“You don’t have to have a green thumb to have a successful garden, you only need a great growing medium”
In the tradition of any organoponico, NEEM creates our own compost on site for our garden. We preach composting as part of the self-sustaining garden, a means to reduce landfill inputs and as a complement to the carbon footprint.
Since we are an urban farm restricted by inner city statutes as it pertains to large scale composting we are not able to create the volume of compost we need for the number of gardens we do in Durham. NEEM also firmly believes in collaboration with other businesses that are complimentary and share NEEMs standards. While there are many that produce a great compost product we found one company that produced a product that is a fit for NEEM. Novozymes, a Danish company and member of the Composting Council is in close proximity and our partner in a distribution agreement with NEEM. Given current restrictions and our available footprint against the quantity we require each year working with this dynamic company bodes well for both companies and NEEM projects. We simply have any quantity of compost we may need, whenever we need it. We work closely together and are assured of quality control and consistency of product.
Our compost is named “NEEM First Bloom” is made from degraded pine bark, neem and vegetable matter only.
First Bloom is produced under laboratory standards on a 20-acre footprint with total capacity of 60,000 Cubic Yards per year. Area residents and other groups involved in the urban farm movement have access to this product from NEEM at our Durham facility.
You need more than healthy soil; you need healthy soil that addresses certain specific issues that insure a more successful garden. We do not use manures because we do not trust sources for them and are suspect of hormones and steroids that animals may have been given. First Bloom does not have soil introduced into it either. This reduces shipping weight and cost but most importantly eliminates weed seeds that manure and soil carry. This provides as close to a weed-free garden as you can hope to get.
Neem tree by-products and compost
NEEM is one of the only nurseries distributing neem cake and karanja cake shipped producer-direct from India. Both of these items have a moderate- to low-nitrogen content and each has beneficial attributes to systemic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) through slow release. Neem mixed with compost and its components introduces azadirachtin into your plants and provides systemic protection to them. Neem is an antibacterial but true to form, neem has no negative effect on good soil bacteria. Neem also helps control nematodes, root born funguses, viruses and other soil-borne problems. Our neem oil and resultant neem cake is cold water, expeller pressed. NEEM does not use or promote neem products produced using solvents. Many commercial neem agricultural or garden products claiming neem as an ingredient in an attempt to be “green” are solvent expressed neem products and no longer organic.
NEEM is the only nursery operation in the United States that introduces neem into our vermi-composting. We use Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida). Once again we do what the Cubans do, we farm our worm in troughs and we harvest our worms before removing the castings. There is one exception to the Cuba mehod of vermiculture, the introduction of neem into the vermi-compost we produce. Worms love neem leaf and we add that to their food. Along with all of the dynamic properties of vermiculture our neem-based castings contain low level nitrogen and Azadirachtin, the active anti-pesticidal compound belonging to the liminoids found in neem tree by-products. Because of our fall and winter temperatures we vermi-compost in the greenhouse where we can manipulate the temperatures and moisture.
NEEM takes specific amounts of each of the finished products described above and mixes them in prescribed amounts as integral components. Each brings to the final growing medium an unparalleled product “NEEM First Bloom” as one of the best growing mediums available for NEEM, its projects, the communities we serve and the greater Durham community.
The last straw
Even the most seasoned gardener will mix his compost with his tilled soil. NEEM amends existing soil but does not mix our medium with tilled soil in our gardens. We fill the beds with this product and plant straight into it. It is cheaper to mix with the existing soil but does not produce the same result. After that we add two pounds per square yard to our garden each planting season. This maintains healthy soil and helps regulate our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program during each season.
Some of our gardeners are new. We want their garden to be as successful and foolproof the first season as is possible to retain their pride, interest and continued production. This is critical in any neighborhood whether inner city, low- to moderate-income or not. By providing ongoing products NEEM helps maintain this “positive and productive garden” and is a form of residual income to NEEM that further benefits existing and new projects.
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