Cheat Sheet for Beginning Gardeners

If you’re a beginning gardener or new to Fedco, the choices can be overwhelming. How do you pick which products to use in your garden? Over time you’ll learn what’s right for you through reading, talking with neighbors, and the best teacher of all: trial and error. But here are some go-to items that are either especially versatile, especially easy to use, or that really make a difference between success and failure: Image: A toddler plants seedlings in a garden bed with a trowel.

Cover Crop: Choose Buckwheat if you’re planting it after your last spring frost date or more than four weeks before your first fall frost date; Common Oats if you’re planting early or late in the season or White Clover if you want to plant something between rows of crops.

Fertilizer: Wait! Use our Soil Testing Service and we’ll tell you what your soil needs. That being said, seedlings always like to be watered in with Fish Hydrolysate with Kelp.

Garden Fabric: Protect your crops from insects, weather extremes and birds with Covertan. Warm the soil and block weeds with Black Plastic Mulch. They work well together.

Fungicide: Monterey Complete Disease Control is broad-spectrum, low-toxicity and poses no threat to pollinators. Best used as a preventive spray.

Insecticide: Bug-Buster-O is an effective broad-spectrum insecticide with quick knockdown. Do not use where pollinators are active.

Seedling Supplies: CowPots encourage the healthiest root growth. Hold them in sturdy Heavy Duty Trays. GreenTree Ag Blend potting soil is economical and suitable for nearly all seedlings. Use a Heat Mat to ensure good germination rates.

Hand Tool: The Weeding Knife (Hori-Hori) is versatile, classy and practically indestructible.

Pruning Tool: The Felco #7 and Felco #10 pruners cut branches up to an inch thick and won’t strain your hands.

Irrigation Equipment: Start with one of our kits for gardens or for orchards.

Using Cover Crops to Troubleshoot in the Garden

Problem Easy Cover-Crop Solutions
Poor soil drainage or hardpan Deep-rooted Daikon Radish bores drainage holes into the soil with its powerful taproot.
Low organic matter BMR Sorghum/Sudangrass produces more biomass than any other cover crop. It is frost-sensitive. Choose cold-tolerant Forage Oats for fall or spring planting.
Low soil nitrogen Alfalfa and Yellow Sweet Clover are the most capable fixers of atmospheric nitrogen among all the legumes. Be sure to inoculate your seed!
High weed population Winter Rye has vigorous growth and is a strong allelopath on small weed seeds. Buckwheat has vigorous seedling growth and competes well against warm-season weeds.
Soil erosion Annual Ryegrass quickly forms a dense root mat that holds soil in place.
Poor pollination Dutch White Clover can bloom among your crops all season to feed and attract pollinators.
Soil-borne fungal disease Mustard residues release isothiocyanates, which may inhibit the growth of fusarium and other soil-borne fungi.
Root-knot nematodes Sunn Hemp roots exude natural nematicides that can significantly reduce nematode populations in the short term.
Nutrient leaching Deep-rooted Daikon Radish and Camelina scavenge unused soluble nitrogen from deep in the soil and hold it for later crops.