soils as well as drier conditions between rainfalls. If you are interested in creating a rain garden in your yard, there are several books and websites on the subject that you can consult, or feel free to call our landscape department.
What are rain barrels? Do I need one?
Rain barrels sit below your downspouts and collect the rain that runs off your roof. They usually hold around 50 gallons of free water for you to use for watering your plants! If your downspouts are hooked into a city sewer system, be sure to check for any regulations before you unhook your downspouts.
Is there an organic way for me to get rid of chiggers? They are infesting my gardens!
You can do a broadcast application of diatomaceous earth to help reduce the number of chiggers in your beds. However, you should also consider if there are any things you can change to make your beds less appealing to them. They like moisture, so try to fix any drainage issues you might have. They also like to have plenty of hiding places for themselves as well as the small insects the adults eat and the small mammals the larva feed on when you aren’t handy! Clear out any overgrowth or weeds to make the beds less hospitable.
I have a new home that doesn’t have any flower beds. Do I need to kill all the grass in the areas where I want the beds to go? How do I go about doing this?
It depends on the time of year. If it’s fall or winter, put down newspaper 7-8 sheets thick where you want the beds and mulch over the top. By spring, your beds will be ready to plant! If you want to plant immediately, kill off the existing vegetation with Burn Out (for sale on our website), then do the newspaper and mulch. Wait at least a week after applying the Burn Out before you plant.
When should I prune my trees and shrubs?
When to prune varies from plant to plant, but here are some general guidelines. Spring flowering plants, such as dogwood, lilac and forsythia, should be pruned after they finish blooming because they form their flower buds in the previous fall. Pruning them later will remove next year’s flowers. Summer flowering plants, like roses or spirea, are usually pruned while they are dormant during the winter. If a plant isn’t grown for its flowers, the general rule is to prune during the winter season when the plant is dormant. Avoid pruning in late summer or fall as this can force the plant to produce new growth which may not harden off in time for winter and could cause cold injury.