A Garden Amendment for every occasion
Organic...natural...sustainable...carbon-neutral...earth-friendly. We have seen and heard these terms with increasing frequency, in association with food, clothing, buildings, office supplies...and of course, gardening!
The good news is that there are now many more options and opportunities to be able to garden with an eye toward the safety of yourself and your family, your pets, the birds that visit your yard and even the groundwater that eventually makes its way to local streams and rivers. We have learned that the individual gardening choices we make do indeed have an impact beyond that of our garden gate.
At Portland Nursery, you'll find everything from ladybugs to nematodes, neem oils to pyrethrins, copper soaps to copper tapes. We feature organics fertilizers and soils from E.B. Stone, Black Forest and Sun Gro. And we’re here to help you find the information you need so you can garden “naturally.”
Organic & Natural
As it relates to fertilizers, soil amendments and other products for the garden, “organic” means that its origins are from animal and/or plant material (bone meal or hemlock bark, for example), which contain carbon.
Rock phosphate, however, though “natural,” does not fall under this definition and so technically cannot be called organic. But as a working definition the term “organic gardening” has evolved to mean using organic and naturally-derived products, as opposed to synthetics -- those that are artificially or chemically-created in a laboratory.
Beneficial garden products can also be derived from naturally-occurring chemical compounds. A great example of this is Sluggo and Worry Free Slug and Snail Killer. The main driving ingredient here is iron phosphate, a naturally-occurring chemical compound. It is very effective for controlling these perennial pests, but unlike their synthetic counterparts, is not hazardous to your pets, birds, or the soil.
Please note that though not carbon-based and therefore not “organic” by a chemist’s definition, some of these non-synthetic pesticides (including insecticidal soap, copper, and neem oil) are acceptable in certified organic food production.
Also, please be aware that even some “organic” or “natural” pesticides nevertheless carry some risks. Pyrethrins are a perfect example. Derived from the seed casings of Pyrethrum plants (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium), they are potent insectides, and are also biodegradeable, making them considered to be much safer than synthetic options - but note they still can be irritants to humans (eyes, skin, respiratory system) and a hazard to aquatic life.
So, the bottom line is that it is important to read labels and follow directions carefully when using any garden product!
For more information and ideas, visit Metro’s natural gardening page.
Whether you are planting a new rhododendron, getting a new garden bed ready for vegetables, or mulching around your roses, we carry a quality line of amendments appropriate for every need.
Materials that, when added to the existing soil, work to improve its condition and physical properties (increase water retention, drainage, aeration, etc.) making it more beneficial to plant root development and growth. Amendments may include things like compost, pumice, sand, peat moss, among others.
For Hard Clay Soil, use Nurseryman’s Black Forest, or any other ‘chunky’ (woodier, large-particle) mix such as Pumice.
Here in the Pacific Northwest our soil tends toward the acidic, so while a special blend for acid loving plants might not be as necessary as it would elsewhere, you can be assured of giving these plants a boost by giving them amendment suited to their needs.
A rule of thumb is to use richer, better-quality blends when starting a new garden bed, to give it an optimum start; then move to ‘milder’ mixes for regular maintenance.
There are so many choices, we thought we’d give you a guide to the products we carry and the situations for which they’re best suited, to help get you started:
|Annuals||E.B. Stone: Planting Compost|
|Herbs||E.B. Stone: Planting Compost|
|Perennials||E.B Stone: Planting Compost|
|Grasses||E.B. Stone: Planting Compost|
|Hydrangeas||E.B. Stone: Azalea Camellia Mix|
|Azaleas||E.B. Stone: Azalea Camellia Mix|
|Rhododendrons||E.B. Stone: Azalea Camellia Mix|
|Roses||E.B. Stone Rose Mix|
|Shrubs for sun||Black Forest|
|Shrubs for shade||Black Forest|
When it comes to potted plants I think it is fairly simple, if you eat it use organic (E.B. Stone’s Edna’s Best OR Black Gold All Organic). If you don’t eat it, use Black Gold All Purpose.
|Annuals||Black Gold All–Purpose|
|Herbs||Black Gold All–Organic|
|Grasses||Black Gold All–Purpose|
|Perennials||Black Gold All–Purpose|
|Small Fruit||Black Gold All–Organic|
|Veggies*||Black Gold All–Organic|
* In raised beds: ¾ gardeners choice ¼ Black Gold All–Organic.
Rocky Point Poo
We like to carry local products that we find to be outstanding. Rocky Point Poo is one of those. Rocky Point Poo is a product of Rocky Point Stables in Scappoose, Oregon just north of Portland on Highway 30.
Rocky Point Poo compost is given the utmost care and attention to ensure you with a product perfect for your garden, plants, and flowers. The horse manure is cured, turned, and processed while monitoring the water and oxygen intake to stabilize the most nutrients as possible within the compost.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to contact us or check out their Rocky Point Poo website.
is an amendment that can be thoroughly mixed into the existing soil. It can be a blend of organic materials (peat moss, manure, wood ash, for example) and may sometimes include inorganic components (perlite, vermiculite, sand, for example), or a combination of the two.
In the past, manure and peat moss were the standard for compost. Now it has been found that plants benefit with a wider blend of components, but you will find that most composts still include both peat and manure in their mixes. Today there are environmental concerns with some sources of peat, so using smaller quantities in conjunction with other materials still provides its beneficial qualities without relying so heavily on its use.
is not an amendment per se, because it is not mixed into the soil, but rather spread on the surface. It is used to promote water retention, weed suppression and moderating soil temperature (helping to keep cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter). Mulch is also used for an attractive, finished look to garden beds.
There are two types of materials used for mulch – top dress, or removable is mostly used for weed suppression and winter protection, then removed after it has served its purpose. This type includes larger particle material like straw, leaves and bark products.
Compost and other materials may be used for the second type known as a non-removable mulch and which can be applied at any time of the year. As time passes after application, non-removable mulch is worked into the soil or gradually incorporated by the activity of weather and worms (which then makes it also an amendment) and other soil dwellers.
Mulch: Top dress only
- Rexius Hemlock Bark
No splinters – good in areas with kids, dogs and bare feet!
- Cocoa Mulch
Use only in dry areas as it will mold with too much retained moisture.
Mulch: Non-removable Mulch
- Nurseryman’s Black Forest
- EB Stone Planting Compost