Imagine being able to pick fresh lemons, limes and oranges right from your patio! Read more »
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Our Shear Ease® Grass Shears include a patented mechanism that prevents the blades from jamming or sticking when you’re trimmin... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Hedge Shears, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear techno... Read more »
Our Easy-Pour Watering Can offers both capacity and control. The 2.6-gallon volume holds a generous amount of water that is eas... Read more »
Put your crafting skills to work and create a beautiful and unique fascinator that reflects your personal style. Read more »
“Painting” with tissue paper is not only fun but beautiful! Read more »
Mosaic tile frames are a beautiful way to display photos. Read more »
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Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with a Squeeze Punch that makes every embellishment up to 2X easier to pun... Read more »
Designed for tight, precise cuts through Duck® Tape, our Duck® Edition Detail Scissors feature a non-stick blade coating that p... Read more »
A colorful, roomy bag is just the thing you need to carry all your belongings for a day at the beach. Read more »
Keep the kids busy on a road trip with their own art bag full of inspiration and the essentials. Read more »
This easy pillowcase dress looks adorable with pretty fabrics. Plus, it is super simple to put together, even if you have not... Read more »
Only our Stitcher Scissors provide precision and control that meet the needs of the most demanding sewers and quilters. Micro-T... Read more »
Our Seamstress Scissors are the perfect all-purpose scissors for anyone who cuts fabric frequently. The smooth action of these... Read more »
Choose our Dressmaker Shears for long, smooth cuts through multiple layers of medium to heavy fabrics. Extra-long blades maximi... Read more »
Looking for a sure cure for bored kids - make sparkly sea creatures! Read more »
Open-ended activities like this Busy Book can keep kids occupied in the back seat of a car AND spark fun family conversations! Read more »
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Our Preschool Training Scissors features a special training lever that opens the blades after each cut, helping children learn... Read more »
Children love our Designer Non-stick Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the colorful handle patterns that make cutting fun and the non... Read more »
Our Designer Non-stick Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those ol... Read more »
The beautiful mood lighting of lanterns at outdoor gatherings is fabulous, so why not craft up a set to use this summer. Read more »
Treat your children to their own special tent hideaway, then stand back and watch as the fun and adventures begin! Read more »
Make a thoughtful gift for someone this summer! Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Great for beginners, the unique design of this tool makes cutting perfect shapes from fabric a breeze — since you’re not managi... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
The soil beneath our feet is quite often the most ignored area of the garden. This occurs despite the fact that plants rely on it to grow and thrive. It is from the soil that plants draw much of the water and nutrients they need to stay healthy and complete the process of creating their own food. If toxins exist in the soil, plants may absorb them. If nutrients are out of balance, plants may fail. And, if soil pH is outside the optimal range, our plants may struggle – even if we provide them with sufficient compost, fertilizers, water and sunlight.
Fertilizer does not actually feed plants. When we amend our soils with compost and other fertilizers, we aren’t actually providing plants with food sources. Instead, these materials are components of the food factories that are plants.
When plant roots encounter the various elemental materials found in garden soils, they absorb some of them, use some in their processes, store some in their roots, and pass on some from their various expiration systems. Because plants may absorb and then store unusable toxins like lead and arsenic, we may end up consuming them when we munch on an innocuous looking carrot or beet.
As well, some nutrients plants need deplete from the soil more rapidly than others. For instance, Nitrogen, which is critical to the green growth of plants, quite often needs to be replenished more often than key nutrients such as Phosphorus, which may build up in the soil. Then, if nutrients build up in excess, they can further inhibit a plant’s ability to draw out others they need. For example, if we have excessive Potassium in our soils, nutrients like Nitrogen and Calcium are blocked from our plants, which can lead to yellowing and blossom end rot in tomatoes. Adding more costly Nitrogen or Calcium to fix the problem won’t help until the imbalance is corrected.
And, making matters even more troublesome is the question of balanced pH in the soil. Most plants perform best when the soil pH is between 6.2 - 6.5. When pH is outside this range, plants can struggle significantly even if nutrient availability is sufficient.
Although soil is very complex and may seem daunting, it is easy and inexpensive to get a handle on it through soil testing. For around $10-$20, a soil lab will evaluate your soil for pH, micro and macro-nutrient status, and toxic element levels. Then they will help you understand how best to amend your soil. If your soil is too acidic, they will suggest type, timing and ratio of lime applications to 'sweeten' the soil for optimal growth. They will suggest which type of fertilizer to apply to provide missing nutrients without adding more of others that you may already have. And, they will provide you the peace of mind that you’re growing food in a space that is lead-free and healthy for you and your children.
To create and maintain healthy garden soil, plants and food crops, consider gathering and sending in some soil samples. It’s a fun project with kids, and it will give you some very powerful knowledge toward being a better, healthier gardener. Plus, you’ll likely save money and improve the environment in the long run by reducing over-applying costly fertilizers!
Here’s how to gather and prepare your home soil samples for testing:
There are a number of soil labs providing a range of testing options and prices. Some agricultural extension offices will even provide basic testing for free, but they often don’t provide details on how to adjust the garden based on the facts they find.
Following are a few testing options available in the United States: