John & Bob's Blog

April Newsletter

This month, we heralded the Soil Food Web, a name to describe the complex interactions that occur in and around the soil involving multiple organisms from microscopic bacteria all the way up to animals. Largely underappreciated, it is the only way to improve soil. By encouraging complex soil interactions we can repair poor, lifeless or hard soil and make it fertile, workable,crumbly! John & Bob’s products assist and supercharge the Soil Food Web, creating fertile living soil with fewer disease problems, healthier growth, better food production with higher nutrient value and stronger root systems. All of this while promoting healthy environments for our kids and pets!

The Soil Food Web

We believe in gardens that produce edible food, inspire us with beauty, encourage activity and interaction, save water and energy, establish a healthy environment with lively soil, and create useful space. Your garden is your...

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ACCORDING TO JOHN: These ARE the Good Days!

Up until I was about 20, I bought in when people talked about years back when “things were better.” As I passed 30 I started becoming suspicious because I was getting old enough to remember those better days and they didn’t seem better to me. After 40 it became a pet peeve of mine and I tired of hearing predictable comparisons to the bygone days when things were better. I could now remember “the good old days” and there were plenty of problems and challenges then, too.  From my 40s to mid 50s, I’ve been appreciative of our ever-improving world.

Recently, science writer Matt Ridley got my attention with his article in the April edition of Reader’s Digest which underscores the reasons it is great to be alive now. It’s called “Cheer up! 17 Reasons it’s a Great Time to Be Alive.” Compared...

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According to John: Can Onions grow in Poor Soil?

Onions are the second most popular homegrown horticultural crop, after the tomato. They are powerhouses of nutrition, not to mention delicious and versatile! Populations of onion consumers have much lower rates of stomach cancer and lower blood pressure than non-consuming populations. Research indicates onions protect against growth of tumors and Chinese Medicine uses onions to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections and breathing problems.

In early February of this year, ( in the interest of supercharging our health) Jorge, Erica (John and Bob’s staff) and I planted a bunch of tiny little red and white onion plants and a few garlic cloves over about 700 sq ft in the back of our nursery on some lousy soil we have been improving with John & Bob’s GrowGreen Smart Soil Solutions. In late January, before planting the onions, I mixed together 3lbs of OPTIMIZE, 6lbs of NOURISH Biosol and 8lbs of MAXIMIZE and I...

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ACCORDING TO JOHN: Tree Pruning

I’ve often thought that if I die of a heart attack, I’m sure it will be caused by tree pruning. Many times I have turned a corner, been confronted by a butchered tree and clutched my chest. For some reason many believe it is proper to cut large branches in half, employing heading back cuts (see picture). This improper pruning is bad for the health and safety of the tree, bad for air quality, bad for your neighborhood, bad for your entire community, bad for my health and bad, bad, bad. DO NOT DO IT! No matter clear I make it, I see ruined trees everywhere.

Improperly Pruned Chinese Elms

For ornamental shade trees, thinning cuts are most appropriate. Instead of cutting branches in half, you will be removing entire branches. Crossing branches, branches with narrow angles of attachment...

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According to John: Proper Shrub Pruning

In his book, Gardens Are For People, acclaimed landscape architect Thomas Church explains the practice of foundation planting (see the first photo) of large shrubs lined up right next to a house as a remnant from a time when house foundations were unattractive and needed to be hidden. Construction and architectural styles have evolved so that foundation planting is no longer necessary and yet it stays with us. Church says that large plants are used and then need to be “clubbed into submission” so that they don’t swallow the house (see the second photo). He also mentions that shapes “learned in geometry” are the most common forms used for shrubs that suffer severe pruning.

 Let’s do away with foundation planting and most geometric displays--our preference is to show off the house rather than hide it and bring planting out away from the house in order to create useful spaces. We...

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