| By Julianna Merotto
Water, sunlight, and soil – these are a plant’s three basic needs. With the basics, one can begin a garden full of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and more. But, in an effort to lead a more sustainable life, many are looking for ways to advance their garden. After all, if an individual replaces just 20% of store-bought produce with home-grown varieties, their carbon footprint can decrease by 68 pounds of carbon per year! (1). However, growing a garden stronger and more abundant can be a confusing journey with many options. Fleet Farming and Revival Gardening are here to help. From educational resources to determine what your garden needs to products and applications that help your garden provide season after season – we are here to help.
“Got worms?”Revival Gardening
Revival Gardening is an Orlando based company specializing in worm castings, other soil amendments, and premium soil blends. (2) All of these tools are made with 100% natural materials to help your garden thrive on just what the Earth intended. (3) The driving force behind their brand? Worms. This method of fertilizing, also known as vermicomposting, is run through a cycle of feeding worms nutrient-rich natural material which will then be deposited into the soil as useful waste. (3) The benefits of using vermicompost are extensive. One is the extended-release of nutrition into the soil, making the application of fertilizer less frequent for the gardener. The second is the nutrients produced by vermicomposting are more easily accessed by plants due to its water-soluble nature. (4)
Revival Gardening begins the cycle of their vermicompost by feeding their worms a blend of alfalfa and corn seed. The alfalfa and corn are transformed into calcium carbonates and good fungi that allow plants to thrive at their full potential. (3) And, while vermicomposting is extremely effective on its own, Revival Gardening takes it one step further. Their worm castings are mixed into their premium soil blend which consists of local horse manure and Florida peat soil. (3) The goal is to ensure that not just your plants, but your soil is living and healthy.
Just like a human’s body, plants sometimes need some medicine and extra care. This comes in the form of additional soil amendments. A soil amendment is a natural material that is worked into the ground to improve physical characteristics from drainage to aeration. (5) Soil amendments also benefit the plants as well. Revival Gardening found that when amendments were added to their premium soil blends, plants were more likely to grow 5-6 inches taller within 10 days. (3) Chemical pesticides, an unfortunate staple in many gardens, are also not needed when soil amendments are used. This is because certain additions of natural material enable the plant to use its defense systems to repel pests and disease. (3)
The benefits and uses of soil amendments are wide and varied. To simplify, below is a table of those that Revival Gardening specializes in, with supplemental information from Fleet Farming.
|Soil Amendment||Benefits||When to Apply|
|Kelp||Along with adding nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, kelp adds growth hormones to the soil as well as other micronutrients.||Before the dry season to repel pests and reduce stress on younger plants.|
|Karanja Meal||Known for its expansive medicinal properties and helps plants fight off nematodes and root rot. Use also increases soil fertility.||Anytime to avoid pests and build up lasting immunity in your plants. Especially effective for crop-producing plants.|
|Neem Meal||Rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, neem meal provides nutrients to plants that allow them to naturally repel pests like nematodes. They also make the soil more alkaline.||Add to your soil right before the intended growing season.|
|Malted Grain||Provides ais in the breakdown of vitamins in the soil. Composed of multiple enzymes and proteins.||Can be added into compost to help accelerate breakdown or directly into the soil to make nutrients more available.|
|Humic Acid||Mainly increases chelators in the soil which allows for a faster activation of the soil amending process.||Blend with other soil amendments to make their nutrients more readily available and accessible for the plants.|
|Alfalfa||Known as the ‘poor man’s fertilizer’. Helps plants create turpentine which is a natural defense against pests and disease.||Add to the soil to prevent or stop pest problems.|
|Granite Dust||Useful when combined with other amendments. Provides secondary nutrients as well as a boost of potassium.||Before the growing season to increase crop yield.|
|Aloe Vera||Provide vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants to both soil and plants.||When your plants need an extra boost of vitamins such as B1, B2, and folic acid.|
|Aretha Nut||Made of thick-shelled soap nuts, this amendment aids in fighting off pests and disease.||Add to the soil to prevent or stop pest problems.|
**The list of soil amendments continues beyond those provided exclusively by Revival Gardening. To learn about other ways to feed a garden naturally, visit https://fleetfarming.org/soil-amending/. **
While soil amendments are there for a gardener to further improve the health of their plants, how is one to know exactly what they need? A plant might not be able to speak to us in words, but they are still able to communicate deficiencies. Plants may show stunted growth and abnormal leaf color when they lack certain macro and micro nutrients. (7)
The three major soil nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, all have their own unique signs of deficiency. When nitrogen is deficient in the soil, plant leaves will change from a deep green to a light green with a general yellow tone all over. With a phosphorous deficiency, leaves will have both a burnt appearance and have older leaves becoming a purple tone. Finally, when potassium is lacking, older leaves will begin to wilt easily and become scorched. (8)
If you are seeking the exact macro and micro elements needed for your garden, gardeners can undergo a soil test like this one to learn the specific needs of one’s garden soil. These can be a helpful tool that provides an exact diagnosis. Also, check out your local county extension office for their soil testing options.
Once you determine the elements missing from your soil, either from physical indicators or through soil testing, soil amendments can be added to provide natural soil enhancement without the harmful effects of synthetic fertilizers. It’s good to keep in mind that natural soil amendments are always better for the environment than synthetic fertilizers that are extracted from the earth in unsustainable ways.
Why Revival Gardening?
With water, sunlight, and soil, anyone can start a garden. But, growing a garden goes far beyond the basics. Living plants and living soil creates a symbiotic relationship between the two. There is a constant cycle, plants feeding the soil and soil feeding the plants.
Revival Gardening knows this well. That is why all of their worm castings, premium soil blends, and soil amendments are organic. Not only do these 100% organic products help your plants, but they positively influence your surrounding ecology as well. Without the presence of harsh chemicals, the run-off water from your garden will no longer taint a larger water supply. The care one puts into their garden will also last season through season, without the need for frequent replenishment. Your plants and soil will truly be thriving, just as nature intended.