When it comes to summer gardening, we all love to see our flowers and vegetables flourish. But one thing that many consumers still seem to struggle with is finding organic products. While there are more on the market each year, the effectiveness of these products is often still questioned. I have been using organic soils for years. I have to admit that, year after year, my plants do, let’s just say… OK. This year, I was on the hunt for a new solution, and one that did not involve chemicals. I found it right at my local nursery. Last year, I tried a product made from earthworm castings (which enriches potting soil) from a company called Coast of Maine. While my flowers stayed healthy, they did not flourish into what I had envisioned. Because of weather and other factors (ahem, perhaps I didn’t make the tea correctly), I was not ready to give up on Coast of Maine and was so excited to find an expanded line this year. One of the coolest things about Coast of Maine is that it is taking what otherwise would be waste and turning it into useful products. Each blend of compost, mulch, soil and fertilizer is made from castings of Maine’s finest ingredients, such as blueberries, lobster and aged bark. Maine has a long composting tradition, and the state formed the Maine Compost Team in the late 1980s. The group was formed to assist the region’s salmon, wild blueberry and shellfish processors successfully compost. Coast of Maine was founded in 1996 by Carlos Quijano, and the original recipe included discarded mussel shells in addition to blueberry and salmon waste. Quijano now sells to more than 700 independent garden centers up and down the East Coast, with plans to expand into Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the works. Since I was already using organic garden soil, I decided that perhaps what I needed was some extra nutrients. I learned that Coast of Maine’s Quoddy Blend Lobster Compost was especially great for tomatoes, and my rooftop vegetable garden has been showing me the love for the last few months. The blend is made from composted crab shells, lobster shells and aspen bark. According to Coast of Maine, “The crab and lobster shells are a rich source of calcium and chitin, the aspen bark a source of tannins and lignins.” I am amazed at how well my vegetables are growing this summer, and yes, especially my tomatoes! I also spruced up my yard this past spring by planting hydrangeas, grasses and boxwood. I added the Lobster Compost to those beds as well, but, since it was a new garden, I additionally used the Dark Harbor Blend Mulch. The mulch is made from composted barks and assists in retaining moisture. Even better: Because it was almost completely decomposed when I poured it out of the bag, it can be dug into my beds in the fall. I cannot believe that my plants have tripled in size in just three months! I cannot wait to see what Coast of Maine will be offering for my gardens next year. As stated on the company’s website, these soils represent an environmental win-win.
“We are finding important new uses for our region’s natural resources and introducing our customers to a cost-effective alternative for growing beautiful, healthy, disease and pest resistant plants.”For more information, see coastofmaine.com.