Greetings fellow gardener!

 

Slightly different delivery method this time around.

 

When I walk through the greenhouses and catch a glimpse of things I want to share with you I often snap more pictures than will easily transmit in reasonable time to the growing list of subscribers like you. So I’ve decided to make the newsletter a web page that can be uploaded once and then send the link to the group of subscribers considerably reducing delivery time.

 

It will also make the newsletter available to site visitors who may not be on the email list, or those who once were but have changed addresses.

 

Kind of my own take on a web blog.

 

We’ll see how it flies. J

 

Here’s a few highlights from around the range as of the week of April 20th 2015.

 

As is so often the case when writing, with so much information to share, I ask myself the question of, Where do I begin?”.

 

All successful gardens start with good soil and when you pull in to Funke’s you start in the parking lot so let’s start there.

 

Soil Improvements.

 

 

Three great “bang for buck” soil improvements perfect for improving hard clay soils or filling raised beds.

 

From left to right in the picture above. Evergreen “topsoil”. I put topsoil in quotes because it’s not what our region would truly call topsoil. It comes out of the deep south and  is basically fully composted pine fines and does an incredible job of adding organic structure to garden soil. The easier it is for the plant’s roots to get established the better they will perform for the gardener. Up close it looks like this:

 

It really is amazing stuff! Because it is composted it is not as acidic as it’s uncomposted counterpart.

 

Pine soil conditioner. A.K.A. “pine fines”.

 

 

This is finely ground pine bark and does an incredible job of not only adding organic structure to hard clay soils but helps to lower the ph as well, which helps to get that 8.5 hard clay back down to the 6.5-7.5 range that most of our garden plants want be at in order to get nutrients from the soil. Out of the bag it looks like this when wet:

 

 

Some home gardeners like to use this as mulch as a better, less pesty and moldy alternative to “black” hardwood mulches that are prone to pests and diseases.

If using this as a mulch I suggest a depth of about 2” to make water penetration a little quicker.

 

Garden magic Topsoil. This comes out of Michigan and is based on “michigan peat”, which is basically swamp muck. Some sand has been added into it as well.

 

 

Out of the bag it looks like this:

 

The really great thing about this for gardens is that it NEVER packs hard keeping your soil nice & soft and easy for roots to get established. To add some fertility to it the same company makes a compost/manure blend.

 

Garden magic Compost & Manure. Pretty much what the name says.

 

 

Out of the bag it looks like this:

 

 

It’s not quite as rich as some of the pricier organic nutrient boosters but it does a nice job in the “bang for buck” department. J

 

My test for whether or not to carry a product here at Funke’s is “Will it meet or exceed my customer’s expectations of the product”. If not, I don’t want it in my store.

 

For more of “heavy hitter” to put nutrients into the soil there are two products that we sell that are exceptionally well suited to the task.

 

Posy Power and Happy Frog Soil Conditioner.

 

Here are some label shots with the list of ingredients for Posy Power, which is made here in Ohio. Further information is available on their website at http://posypower.net/

 

 

 

 

Happy Frog Soil Conditioner is a part of the popular Foxfarm organics line and one thing that this product is really good for is adding beneficial bacteria to your soil. Their website is at http://foxfarmfertilizer.com/category/happy-frog.html . Currently we carry just a few products from this line but we do have access through our distributor for other items. If enough folks request an item we’ll make sure to add it to the mix. Requests can be emailed to Bob at lepere@fuse.net . I haven’t personally used every itme in the Fox Farm line but those that I have used and customer feedback has told me that I can sell this line with complete confidence that it will indeed meet or exceed your expectations. Within reason, of course. If you want to dribble some on your head and turn into a frog, it’s not going to do that for you. If you want to turn into a frog seeking the assistance of your local magic user will probably get better results. J

 

Here’s some pix of the Happy Frog Soil conditioner.

 

  

 

When improving my own vegetable garden I’ll use Posy one time and Happy frog the next.

 

This past week we got a fresh shipment of pine mulches in. We stock several particle sizes from the large nuggets to the mini nuggets. It really is hard to beat the power of pine bark when it comes to durability and performance in the garden! I’ve got mini nugget on our beds out front that has been doing the job without re-application since 2001!

 

 

The large nuggets make a great problem solver for seasonal mud holes like this one I had in the front of the dog kennel.

 

 

They’re also a nice soft durable surface for kid’s play areas.

 

We also have a great selection of superb quality potting soils including compressed bales of professional grower mix. We stock the black gold and Sunshine mixes from Sun Gro of Canada. Over the years I’ve tried just about every mix out there and have always come back to Sun Gro for quality and consistency. The Black Gold potting soils are considerably superior to the Scott’s Miracle gro stuff they sell in the box stores.

 

 

 

Before I leave the parking lot for the April 20th tour there’s one more item I’d like to mention.

While it lasts we’ve got a 5 cubic foot compressed bale of Canadian Peat for $19.99.

 

 

That’s my size 10 foot in the picture for size perspective. Yep, that’s whole lotta peat in the bag!

 

Shrubs & Perennials.

 

In our front display area are a few items.

 

First off there’s a group of super nice assorted Bearded Iris in one gallon pots priced to move at $7.99 ea. Or any 5 for $25. They are currently just starting to bud and bloom.

 

 

There is also a nice group of Boxwood in 3 gallon pots for $21.99.

 

 

Inside there’s a few items of note that may be of interest to you.

 

If you’re looking for a great deal on metal “hayrack” window/wall planters there’s a group of closeout items in the first aisle.

 

 

This a closeout deal so supply is limited to stock on hand.

 

For a little fun addition to inside spaces we just received a nice group of assorted cacti and succulents. The cacti are setting bud and starting bloom. J

 

There’s also an item very popular with the young gardeners and that’s a group of Venus flytrap and Octopus plants.

 

Our growing houses are filled to the brim with all kinds of great starts for your vegetable and herb garden. We do grow flower plants as well including some items that are hard to find in the trade these days. I call it a “boutique” selection. J But of course what brings folks to Funke’s is that, for lack of a better term, INSANE selection of vegetable and herb plants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last picture is a group of Cardamom that will more than likely bloom and fruit this year.

 

This year our selection vegetable and herbs plants is our largest yet. Over 123 varieties of herbs with Culinary, Medicinal and Spiritual uses. Enough to tickle the fancy of the Gourmet and the Herbalist alike. Our signage is heavily researched to give you the most accurate information possible with appropriate disclaimers stated. Funke’s makes no claim as to the fitness of any plant for any purpose. When using herbs medicinally always seek the advice of a competent professional. ‘Nuff said. J

Here’s another really nice group of herbs in 3” pots and backup sowings of tomatoes and peppers on our propagation bench.

Since we do not use chemical growth regulators we do successive sowings to insure a fresh group of plants coming on every week through the prime planting season.

 

 

 

Of course my bizzy-dizzy garden buddy had to make the trek through the greenhouse with me.

 

 

What ya think about that Atlas? Catch that old groundhog yet boy? WOOF!

 

Ah yes, my fellow “puppy people” will appreciate that Dog spelled backwards is God. J

 

With the nights still falling into the upper 30’s it’s still a little early for planting peppers and tomatoes but we’re getting ready for the onslaught of happy gardeners to descend on Funke’s for their heirlooms and favorites. We’re planning on having displays set up by the weekend. By mid week the extended forecast should show where we’re at. Tomatoes and Peppers really do best when nights are in the upper 50’s to mid 60’s.

 

Right now is perfect weather for planting Onions, Potatoes, Radishes, Carrots, Leeks, Lettuce, Cabbage, Collard, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Strawberries, Grapes, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, etc. etc. etc.

 

Not to mention Hops if you do the brewing thing. J

We have a nice selection of assorted Hops varieties well established in one gallon pots.

 

 

These plants will make cones this year.

 

For those who may be new to Funke’s although we are not certified organic, we practice organic growing technique with all of our edible plant crops. That means we’re feeding with fish emulsion, pest control with predatory insects etc.  

 

We also actively participate in the circle of gardeners and garden professionals who strive to keep older varieties (heirlooms) alive for future gardeners that have been left behind by the mainstream of the trade and commercial agriculture in favor of higher yields or disease and pest resistance sacrificing flavor and texture and color and food value in the process.

 

One of our favorite “catch phrases” here is “Just say NO to GMO!”

 

And of course one of my own quotes that I playfully call my “Garden gospel of 2009”, which is, “Teach a person to fish and they’re fed for life, Teach them to garden and they can feed the whole neighborhood”.

 

With that, I will bid you adieu for this issue.

 

‘Til next time,

 

Happy gardening!

 

Al