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Grow an Earth-Friendly Garden

No-till gardens make the best use of resources

       Plowing or rototilling your garden each year causes all sorts of problems. Turning up your garden destroys the soil structure, dries out the soil and destroys organic matter. It also contributes to the formation of a compacted subsurface layer of earth called a pan and destroys tunnels and channels that roots of new plants can follow, promoting deeper rooting and greater drought-tolerance.
       It also exposes dormant weed seeds to light, which stimulates them into germinating,
       Research has clearly demonstrated that the more you plow and till the soil, the more fertilizer you have to apply to grow a crop.
       Many of our crops can be grown with minimal disturbance of the soil. Minimal disturbance means fewer weeds. Roots from last years’ plants were left to rot in place, creating channels for new roots to grow into. By not turning the soil, you leave its structure intact, so plant roots have better conditions for growth. By not tilling the soil, you conserve moisture and avoid plow pan, which contributes to soil compaction. 
        When I’m ready to plant, in the name of efficiency, I dump a half-cup of Bloom where the plants go. I then drop a transplant near each mound. After all the plants have been spotted, I get down on my kneeling bench and plant. Using a trowel, I dig a hole in the ground through each pile of Bloom. Some of the Bloom mixes with the soil, and the rest becomes incorporated with the backfill around the root ball. After all is planted, I thoroughly irrigate the garden.
        The efficiency of applying Bloom only in spots allows me to use less overall.
       Bloom can also be used for top-dressing after the plants have been set in place and before covering with mulch. Apply at the rate of one-half to one cubic foot per 100 square feet. Irrigate thoroughly before applying the mulch.
       If you like geraniums, you will flip your lid when you grow them using Bloom. The foliage will be dark green, and the zone characteristic in the leaves will appear almost black. Red-flowering geraniums will have the most intense color you have ever seen.
       Red-foliage celosia will also develop intense red to purple color when grown using Bloom. Based on my years of research in plant nutrition, I can only conclude that nutrition and an abundance of available iron in Bloom is responsible for these responses.
Bloom and Potassium
Q I read your article on Bloom. Sounds like stuff I would like to use. Two questions: You said Bloom lacks potassium. Do I need to add something else to supply the potassium? If so, what do you recommend? Also, where can I buy Bloom? I’m in the Severna Park area.
–Bob Melamud, Severna Park
A Bloom has potassium, but the levels are low.  I solve that problem by blending in LeafGro compost. I make a potting blend of equal parts peat moss and LeafGro plus a cup or so of limestone per bushel. Then I add 20 percent Bloom to that blend. If you are using Bloom in soil with adequate potassium, that should be sufficient.
        Bloom is sold at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, and as of April 18, in Severna Park.