Farmer D’s Compost Tea Recipe

Farmer D Compost

Have you wanted the boost that a compost tea can bring to your plants but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s a simple compost tea recipe from Farmer D’s first book Citizen Farmers.

Compost feeds the soil biology in a garden. This enhances nutrients, moisture retention, disease resistance and overall plant vitality. When making compost tea, be sure to start with good quality compost and follow the National Organic Program’s safety guidelines. This recipe makes 5 gallons of tea, enough for a large home garden.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Clean, 5-gallon (20 L) bucket (preferably ceramic or stainless steel. Plastic is ok- no bleach or chemical residues
  • 4 Gallons (15 L) rainwater, spring water or tap water
  • 1 Quart  (400 G) aged, good quality compost
  • Pantyhose, cheesecloth bag or fine screen colander
  • Stinging Nettle or Burdock leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons compost tea activator (such as unsulphured organic molasses or a ready-made activator such as Growing Solutions compost tea catalyst)
  • Small fish tank aerator pump with tubing and several bubblers or air stones to pump oxygen into the bucket of water with compost and activator

Bubbling compost tea

Fill the bucket with water. If using tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours to release chlorine. Place the compost in the pantyhose, cheesecloth bad or colander. Fully immerse the compost in the water without allowing soil particle to get in the water. (you can also brew without a mesh bag and instead run the finished tea through a fine-mesh or cheesecloth strainer.) Toss in a few handfuls of fresh stinging nettles, burdock leaves or other other appropriate herbs and weeds for added benefits. Add the compost activator, turn on the aerator pump, and let brew for 24 to 48 hours. If you are not using aerator, let sit for 5 to 10 days to allow for adequate fermentation.

Once brewed, compost tea has a short shelf life, so it should be applied as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours after being brewed. When using compost tea, dilute at 10 parts water to 1 part compost tea and apply as follows:

Foliar Applications: Spray in the morning or evening on underside of leaves of plants, shrubs and trees.

Soil Drench: Water new transplants or existing plants.

Lawn: Spray or run through your irrigation system.

Grubs in the Grass

japanese beetlesRemember Japanese Beetles from earlier in the season? I bet you were glad as their numbers waned, and eventually disappeared without a trace. They are not, however, gone. Their progeny are in your turf grass and planted beds, consuming, growing, waiting even as you read this! Oh, the horror.

Ok. So what can we do about it? With the warm weather, grubs that will become beetles next year, are eating the roots of many different species of plants. They are trying to get fat and happy for their winter hibernation. Can you hear the chewing of the grubs, Clarice?
Paenibacillus popillae, aka Milky Spore, is here to break the cycle. 
When applied to lawns and beds, it is consumed by the grubs. When ingested, the bacteria proliferates, eventually killing the grub. As the grub decomposes, the new bacteria colony spreads. It is said that the bacteria can last over 20 years under the right conditions.
This is a great preventative method for treating Japanese Beetles, as well as other destructive beetles. It will not harm beneficials, bees, pets, butterflies, or anything not a herbivorous grub.

The Earth Magic Learning Garden Takes Root

School Garden InstallationThis summer, the Farmer D team had the pleasure of installing an incredible school garden at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. Primary School Principal Greg Kaiser spoke about the importance of exposing young children to nature and the inspiration behind their school garden in an interview with Katie of Farmer D Organics:

Why did you decide to implement a garden for the younger students?

Having been raised by a lifelong gardener and teacher, I learned from an early age what a wonderful learning tool a working children’s garden can be.  It has been my goal for quite a long time to build this garden for the children of Holy Innocents’, and this past summer we were able to make that dream a reality through the support of our HIES Parents’ Association as well as contributions from individual donors.

Why do you think it is an important part of their daily experience at school?

Our number one goal in the Lewis Primary School help our children to become “courageous learners.”  In other words, we want them to have the confidence and the enthusiasm to build, to explore, to create, to imagine, to predict, to design and to share.  Giving our students the opportunity to regularly participate in the planning, planting and maintenance of our garden allows them the chance to exercise all of these skills.

What influenced the garden?
My late mother, Suzanne Linstrom Kaiser, who ensured that from my earliest days I would never be afraid to get dirt on my hands.  We are naming our garden the “Earth Magic Learning Garden,” taking the name from a poem that she wrote. Above is a photo of students making an initial exploration of the garden.  The dedication will be held in early September.

For more information on Farmer D’s Consulting services, including school gardens, please contact Katie at Katie@farmerd.com 

Summer Gardening with your Kids

This month at Farmer D’s, we are excited about gardening with kids!Farmer D and Tilden with goat

Gardening with kids is not only a great educational resource, but reminds us all of how magical and full of wonder the gardening process really is. From planting and watering seeds to harvesting and eating summer garden treats, gardening starts kids on a lifelong adventure of knowing, and loving, where their food comes from.

There are many simple ways to get your kids involved in the garden. Jenny, an Atlanta-based mother of three, introduced her kids to gardening last summer by helping them plant flowers from seed in raised beds at their home. The kids were responsible for the watering and maintenance of their own garden plots. Later on in the year, they raised vegetable seedlings in egg cartons and then transplanted them.

kids radish“They’re so into it that they love picking out seeds. Its fascinating to watch them grow,” says Jenny.

If you’re looking for seed and plant varieties that are kid friendly, give radishes, cherry tomatoes, sunflowers, and peppers a try. Click here to see Farmer D’s top ten list of crops to grow with kids. You should also consider getting a good set of sturdy kid-sized garden tools. And of course, have a ton of fun!

Everything that you need to start gardening with your kids is available at the Farmer D Organics Garden Center. We look forward to seeing you!

Pea Smile

Farmer D & His Backyard Chickens

 

Screenshot 2014-03-17 17.35.07At my urban abode in Decatur, Georgia, my wife and I keep a few chickens in the backyard. We love them for many reasons: they give us yummy fresh organic eggs, eat lots of our kitchen scraps, fertilize our lawn and garden, give us fuel for our compost pile and provide entertainment for the whole family, especially our little guy, Tilden.  I use the spent bedding and manure out of their laying boxes as a prime source of carbon and nitrogen for the compost pile and move their coop around the yard to areas needing a boost of fertility.  Our chicken coop is homemade in our woodshop and has two stories with the upstairs for sleeping and laying, and the downstairs is open to the ground for scratching and pooping.

We named our first flock of hens Rosie, Hazel and Slow Poke and we feed them all organic soy-free layer feed along with kitchen scraps. We even plant them a rotating pasture in the backyard of chicken lettuce, peas and more. Our favorite thing to do with the eggs is poach them in a slow boil of water with brown rice vinegar and then plop them over a bowl of hot millet with arugula or kale dressed up with olive oil, salt and lemon. We also love to rock out veggie frittatas with broccoli, leeks, avocado, tomato and fresh herbs like basil and marjoram.

Yard to Table Broccoli-Leek Frittata

This homemade frittata is one of our favorite go-to meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is made with free-range organic eggs from the store or from our backyard hens, Rosie and Hazel.

frittataMakes 4 servings

Ingredients:

8 eggs
3/4 cup finely grated mild cheddar cheese (we prefer raw goat cheddar)
Handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 medium leeks, white and light green part only, trimmed of roots and thinly sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small tomato, sliced
8-10 whole basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk eggs and then add ½ cup cheese, basil, marjoram, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until they are tender and soft but not too brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add broccoli and sauté for a few more minutes until broccoli is bright green and slightly tender.

Transfer the broccoli and leek mixture into a medium roughly 9” cast iron sauté pan (if you want to use the same pan, let it cool before adding eggs). Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Thinly slice tomato and evenly spread them with fresh basil leaves on top of the frittata. Finally sprinkle the remaining finely grated cheese on top and place in preheated oven.

Cook for 30 minutes or until puffy and lightly golden on top. Let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

Garden Potatoes

blog potatoes For those of you “eyeing” your calendar it is definitely seed potato time, and Farmer D Organics has a wide variety of certified organic seed potatoes that are great for Georgia growers.

Potatoes are a fun and nutritious garden crop. They are high in Vitamins A, C and K, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium…you get the point.

Choose a bright, sunny spot for potatoes. They like to be drenched in sunshine, 8+ hours. Soil should be well draining and crumbly. Our planting mix is perfect. Watch the weather, as April 15th is our last frost date, and potatoes do not like to freeze. In case of hard freeze, you might want to protect your taters!

Before planting a seed potato, cut up the potato so each chunk has two sprouts. If the eyes haven’t sprouted, you can put the whole tuber in a brown bag with a banana peel for a few days. The ethylene gas will stimulate the sprouts to emerge. Cover each bit of potato, with the sprout up, with 2-3″ of soil. When the sprouts are 6″ high, mound some garden soil around the sprout. Keep new tubers covered with soil. This keeps the potatoes cool and will result in tastier tubers. Water about once a week in dry times. Mulch with straw to reduce heat and evaporation. It takes most potato plants 10 weeks before harvest.

Here are some of our favorite varieties:

Yukon Gold
A well known yellow flesh potato with yellow skin and pink eyes. Sets 5 to 7 tubers per plant  that size very quickly. Great as a fruit stand or farmers market variety.  Good eye appeal and excellent quality. Great mashed, or as french fries. A mid summer maturing variety.

Banana
The most recognized of all fingerlings. Can also be the biggest yielder as it can set up to 40 tubers per hill. A late maturing variety thats  good boiled, fried or in your favorite salad.

Caribe
A very nice pastel purple variety with creamy white flesh. Its very early and has a big yield. It can get very large if left growing all summer. A great multi purpose variety that will grow well in short season areas.

All Blue
A late summer to early fall maturing variety. A tall up right plant with beautiful purple flowers. Deep purple skin with a nice purple flesh. Great anyway cooked, especially when turned to purple french fries.

February Seed Starting Guide

Spring is almost here! Starting seeds indoors is a great way of getting a jump on the season and ensuring you get the exact varieties you want in your garden.

The Farmer D Organics Garden Center is ready to help you start your garden early. Check out our seed starting guide below and come into the store to shop our NEW 2014 heirloom and organic seed collections from High Mowing, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

Farmer D Organics’ week-by-week planting guide is specific to zone 7b (Greater Atlanta, and surrounding cities).

Click the chart below for an enlarged view.

february planting schedule with image2

Get the Details: Farmer D Holiday Sale!

Introducing Farmer D Organics Signature Products for 2014!

Handmade at our woodshop in Atlanta using socially responsible business practices and FSC Western Red Cedar, these are gifts you can truly feel good about giving!

Available online at 25% off through December 25th.

 

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                  French Bed
A rustic hand-made raised bed planter with exposed galvanized bolts and an open bottom. Your choice of natural finish, white, yellow, green, orange, red or blue zero VOC paint.  

Dimensions: 30″ x 40″ x 12″ deep or 40″ x 48″ x 12″ deep.

 

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             French Patio Planter

A rustic patio planter accented with exposed galvanized bolts.

Dimensions: 21.5″ x 21.5″ x 15″ tall and 9″ deep planting bed.

 

 

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                    Bed on Legs

Our raised beds give you control of your soil, which means higher yields with less weeding and less fertilizing. The elevated design reduces bending over—ideal for gardeners of all ages! 

Dimensions: 24″ sq. bed: 24″ high overall; bed depth 10”; 3-cu.-ft. cap. or 48″ sq. bed: 36″ high overall; bed depth 10”; 6-cu.-ft. cap.

Assembly required.

MissionUrbanPlanterLARGE                  Urban Planter

We’re expanding our line of urban planters!

This medium-sized patio planter has a practical, minimalist design.  

Dimensions: 32″ x 20″ x 16″ tall

 

FarmerD_ColdFrameLARGE                   Cold Frame

Protect new seedlings, extend your harvest, or grow year round with a ‘Farmer D Organics’ Cold Frame. This is a useful and beautiful addition to any garden!

Dimensions: 3′ x 3′ x 10″

 

FarmerD_CompostBinLARGE                      Composter

A sturdy, hand made container for your composting food scraps. It is near rodent proof and made with specific dimensions to ensure proper oxygen flow through the compost. 

Dimensions: 30″x30″x30″

Some assembly required

 

 

824_771_large              10” Raised Bed Kit

This is the answer to “easy” growing of vegetables, herbs and flowers. This easy assembly kit with notched corner designs, is stackable and connectable, so you can create the perfect size bed for your garden.

Check out our website to see the many dimensions available!

Assembly required. Boards over 6′ in length must be hinged for shipping purposes. The hinges are affixed on the inside of the beds, and are almost impossible to detect once assembled. 

FarmerD_PottingTableLarge                     Potting table

This handmade potting bench is crafted  in our woodshop in Atlanta. With three different shelving levels, this piece has style and functionality. It is perfect for the greenhouse, garden shed, home, or backyard.

Dimensions: 42″wide x 42″ tall x 24″ deep.

 

 

ToolboxLARGE

             Garden Tool Chest

Finally a place to keep all your garden tools! Heavy duty rope handles make this tool chest easy to tote. Handmade from 2″ thick FSC certified Western Red Cedar.

Dimensions: 23″ x 9″ x 11″ tall

 

trellisLARGE                       Trellis

This hinged A-Frame trellis is the perfect space maximizing addition to any garden. Ideal for beans, peas, cucumbers, and other climbing vegetables. Fits perfectly into Farmer D Organics 3′ x 3′ and 3′ x 6′ raised beds, or can stand alone in any in-ground garden bed.Dimensions: 36″ tall by 30″ wide or 30”x30”

 

 

 Don’t forget your To-Go Ware utensil sets! A great addition to any gift.

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Pre-Feast Sale!

Happy Holidays Gardeners!

All Farmer D Signature Products are 25% off  from Tuesday, Nov. 26th until Sunday, Dec. 11th. Use the code “GROW” for online purchases.  

Farmer D Signature Products

You’ve got a lot to do in preparation for the big Thanksgiving meal, right? Luckily, this is our season, the season of celebrations revolving around food! So we’d like to help you out.

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We’ve stocked up on seasonings like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic. Spice up your holiday food with something fresh that you can keep growing for years to come!Consider picking up a few of our gorgeous, ceramic herb pots as little gifts for your guests. Or use them as living centerpieces on your thanksgiving table! Set fresh rosemary, oregano, parsley and sage out in a nice ceramic pot and harvest your seasoning right from the table. Spread a few of our Mama Brand candles (handcrafted in Decatur, GA!) out to either side and you’re ready to go! Don’t forget about the lavender, to help keep the season of family get-togethers calm.

There’s one more big thing to consider. Shop locally! If you start planning now you can order a local turkey and stock up on local(ish) produce like sweet potatoes, cranberries, onions, carrots, greens and herbs to round out your feast. Stop by the shop on Briarcliff Road for our recommendations on where to get great produce in Atlanta.

Sweet_Potato_Latkes_Allrich_Kar2On top of ALL that hanukah is early this year! Yes! There’s nothing better than hybrid-food-celebrations, think sweet potato latkas with cranberry sauce. So, if you have a gardener in the family they might appreciate a little hanukah gelt from Farmer D.

All Farmer D products are 25% off and everything else in our Atlanta retail store is 15% off from Tuesday, Nov. 26th until Sunday, Dec. 11th. Use the code “GROW” for online purchases (Does not apply to already discounted or sale items). We have tons more holiday specials just around the corner- sign up for our newsletter to catch the deals!

 

Farmer D Organics Garden Centers
2154 Briarcliff Rd. Atlanta, GA 30329
Phone: (404) 325-0128
Summer Store Hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday 11:00am - 5:00pm