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John & Bob's Blog

Chemical Fertilizer is Bad for Your Soil

Chemical fertilizer is not the best path to a nutrient dense, self sustaining garden. The route to minimal maintenance and maximum productivity lies in the diverse collection of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other microscopic soil life. Chemical fertilizer supplies macro-nutrients that plants like but the salt in chemical fertilizer actually kills soil life, actually kills soil.

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Using concentrated soil life and food for that life is not like applying chemical fertilizer; rather it is the beginning of a process. Most of the benefit is achieved through the activity of the microscopic soil life that thrives in treated soil. Large scale colonization in the soil occurs, which dramatically increases the soil’s ability to nurture plant growth.

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In healthy soil there is constant communication going on between plants via their root zones. Plants actually “talk” to...

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According to John: How To Rid Pesky Tomato Hornworms

Last week I was a guest on a gardening talk show and a listener asked about controlling tomato hornworms. The hosts were slightly incredulous when I mentioned that controlling tomato hornworms and all other pests and diseases not usually associated with soil quality, are directly related to the quality of your soil and a rich biodiversity of microbial life in the soil. The hosts asked, “How could applying John & Bob’s products impact the presence or absence of tomato hornworms?”

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This is a fascinating question, unfortunately the answers are not simple and not completely understood by current science. An important factor is that 75% of all insect pests spend part of their life cycle in the soil and many of their natural enemies occur there as well (this happens to be the case with the tomato hornworm)as long as the...

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According to John: Fig Harvest!

I had a very robust fig harvest this year! One of my trees is Black Mission, the most esteemed (my favorite) and available fig variety in the world. My other tree is a fancy French variety, of which I can’t remember the name right now.  Figs are special, loaded with antioxidants and among the richest sources of calcium, fiber, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium and vitamin K. Figs have always been considered valuable, throughout history and mythology. Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves and Buddha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, which is a type of fig tree. Ancient Greeks considered figs sacred and associated them with fertility and love.

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Our Fig trees are in soil that has been fortified with micro-nutrients and generous amounts of potassium which aids fruit production and helps fig trees fight disease. Our production continues...

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ACCORDING TO JOHN: Soil Microbes that can Talk?!?

On our John & Bob’s website, we have spent considerable effort explaining why and how organic compounds that contain microbes, food for microbes and attractants for microbes represent the only way to improve lousy soil. It’s miraculous how microbes and the principles of the soil food web can physically improve everything about soil and equally miraculous --- it’s the only way to do it. Right up there with the soil changing capabilities of the John & Bob’s system is its pest and disease fighting capabilities. Nature has a mechanism to make sure plants thrive without sickness or pests. Unfortunately, many of our traditional gardening practices damage nature’s way of making sure plants don’t get sick. Nature’s mechanism to make sure plants stay healthy is life in the soil. We don’t usually think that common pests and diseases have some direct relationship to life in the soil. We don’t...

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ACCORDING TO JOHN – Brown Spots in Turf

Summer fungal disease in cool season turf (fescue, bluegrass, etc.) is the biggest problem facing our lawns in warm climates. As with most disease issues, the problem is best combated with lively soil that is full of strong, beneficial fungi that can combat weaker, harmful fungi. A commonly recommended cure for fungus is to spray with a fungicide. Most of the time, I disagree with this because most fungicides kill all fungi, including the fungi that can prevent and defeat fungal disease. Using this treatment, we are likely to have the same problem every year, because we are destroying our only hope for a natural fungus control when we kill all fungi. I have been a huge proponent of using our John & Bob’s System to build complex life in the soil to prevent and/or defeat destructive fungus in turfgrass. 

To that protocol, we are adding a new organic...

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