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THE GARDEN ORACLE RELAXES AMIDST SPRINGTIME BLOSSOMS AND GREENS IN HIS ORGANIC VEGETABLE, HERB, FRUIT AND CUTTING FLOWER GARDEN

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flowers: Ask The Oracle

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Recently a reader asked this on The Garden Oracle facebook page:


QUESTION:  Any useful ornamental flowers that bunnies (and deer) don't find tasty? I've replanted my front yard 3 times! They've eaten all my Yarrow, Chamomile & Cone Flowers!


A Wary Rabbit Dines on Fresh Flowers in the Garden.  Read On to Find Out Which Types of Plants and Flowers are Most Resistant to Herbivore Pests Such as Deer and Rabbits in this Garden Oracle Blog Post!
A WARY RABBIT DINES ON FRESH FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN

ANSWER:  That is a tough one! We have deer and rabbits both and they can be quite a challenge!  Unfortunately they don't always follow the rules according to what they are supposed to not eat.  The ideal situation is to have a fenced yard or garden or beds with screening to keep pests at bay, but if barricades aren't an option or aren't working you definitely have to get creative with your plantings - especially since some of the plants your visitors are encroaching on are already often listed as deer/rabbit resistant!

You might try using plants with pungent scented foliage; especially the more potent flowering perennial culinary herbs such as: Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Sage, Winter Savory, certain things in the Mint family such as Oregano and Lemon Balm (both self-sow prolifically so make sure to deadhead), and Elephant Garlic or Garlic Chives. Most of these are left alone by deer and rabbits and are also quite hardy and low maintenance.

Plants and Flowers with Pungent, Aromatic and/or Silver-Leaved or Fuzzy Foliage (Such as This Example of Artemesia 'Valerie Finnis') are Often Quite Resistant to Herbivore Pests Such as Deer and Rabbits, with the added Benefit that Many of These Types of Plants are Also Often Low Water Useage, Hardy, Drought Tolerant and Relatively Free of Insect Pests and Diseases.
SILVER FOLIAGE LIKE ARTEMESIA "VALERIE FINNIS" DETERS NIBBLES
Good choices for non-culinary plants with pungent scented foliage are things like: Salvias, Agastache, Catmint (Nepeta), Hyssop, Catnip, Calamint, Creeping Thyme, Russian Sage (Perovskia), Bee Balm (Monarda), Sagebrush, scented-leaf Geraniums (true Geraniums, not Pelargoniums), Creeping Thyme, Daisies of all types, Chrysanthemums of all types, Feverfew, and many of the silvery and fuzzy leaved plants such as Artemesias, Dusty Miller, Lamb's Ears, Dianthus (Carnations and Pinks), Lemon Verbena, Lantana (check varieties for hardiness), Verbascum, California Poppies, etc.

Another great option is ornamental onions, or Alliums.  These are wonderful additions to any flower garden and are usually sold as bulbs to be planted in fall or spring, although sometimes are sold as live plants or seeds.  There are many colors, flower sizes, shapes, heights and and a range of bloom times to choose from.  Some of the more garden-worthy varieties are: Globemaster, Drumstick, Purple Sensation, Caerulium, Cristophii, Moly, Aflatunense, Mount Everest, Giganteum, Karataviense, Schubertii and Nigrum.


Ornamental Onions, Known by Their Botanical Name of Alliums, are a Great Choice for Pest Resistance of All Kinds Including Deer and Rabbits Because Their Foliage and Flowers Posesses Some of the Potent Sulfur Compounds that Make Regular Onoins and Garlic So Sharp Tasting and Odoriferous - Yet They Come in an Amazing Variety of Colors, Shapes, Heights, Flower Sizes and Bloom Times!
GLOBEMASTER ALLIUM WITH LAMB'S EARS, WALLFLOWERS AND HEUCHERA MAKES A NICE VIGNETTE
The most sure choice is poisonous and/or stickery plants, which may not be right for everyone but there are a fair number of time-tested options for the perennial garden.  Certain poisonous flowers that are common choices are things like: Daffodils, Lily of the Valley, Liriope (Lily Turf), Digitalis (Foxglove), Digiplexis, Monkshood, Penstemon, Morning Glory, Aconite, Wolfsbane, Columbine (Aquilegia), Arum Lily, Colchicum (Autumn Crocus or False Crocus), Cleome (also has spines), Larkspur, Daphne, Angel's Trumpets (not hardy), Bleeding Heart, Hellebore, Euphorbia (Spurge), Hyacinth, Kalanchoe (not hardy), Kalmia (Mountain Laurel), Castor Bean (very poisonous but very attractive foliage) and Calla Lilies.

For stickery plants there are a number of flowering plants in the Thistle family which can be quite striking additions to the perennial border such as Globe Thistle (Echinops) in a few colors and varieties including blue and white; as well as large scale thistle relatives including Teasle and Cardoon which are great for adding height, architectural drama and texture to the flower garden.  Red Hot Pokers are also very effective in a similar manner and are usually left alone by nibbling visitors.


Columbines (Botanical Name Aquilegia) are Good Examples of Wildflowers which have Certain Toxins or Mild Poisons in Their Foliage and Flowers which Make Them Quite Pest Resistant.  The Most Common Colors are Blues, Pinks, and Mauves Which Sometimes Have Bicolors with White or Yellow in Them, but There Are Also Some Stunning Hybrids or Cultivated Versions in Doubles, Bicolors and Shades of Light Yellow, Golden Yellow, Orange, Red, Blue, Purple, White and even Green!  They All Self Sow Quite Prolifically!
COLUMBINES (AQUILEGIA) HAVE MILD TOXINS & USUALLY AVOID ANIMAL BROWSING
Another choice is to go UP!  Deer (and especially rabbits) can only reach so high, making most mature vines and trees fairly immune to their advances.  Of course they may need to be caged when young, and lower growth may still get nibbled and the occaisonal branch ripped down if not protected, but they are generally a good bet and there are many beautiful flowering trees and vines which make wonderful additions to the landscape.  Often times evergreen trees, shrubs and vines are also quite resilient to browsing herbivores with the added benefit that they provide year-round greenery and interest and make a nice backdrop, visual block and/or anchor point.

Also, many wildflowers and native plants are good choices because they have developed defenses to resist browsing animals that are often bred out of more cultivated or modern varieties as a side-effect of the hybridization process, so try including wildlowers in your plantings or scattering native species wildflower seeds in drifts.  As with most of the plants listed here these are not necessarily foolproof; animals under environmental stress will still find ways of adapting to these defenses and nibble or browse certain "resistant" plants.  Animals act differently in different regions and situations and develop immunities to different plant toxins in localized populations that may change their browsing habits.  Remember that "Pest Resistant" does not necessarily mean pest-free, so the best advice is to experiment with these options and see what works for you! 


Cardoons are Giant Members of the Thistle Family which can be Very Dramatic and Architectural Specimens when Added to Flower Beds, Mixed Borders or General Landscaping and are Naturally Quite Pest Resistant as they have Spiny, Rough,  Fiberous Foliage with an Acrid Taste.  The Flowers are Often Quite Stunning with Lavender, Pinkish or Purple Feathery Hairs That Prodrude in Large Tufts from the Spiny Bracts Below and Smell Similar to Fragrant Chinese Jasmine Tea!
FLOWERING CARDOONS ARE BOLD, PEST RESISTANT ADDITIONS


You can find many of these plants, seeds and bulbs through my suppliers HERE,
and you can browse many flower seeds and plants directly on The Garden Oracle site HERE.


Here are Links Directly to Supplier Pages of Deer & Rabbit Resistant Plants & Flowers:

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Herbs at Burpee
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials at Burpee

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials at Direct Gardening
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flower Bulbs at Direct Gardening
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flowering Shrubs at Direct Gardening
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flowering Vines at Direct Gardening
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Container Plants at Direct Gardening
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Herbs at Direct Gardening

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Annuals at Home Depot Online Garden Center
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials at Home Depot Online Garden Center
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Deciduous Shrubs at Home Depot Online Garden Center
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Evergreen Shrubs at Home Depot Online Garden Center

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flowers at Botanical Interests Seeds

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials at Monticello Shop
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Shrubs at Monticello Shop

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Ground Covers at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Flowering Shrubs at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Evergreen Shrubs at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Shrubs (All) at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Trees (All) at Nature Hills Nursery
Deer & Rabbit Resistant Vines at Nature Hills Nursery

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Calla Lillies at Pacific Callas


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Please help support The Garden Oracle through your purchases via the ads and links on this site each time you do your garden/home shopping (our income comes solely from affiliate commissions on product sales - we are not paid per click or per ad, only when you make a purchase after clicking through to a merchant's site using an ad or link here on The Garden Oracle); it costs you nothing extra but could easily save you money through the specials listed on this site. Suppliers, deals and specials are indexed on pages listed near the top right of the site and in ads along the right sidebar, searchable Oracle Store located at bottom of site, and individual products indexed on pages tabbed at the top.

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Composting Basics

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The secret to making a successful compost pile is to place your materials in alternating layers of green and brown (fresh vs dead vegetation) and sprinkle some old compost and/or a little garden soil in every couple of layers.   Brown layers can consist of dead vegetation from spring or fall cleanup, fall leaves, finely chopped or chipped or shredded tree and shrub branches, sawdust, wood ash, straw, shredded bark, shredded or torn up cardboard or brown paper or newspaper, hair or coir or jute twine and other natural fibers (cut or chopped up), etc and can be up to several inches thick.  Green layers should be a little less thick especially if it is grass clippings, although they can  also consist of any green leafy vegetation from your garden or flower beds, fresh chopped or shredded green leafy tree and shrub trimmings, shredded or chopped conifer boughs, fresh seaweed or algae from pond or beach cleanup, discarded potted plants or starts or older crops and annuals which have been pulled, and vegetative kitchen scraps.

New Compost Pile Just Started in The Oracle's Garden, First Layer of Brown Material From Spring Cleanup such as Dried Leaves, Clippings from Flower Borders and Beds, and Chopped Up Small Branches or Twigs along with General Yard Debris.
New Compost Pile Just Started, First Layer of Brown From Spring Cleanup

Make sure your materials are chopped up somewhat so that you don't just end up with a brush heap, especially if they are stemmy or twiggy.   If you live in a hot dry climate or have long dry summers you may need to sprinkle your compost pile with water occasionally to keep some moisture in it or you could end up with a fire hazard and not much composting action.   Conversely if you live in a wet climate you may want to build a cover over it for the wettest months so that it doesn't get too soggy (although then you may still need to spray it down with water periodically).

If you are going to include kitchen scraps make sure it's only fruit and/or vegetable matter, nut shells, eggshells, brown paper towels, coffee grounds and filters, and tea leaves or biodegradable tea-bags. Try to put these things scattered in very thin layers or even mixed in with the other materials as they tend to rot and smell if just put in large clumps.  Never put meat/poultry or meat by-products, grease or butter, dairy or oils in your compost.  Also don't include cooked food even if it's vegetables unless you are sure there is absolutely no grease or oils or flavorings on/in it.


1 Year Old Compost Pile With Multiple Layers, Almost Full. Note the Mixture of Various Types of Plant Materials.  The Pop-up Bins in the Foreground are Extremely Useful, as is the Compost Mill in the Left Lower Corner of This Picture - These Items can be Purchased Through the Garden Suppliers listed on The Garden Oracle Site.
1 Year Old Compost Pile With Multiple Layers, Almost Full.

Compost piles need to be at least 3 feet in all directions to be effective, and bigger is better.  Most people like to have their piles in some sort of enclosure, these are usually made from wire grid or wooden slats or pallets and can range in size depending on the need and space available.  Some systems have a few chambers side by side for multiple piles in various stages of decomposition.  Turning the compost regularly (every 6 weeks or so) with a pitchfork is helpful for aeration and faster hotter composting, but it can be labor intensive -- so if you have teenagers with lots of energy this is a great chore for them!  The idea is to put the bottom on top and the top on the bottom, the outside in and the inside out, and sort of mix it all together.  If you have a compost tumbler this will be alot easier and you don't have to worry about the layering, but you still need to have a good mix of green and brown and add a little old compost or soil to the mix.

2 Year Old Compost Pile Ready For Processing & Screening.  Noticed How it has Settled Down By Almost TWO FEET in Comparison with the Previous Photo and Darkened Up Considerably.  That's a Good Indication of Aerobic Microbial Action Breaking Down the Plant Materials (and So Is the Heat it Puts Off).  These Processes Concentrate the Nutrients and Make Them More Available to the Plants In Your Garden.
2 Year Old Compost Pile Ready For Processing & Screening

If you have alot of material and space and you're not in a hurry you can make larger piles and just let them break down naturally for a couple years. This is the way I do it, and I will never turn another compost pile if I can help it (laughs).  I have a 16 foot by 8 foot space with a pallet wall built around it lined with plywood.  I do one compost pile on each end of that with a space in between for access, so each pile is almost 8 foot square, and up to 6 feet high when finished (although after a while that settles to 4 or 5 feet high).  I do one at a time, after a year or two of piling stuff in the first pile I switch to the other the following spring. By the time the second pile is partway finished the first is about two years old, and ready for harvesting.  I sort through it as I need it and deposit the rougher stuff back into the new pile in layers with the new material. By the time I'm finished sorting through the old pile the newest one is full and the cycle begins again, starting a new pile where the old one was.

Finished and Screened Compost From Bottom Of Last Pile, Black Gold!  In This Shot I've Taken the Oldest and Most Decomposed Compost and Screened it off Through my Compost Mill, Then Put it in Galvanized Storage Bins (Trash Cans) for Later Use in the Garden Beds or in Making Custom Mixed Potting Soil.
Finished and Screened Compost From Bottom Of Last Pile, Black Gold!

I also have a running pile out further on the property for things I don't want to put in the fine compost or if I run out of room.  This pile is quite large and will someday yield plenty of nice compost for a future project but it will undoubtedly have lots of weed seeds in it so any applications will have to be followed with a layer of mulch.  Additionally out in the same area there is a large burn pile area for burning debris that is not acceptable or desireable in even a rough compost, such as highly invasive weeds and their roots, large branches or logs, thorny or stickery materials like rose clippings and bramble or thistle, diseased plants or  trimmings, and fruit tree debris which often passes disease.  After these materials are burned however, the ashes are good to add in moderate amounts to compost or garden soil to increase potash (potassium).

Aged Fine Grade Compost Ready For Use in the Garden or Containers, Note The Light Crumbly Texture!  This Compost has Aged Even Further than that in the Previous Photo, and Would be Great for use as Seedling Mix in the Greenhouse as it is Quite Fine, Although it Could be Re-Screened Through a Finer Grade Soil Seive if Desired.
Aged Fine Grade Compost Ready For Garden, Note The Light Crumbly Texture!

A compost screen made from a wooden frame with 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch grid mesh or a rotary compost mill is nice to have to sift your finished compost for a finer quality product when it's done composting.   Sift into/over a wheelbarrow and toss the larger chunks and bits back into the newer compost as you go, then you can just fill up your wheelbarrow with good compost and wheel it to where you need it.   I like to process a few wheelbarrows full of fine compost and save it in large covered trashcans or similar containers for easy use as needed.  It also makes great seedling or potting mix when combined half and half with store-bought potting soil.

Remember not to put seed heads or weeds with roots or seeds in your compost, no meat or grease or dairy, and no thorny trimmings or diseased plant material either.  Follow these guidelines and you're sure to be composting like a pro in no time!





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Please help support The Garden Oracle through your purchases via the ads and links on this site each time you do your garden/home shopping (our income comes solely from affiliate commissions on product sales - we are not paid per click or per ad, only when you make a purchase after clicking through to a merchant's site using an ad or link here on The Garden Oracle); it costs you nothing extra but could easily save you money through the specials listed on this site. Suppliers, deals and specials are indexed on pages listed near the top right of the site and in ads along the right sidebar, searchable Oracle Store located at bottom of site, and individual products indexed on pages tabbed at the top.

Thankyou for your support!


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THE GARDEN ORACLE RELAXES AMIDST SPRINGTIME BLOSSOMS AND GREENS IN HIS ORGANIC VEGETABLE, HERB, FRUIT AND CUTTING FLOWER GARDEN

Time to Sow and Grow.

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Late winter through mid-spring is the ideal time for most of you to start your own seeds indoors for vegetables and flowers; the more-hardy of which also may be started outdoors in mild climates or in cold-frames, hoop-houses or under a cloche.  Hot climate folks may want to adjust this to get things in earlier, and cold climates for later.  Don't forget to read the seed packets and follow the suggested seed-sowing depths, spacing and rates along with any special care instructions and soil temperature considerations for proper germination (seedling heat-mats, propagators, germination stations, greenhouses and warm spots like sunny windowsills or tops of water-heaters are very helpful).  Clamp-on shop lights with Daylight Spectrum CFL or LED bulbs are great for adding extra light above seedlings without breaking the bank, or you can go the pro route with grow lamps & racks.  In general it's best to use a good quality fine grade potting soil, compost or seedling mix and new or sterilized pots, cell-packs, flats, domes, heat-mats and watering trays (you can sterilize your used pots and equipment before use by spraying everything down with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach per 1 gallon of water).

For sowing, you can pre-fill all the cells or pots in each seed tray most of the way, then scatter in or place a few seeds in each cell/pot and follow with a thin sprinkle or layer of soil to the appropiate depth and tamp down lightly.  For larger seeds or very specific placement you can fill the pots all the way, poke holes to the correct depth with the back of a pencil or garden marker, drop your seeds in the holes followed by a pinch of soil over each hole and then tamp.  After your seeds are sown, gently water with a fine shower from above or better yet bottom-water by setting your flats or pots in a watering tray with water up to 2" deep and leave them there until evenly moist, repeat every few days or as needed to keep soil from drying out (unless you're using self watering seed-trays, in which case keep the reservior full).  Also, make sure to label your starts with tags that include the variety and date sown -- plastic, wooden and metal plant labels and waterproof garden markers are available through most seed houses and the garden suppliers on this site.



Corn, Tomatoes, Eggplant & Other Seedlings Thrive Inside The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse in Early Spring.  Note the Grow Lights, Watering Tray, Heat Mats & Plant Identification Tags - These are All Very Useful in in Giving Your Plants a Head Start and Making Your Task of Seed Starting Easier, More Successful and More Organized.  Seedstarting Supplies, Potting Soil, Greenhouses, Seeds and More are Available Through The Gardening Suppliers Listed Here on The Garden Oracle and Through the Tabs at the Top of the Site.
Inside The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse in Early Spring

Things to start first are hardy or half-hardy greens and veggies that can take the cold wet weather of early spring such as kale, collards, broccoli, broccolini, sprouting broccoli, raab, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, bok/pak choi, Chinese cabbage, mustards, mizuna, Chinese broccoli, other Asian greens, onions, leeks, scallions, endive, chicory, escarole, radicchio, catalogne, dandelion, frisee, cress, peas (snow, snap, and shelling -- both bush and climbing types), favas, spinach, New-Zealand spinach, chard, spinach-beet, beet-leaf and root beets, mache (corn-salad), purselane, orach, arugula, lettuces, mesclun mixes and most other leafy greens and salad greens.  These will be the first to be planted out when conditions are tolerable and in milder areas you may be able to simply direct sow many of them with or without a cloche or other protection (although most cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages are best done as starts and transplanted deeper).  I like to use flats of cell-packs for most of these as you can do several starts of each kind per cell-pack and that gives you several kinds of crops per flat so it saves space if you only need a little of each type.  You can also bulk-sow things like lettuce, salad greens and spinach in larger containers like window boxes for early cuttings.  Beets, chard, onions, leeks and scallions can be bulk-sown in 6" pots and divided up at planting time.  Peas can also be bulk-sown in a few 3" pots and hand-divided into several small clumps planted under a trellis as well as direct-sown after last hard freeze.

This is also a good time to start hardy herbs such as shallots, chives, mint, lemon-balm, oregano, thyme, sage, lavender, winter savory, sorrel, curly & flat leaf parsley, par-cel, cilantro (coriander), cutting celery, celeriac and celery (rosemary and tarragon are usually only sold as plants).  I like to bulk-sow most of these in 3" or 6" pots and divide them up later (fill containers most of the way, scatter seeds about 1/4 inch apart and then cover and tamp).  Also, if you didn't plant your garlic bulbs outdoors in the fall, do so as soon and as early as you possibly can (as soon as the ground is workable), shallot and onion sets should be planted soon after.



Tomato Seedlings Started in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Tomato Plants in This Photo are About Five Weeks Old from the Date of Sowing, and Have Been Potted Up into Individual Three Inch Pots.  They Were Originally Sown with Four Clusters of Three Seeds Each in The Same Size Pots.  Soon They Will be Ready for Planting Out with The Plants Set a Bit Deeper in the Ground than in The Pots to Encourage a Larger Root System.  Make Sure to Check Out the Large Assortment of Tomato Seeds Available Through the Vegetable Seeds Tab at the Top of this Site.
Tomato Seedlings
Kale Seedlings Started in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Kale Plants in This Photo are About Four Weeks Old from the Date of Sowing and Are Ready for Planting Out in The Garden.  Kale is a Member of the Brassica Family and as Such is a Very Hardy Plant as far as Vegetables Go, but Depending on Temperatures and Weather Conditions a Cloche or Cold Frame may be Helpful to Provide Optimum Growing Conditions and Give Them A Happy Head Start on the Gardening Season - These Items are Available Through The Gardening Suppliers Listed Here on The Garden Oracle Site.
Kale Seedlings
Mizuna Seedlings Started in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Mizuna Plants in This Photo are About Four Weeks Old from the Date of Sowing and Are Ready for Planting Out in The Garden.  Mizuna is a Type of Asian Mustard Green in the Brassica Family and is Wonderful Clipped Young for Salads or Mature Greens as a Garnish, Tossed into Stir Frys and other Asian Dishes or Sauteed with Garlic and Oil as a Delicious Side Dish. Depending on Temperatures and Weather Conditions a Cloche or Cold Frame may be Helpful to Provide Optimum Growing Conditions and Give Them A Happy Head Start on the Gardening Season - These Items are Available Through The Gardening Suppliers Listed Here on The Garden Oracle Site.
Mizuna Seedlings

The next round to be started indoors should be half-hardy or tender flowers and herbs to be planted out when the weather settles and warms to the appropriate temperature.  These include all types of basil, dill, chervil, marjoram, Greek oregano, summer savory, fennel, culantro, lemongrass, Mexican tarragon, stevia, perilla, hops, strawberries, asparagus, burdock, rhubarb, artichokes, cardoon, borage, violas, sweet peas, marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, dahlias, chrysanthemums, calendula, coleus, rudbeckia, agastache, salvias (flowering sages), scabiosa, Chinese lanterns, gaillardia, lobelia, salpiglossis, monarda (bee-balm), dianthus, pinks and carnations, snapdragons, lupines, penstemon, wallflowers, thurnbergia, nicotiana, phlox, portulaca, asters, cannas, begonias, etc.  You can use small pots or cell-packs or even whole flats of mini-cells for most of these but the artichokes, cardoons, asparagus, dahlias, cannas, and begonias are best done in 3" pots becasue they have large fleshy or tubrous roots.  More hardy flowers including many common annuals, perennials and wildflowers often need cold to break seed dormancy and can be direct sown outdoors in late-winter/early-spring or the seed trays/pots set outside or in a cold-frame or even refrigerated for a week or two for cold-stratification; check your seed packet/supplier for more info on each variety.

Next are long-season tender veggies such as tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, currant tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, ground-cherries, bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet peppers, chilies, paprika, and okra that take a long time to mature to good-sized starts, these should be started about 1&1/2 to 2 months before your expected transplant date and up-potted to larger containers once or twice in that period and set slightly deeper each time to encourage healthy stout growth and roots.   Summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, melons, luffa and gourds grow relatively fast and are sensitive to being root-bound so should only be started about 3 to 4 weeks before transplant in warm weather.  I like to sow all of these crops in 3" pots with four groupings of seeds, one in each quadrant of the pot (2 to 3 seeds per group for tomatoes and peppers and thin/divide up later to get 4 plants out of each pot, the squash and cucumbers I plant 1 to 3 seeds per quadrant depending on size and after germination thin if necessary but plant the whole group out together in a hill or clump when ready).



Squash Seedlings Sprouting in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Squash Plants in This Photo are About One Week Old from the Date of Sowing, and Have Been Sown with Four Seeds in Each Three Inch Pot (one in Each Quadrant) to Conserve Space on the Heat Mat.  After a Few Weeks They Will be Able to be Planted Out in Hills as a Cluster (Recommended), or They can be Carefully Divided Up in Another Week or Two into Individual Pots and Grown on For Planting out Separately. Use Caution as Plants in the Cucurbit Family (Zuchinni, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Cucumbers, Pumpkins and Gourds) are a bit Sensitive to Root Damage and can Also get Root Bound Quickly in Small Pots.  Set Plants a Bit Deeper in the Ground than in The Pots to Encourage a Larger Root System when Planting Out.  Make Sure to Check Out the Large Assortment of Squash Seeds Available Through the Vegetable Seeds Tab at the Top of this Site.
Squash Seedlings
Corn Seedlings in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Corn Plants in This Photo are About Three Weeks Old from the Date of Sowing and are Almost Ready for Planting Out in The Garden.  This Corn Has Been Sown in a Full Flat of 98 Mini-Cells with One or Two Seeds Per Cell, Which is Enough Corn for About a 4X10 Foot Garden Planting Bed with the Plants Spaced 8 Inches Apart and a 4 Inch Border, Or a 4X16 Foot Bed if You Space The Plants One Foot Apart with a 6 Inch Border.  Make Sure to Check Out the Large Assortment of Corn Seeds Available Through the Vegetable Seeds Tab at the Top of this Site; Including Early and Late Varieties, Sweet Corn, Super Sweet, Triple Sweet and Specialty Types.
Corn Seedlings
Pepper Seedlings Started in The Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.  The Pepper Plants in This Photo are About Four Weeks Old from the Date of Sowing, and are Ready to be Thinned, Divided and Potted Up into Individual Three Inch Pots with The Plants Set a Bit Deeper in the New Pots.  They Were Sown with Four Clusters of Three Seeds Each in Three Inch Pots.  After Growing on for a Few More Weeks they Will be Ready for Planting Out with The Plants Set a Bit Deeper in the Ground than in The Pots to Encourage a Larger Root System, or They can be Up-Potted into Large Pots at that Point for Greenhouse Culture.  Make Sure to Check Out the Large Assortment of Both Hot and Sweet Pepper Seeds Available Through the Vegetable Seeds Tab at the Top of this Site.
Pepper Seedlings

Beans (bush, pole, soy, lima, drying, runner and yard-long) and corn (sweet, super-sweet, double-sweet, triple-sweet, miniature, popping, decorative and feed-corn) along with most other other legumes & grains are usually sown in place when the soil warms above 50 degrees reliably although can easily be started indoors a month or so earlier to get a jump on the season. I like to start a dozen bean seeds per 3" pot to be planted out later one pot by each pole on a large teepee, tunnel or pergola or several pots worth under a trellis or along a fence (or in a cage for bush beans); corn I like to do in full flats of 98 mini-cells with one or two seeds per cell (two of these is enough corn for my 4'x16' bed spaced 8" apart with a few extras).

Tuberous crops like potatoes and oka can be started indoors if grown in large containers that can be moved outside later, but in-ground spuds are best planted directly in the garden from seed-potatoes after last frost when the soil is workable -- the same goes for perennial rhizome/root crops such as horseradish, wasabi, ginger, etc.

Most root veggies such as carrots, radishes, daikon, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, etc are best direct-sown in place in early spring and thinned to the appropriate spacing after germination (beets and onions can be direct sown and/or started early indoors in bulk, then divided up and planted out in correct spacing when large enough to handle).  Many of the afore-mentioned salad and cooking greens such as spinach, lettuce, kale, raab, mustards, Asian greens, arugula, etc along with peas and favas can be done the same way in addition to starting some indoors -- sow a row or two outdoors when putting out your starts you did a month earlier, this way you get a staged harvest.

To improve outdoor growing conditions for direct sowings and transplants early in the season you may want to set up a cloche or small hoop-house over your crops using wire or PVC hoops or other supports and garden fabric or plastic sheeting -- for more info on this see my post entitled "Growing Radishes Under a Cloche"





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THE GARDEN ORACLE RELAXES AMIDST SPRINGTIME BLOSSOMS AND GREENS IN HIS ORGANIC VEGETABLE, HERB, FRUIT AND CUTTING FLOWER GARDEN

Video: Eliot Coleman on Organic Farming

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A Legendary Master Speaks on Organic Gardening:


Crops grow Inside and Out of the Garden Oralce's Greenhouse in Spring. Learn how to start and grow your own organic produce and harvest it all year-round!  Eliot Coleman, one of the gurus of the organic farming movement, shows you how in his New Book and DVD Set "The Winter Harvest Handbook and Year-Round Vegetable Production" availible through the links below. Check out this informative preview video with Elliot himself and order your copy today:




More great materials on organic gardening from Eliot Coleman and Chelsea Green Publishing:


Click Here to get The Winter Harvest Handbook and Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman (Book & DVD Set) from Chelsea Green Publishing and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The Winter Harvest Handbook and Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman: Book & DVD Set

Year-Round Vegetable Production DVD Set: This filmed workshop on year-round vegetable production offers farmers and gardeners the rare chance to sit in with Eliot Coleman, one of the pioneers of the organic farming movement and author of The New Organic Grower, Four-Season Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Handbook.During his careers as commercial market gardener, director of agricultural research projects, developer of tools for organic growers, and teacher and lecturer on organic gardening, Coleman has studied, practiced, and perfected his craft, and while you can bring Coleman's books with you into your garden, there's nothing like getting the advice straight from the man himself. Included in the DVDs: The history of season-extension farming in Europe Information on moveable greenhouses and using fabric covers; Growing tips in terms of nutrition and marketability; Rodent control; Curing and packing using sustainable materials; How to work with restaurants and chefs (and create a demand); Information on tools, soil health, and vegetable varieties that survive well in the cold; Additional photos, diagrams, and climate maps; And more! Experience a workshop with bestselling author and expert in season extension, based on a filmed daylong workshop and extensive interview. Complete with a slide show, images from Coleman's own farm over the years, his travels to Europe, and detailed plans for his model of season extension, this film is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit down with a master.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses: Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable-living trend that's taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower, published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.Building on his long-time expertise, The Winter Harvest Handbook, Coleman's latest book, focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses. The book includes concise details on greenhouse construction and maintenance, planting schedules, crop management, harvesting practices, and even marketing methods in this complete, meticulous, and illustrated guide. Readers have access to all the techniques that have proven to produce higher-quality crops on Coleman's own farm.A passionate advocate for the revival of small-scale sustainable farming, Coleman provides a practical model for supplying fresh, locally grown produce during the winter season, even in climates where conventional wisdom says it "just can't be done."


Click Here to get The New Organic Grower organic vegetable, herb & fruit gardening book by Eliot Coleman and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The New Organic Grower

Practical advice, good sense, and inspiration about every aspect of organic gardening including pest control and growing for market. With more than 45,000 sold since 1988, The New Organic Grower has become a modern classic. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman continues to present the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Coleman updates practical information on marketing the harvest, on small-scale equipment, and on farming and gardening for the long-term health of the soil. The new book is thoroughly updated, and includes all-new chapters such as: Farm-Generated Fertility—how to meet your soil-fertility needs from the resources of your own land, even if manure is not available. The Moveable Feast—how to construct home-garden and commercial-scale greenhouses that can be easily moved to benefit plants and avoid insect and disease build-up. The Winter Garden—how to plant, harvest, and sell hardy salad crops all winter long from unheated or minimally heated greenhouses. Pests—how to find "plant-positive" rather than "pest-negative" solutions by growing healthy, naturally resistant plants. The Information Resource—how and where to learn what you need to know to grow delicious organic vegetables, no matter where you live. Written for the serious gardener or small market farmer, The New Organic Grower proves that, in terms of both efficiency and profitability, smaller can be better.


Click Here to get The Organic Gardeners Handbook organic vegetable gardening book by Frank Tozer and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The Organic Gardeners Handbook

The Organic Gardeners Handbook tells you everything you need to know to create a highly productive vegetable garden. Combining European tradition with American creativity, it covers the art and science of organic gardening with a depth that is rarely seen in contemporary books. There are chapters on every aspect of organic vegetable gardening, soil dynamics, soil management, cultivation, composting, crop planning, raising seedlings, watering, harvesting, seed saving, greenhouses, and much more. Whether you are a complete novice and need your hand held through every step, or a veteran gardener with a permanent layer of soil under your fingernails, you will find this book both helpful and informative. A book that will soon be covered in dirty fingerprints, The Organic Gardeners Handbook is a companion to The Vegetable Growers Handbook.


Click Here to get The Alternative Kitchen Garden organic vegetable, herb & fruit gardening book by Emma Cooper and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The Alternative Kitchen Garden

The Alternative Kitchen Garden is an evolving idea of what a kitchen garden could be in the twenty-first century: organic, environmentally sustainable, resilient, and about localizing at least some of our food production. It’s also a place not only for learning and practicing growing skills but also for enjoying ourselves and having fun. The Alternative Kitchen Garden is the ideal companion for anyone getting dirt under their fingernails for the first time and full of fascinating ideas and experiments for the adventurous gardener. A self-confessed “cyber geek,” Emma documents the transformation of her “ropey old lawn with potholes and brambles” into a fertile and abundant permaculture plot via Internet radio and a popular blog site. Eight years of her postings and stories have been collected in here, illustrated with beautiful color photographs and arranged into easily accessible alphabetical order. The Alternative Kitchen Garden: An A-Z covers subjects as diverse as growing achocha (a forgotten Incan crop) to zucchinis. Emma’s style, is light and friendly, yet at the same time informative and based on personal experience—you feel you could actually be sitting in the garden chatting face to face as she shares her knowledge and experience.


Click Here to get The New Vegetable Growers Handbook vegetable gardening book by Frank Tozer and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The New Vegetable Growers Handbook

The New Vegetable Growers Handbook is an updated version of Frank Tozer's acclaimed book The Vegetable Growers Handbook. Like the original, it covers every aspect of growing all of the common crops (and a number of uncommon ones). As a long-time home gardener, the author knows exactly what information you need to succeed and presents it in a clear, thorough, and even entertaining fashion. There are step-by-step instructions on soil preparation, variety selection, raising transplants, direct sowing, watering, protection, harvesting, storage, seed saving, and much more. He doesn’t just tell you what to do and when to do it, he also tells you why, by explaining in detail how crops grow and why they sometimes don't. The original book received high marks from reader reviewers, with comments like "fantastic," "my gardening bible," and "this book provides more detailed and easy-to-read information on individual crops than any other gardening book I've seen." This new, revised edition has been expanded by 50 percent, with more information on more crops, with the aim of creating the most useful and practical book on vegetable gardening available anywhere.


Click Here to get The New Food Garden vegetable gardening book by Frank Tozer and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
The New Food Garden

This groundbreaking new book expands the concept of food gardening to embrace the whole garden. The new food garden is centered around the intensive vegetable garden, but doesn’t stop there. It puts hedges, ponds, pathways, arbors, lawns, roofs, and walls to work as additional growing space for food plants. Fruit and nut trees, bush fruit, edible vines, perennial vegetables, herbs, annual crops, aquatic plants, weeds, and edible wild plants are used to increase the quantity and variety of foods available with little extra work. The author doesn’t just look upon the garden as a place to grow food, however; it is a place to be lived in and used, so he also concentrates on making it beautiful, comfortable, and efficient. He describes practical ways in which the garden can help us to reduce our impact on the earth. Included is advice on making the garden pay for itself, or even to provide an income. The author’s ultimate aim is to change the way we approach the garden so that it feeds, heals, and nurtures us. The productive garden should be an integral part of the home, and growing food should be a part of everyday life.


Click Here to get Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition by Toby Hemenway permaculture gardening book and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchase!
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

The first edition of Gaia’s Garden sparked the imagination of America’s home gardeners, introducing permaculture’s central message: Working with Nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens. This extensively revised and expanded second edition broadens the reach and depth of the permaculture approach for urban and suburban growers. Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening (which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants) can take place only on a large, multi-acre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including: Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure; Catching and conserving water in the landscape; Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals; Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods. This revised and updated edition also features a new chapter on urban permaculture, designed especially for people in cities and suburbs who have very limited growing space. Whatever size yard or garden you have to work with, you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful. Best of all, once it’s established, an ecological garden will reduce or eliminate most of the backbreaking work that’s needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden.


Click Here to Shop a Wonderful Selection of Heirloom, Organic and Non-GMO Vegetable, Herb and Flower Seeds at Botanical Interests and Support The Garden Oracle with Your Purchases!


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Please help support The Garden Oracle through your purchases via the ads and links on this site each time you do your garden/home shopping (our income comes solely from affiliate commissions on product sales - we are not paid per click or per ad, only when you make a purchase after clicking through to a merchant's site using an ad or link here on The Garden Oracle); it costs you nothing extra but could easily save you money through the specials listed on this site. Suppliers, deals and specials are indexed on pages listed near the top right of the site and in ads along the right sidebar, searchable Oracle Store located at bottom of site, and individual products indexed on pages tabbed at the top.

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Prepping The Tomato Bed

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STEP-BY-STEP SLIDESHOW TUTORIAL:


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This is the bed I grow my indeterminate (vining) tomatoes in every year. It has a cover over it with a drop-down front (that is folded up in these photos) to keep the rain off the plants and temperatures up since I live in the Pacific Northwest (I will do future posts about building raised beds and tomato houses, etc when I get a chance). As you can see it is free of weeds (I pulled a few earlier in the season) but the soil level is down about 2 or more inches below the top of the boards -- this is due in part to settling, but also from the amount of material that was broken down and "consumed" by last year's crops in order to grow about 30 large tomato plants and loads of fruit (hundreds of luscious slicing and heirloom tomatoes from a 16X4 foot bed). Now it's time to add back what goodness Mother Nature took from the soil last year so that we can reap another great harvest.
The first step is to broadcast a high-quality organic tomato fertilizer evenly across the surface of the entire bed.  I've used about a half-cup per square yard here of a certified organic 3-3-3 fertilizer made especially for tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables (there are some great choices listed at the bottom of this post -- apply as directed on the label).  Organic fertilizers are milder and therefore more forgiving than chemical fertilizers if you accidentally apply a little more than necessary, and they also release more evenly over time as the soil microbes break them down into a form usable by the plants (some organic fertilizers even include beneficial microbes and fungi to help with this process).  Use a cultivator, steel-tined rake or hoe to work the fertilizer into the first couple inches of soil.  The type of cultivator shown here is ideal for the home garden and raised beds with decent quality soil that needs to be aerated, fluffed and lightly amended.   If your soil is poor or compacted you may want to use a digging fork, hoe or power cultivator to break it up and turn in some compost (there are links to these tools at the bottom of this post).
Next, I add a few bags of chicken and steer manure to the bed (figure about 1 cubic foot of composted manure per square yard of soil surface area).  Large breed tomatoes use ALOT of nutrients, so you want to feed them well.  This is especially true in home gardens where you are trying to get alot of produce out of a small space.  The chicken manure is high in micronutrients such as magnesium and calcium and is a good source of phosphorus and potassium (these are all important for disease resistance and healthy flower and fruit production), while the steer manure is high in nitrogen and carbon to help build large strong plants.  Use a large-tined seeding rake, cultivator or hoe to work the manure and amendments into the topsoil of the entire bed evenly, breaking up any clumps in the manure as these can burn the roots.  After the bed is fully amended with fertilizer and manure and raked out evenly there still is well over an inch of space between the top of the soil and the top of the bed.
A final layer of compost all the way to the top of the bed finishes off the prep work. Here I've used a high-end commercially bagged organic compost as a topping. You can use your own compost if you like (and I often do) but this method avoids excess weeding because commercially bagged mulches and composts are generally free of weed seeds because they are heated enough to sterilize them. I often use my compost as a soil amendment and then top off with some bagged compost or mulch on top to keep the weeding to a minimum after planting. Speaking of which, this bed is now done and ready for tomato plants!


Homegrown Organic Bush Tomatoes Ripen Nicely in Early Summer with Reflected Sun and Warmth on the South Side of the Garden Oracle's Greenhouse.



Here are some of my favorite fertilizers and tools for this project:

Gardener's Supply Co. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, 5 Lbs. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$14.95
Gardener's Best® Organic Tomato Fertilizer, 24 Oz. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$9.95
Dr. Earth 4lb 5-7-3 Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer (704P) Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$12.99
Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer, Fertilizer Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$15.40
Jobe's Fertilizers 8 lb. Organic Heirloom Tomato and Vegetable Plant Food 09028 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$9.98
Kellogg Garden Organics Fertilizers 3.5 lb. Tomato, Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer 3000 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$8.48
Easy Gardener Products 09026 Jobes Organics Vegetable And Tomato Granular Fertilizer 4 Pound Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$12.29  $10.59
Tomato Maker Fertilizer & Blossom End Rot Prevention Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$11.56
Purely Organic Products Fertilizers 2.25 lbs. Tomato and Vegetable Plant Food TVJRDK1 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$15.99
Hoffman 20505 4-2-3 Dehydrated Manure - 5 lbs. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$14.01  $10.38
Hoffman 21004 Cow Manure 1-1-1 - 4 lbs. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$24.84  $18.40
Espoma Granulated Organic Garden Manure Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$22.61  $16.75
Organic Traditions Dehydrated Granulated Garden Manure Plant Food 15 lbs. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$16.61
Juniper Farms 235435 NorthEast Gardener Composted Farmyard Manure Pack of 2 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$13.05  $9.67
Waupaca Northwoods Llc WGM03225 1 cu. ft. Chicken Manure Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$16.36  $12.12
Waupaca Northwoods Llc WGM03260 1 cu. ft. Organic Compost Blend Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$17.05  $12.63
Black Gold 1 Cu Ft Compost (1411602 1CF P) Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$8.49
Tank's Green Stuff - 100% Organic Compost - 1 cu ft Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$7.99
Espoma Organic Garden Soil For Vegetables And Flowers 1 Cubic Foot VFGS1 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$16.77  $12.90
Black Gold 1 Cf Garden Soil (1411603.CFL001P) Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$6.99
Jackson Garden Tools 66 in. Kodiak J-250 14-Tine Curved Level Rake 18861 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$44.99
Garden Weasel(r) 56in Garden Cultivator (90206) Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$29.99
Jackson Garden Tools 52 in. Kodiak J-250 Forged 4-Tine Speedy Cultivator 18005 Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$58.99
Spear & Jackson R712 Traditional Stainless Steel Digging Fork with 28 Inch Wood YD handle Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$91.27  $67.61
True Temper 70110/FKSB75 Razor Back 7 By 3 1/2 Inch Blackland Meadow Hoes Organic Tomato Fertilizer, Manure, Compost, Vegetable Soil,  Rake, Cultivator, Hoe, Garden Fork
$32.45  $27.69



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Please help support The Garden Oracle through your purchases via the ads and links on this site each time you do your garden/home shopping (our income comes solely from affiliate commissions on product sales - we are not paid per click or per ad, only when you make a purchase after clicking through to a merchant's site using an ad or link here on The Garden Oracle); it costs you nothing extra but could easily save you money through the specials listed on this site. Suppliers, deals and specials are indexed on pages listed near the top right of the site and in ads along the right sidebar, searchable Oracle Store located at bottom of site, and individual products indexed on pages tabbed at the top.

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