6 Tips for a Perfect Pollinator Garden

March 8, 2023


Pollinators are ecosystem heroes. 🦋

Bees, butterflies, moths, bats, birds, and even wasps have ensured that plants can reproduce long before humans started cultivating plants. Without them, the world as we know it would be impossible — all the food we grow, plant resources we use, and plant-expelled oxygen we breathe is dependent on pollinators.

Creating a pollinator paradise is simple, but there are a few important things to know before you get started. All the resources you need are at your fingertips online or at your local garden store…and we’ll start you off with some basic knowledge!

Here are six tips for growing a stunning pollinator garden this year, including a few easy-to-grow pollinator-friendly plants to try.


1. Choose native plants

Selecting plants that are native to your region will increase the benefits of your garden to pollinators and to the entire ecosystem. 

“Native plants share a long evolutionary history with their pollinators,” writes Constance Schmotzer of Penn State University’s Agricultural Extension.

Not only are native plants easier to maintain (because they evolved to thrive in your climate!), but they are also experts at attracting your local pollinators. Plus, they tend to be more hardy and can flourish without harsh fertilizers and pesticides, thanks to the adaptations they’ve gained through millennia of growing in your climate, soil type, and in relationship with other local native plants and wildlife. 

Do your research (online and at a local nursery) to find out what kinds of native pollinator-friendly flowers (and the grasses and other types of plants that support a healthy ecosystem) are good to grow in your soil and Plant Hardiness Zone. Contacting your local Master Gardeners or the closest agricultural university extension is also a great way to get more detailed info on native plants for your garden.

2. Prioritize biodiversity

You want to focus on biodiversity in any garden you’re growing, that’s for sure. It’s especially important when cultivating a pollinator garden.

Biodiversity (cultivating a wide variety of crops) is key for a pollinator paradise — and key for the health of our whole planet. 

Some pollinators can get nectar and pollen from a wide variety of flowers, but others have specialized needs and some have special needs when it comes to gathering their food. A successful pollinator garden has something for everyone.

Create a garden full of unique varieties so pollinators have lots of different options. Choose plants with pollen-rich blooms in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. 

Make sure there is food for the caterpillars too! Baby pollinators (larvae) need to eat the leaves of native trees, shrubs, and perennials, and many caterpillars can only eat one or two specific kinds of “host” plant. This host plant is also where the butterflies or moths will lay their eggs to hatch into new pollinators

So check out what kind of host plants your local pollinator larvae need to eat and make sure those are in your garden, too. 

3. Go organic

Harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides cause more harm than good for pollinators. But we probably didn’t need to tell you that. 😉 

Our brand new Annuals & Perennials Food will be perfect for your pollinator garden.

Limit hybrids and heavily genetically altered plants, too. These may have lost their ability to produce nectar and pollen (especially if they have been hybridized for special blooms or extra color). 

4. Stagger your blooms

The longer you have blooming flowers, the longer pollinators can enjoy their harvest in your garden! Pollinators will be emerging, building their colonies, and laying eggs at different times of year and need food throughout.

Look for plants with a diverse timeline of blooming periods. Try for early spring bloomers and some flowers that will last to late fall. 

5. Location matters


Plant you pollinator-friendly plants in drifts of color. Clump several plants of the same type together to give pollinators a bright, attractive swath of colorful, fragrant blooms!

6. Try these easy-to-grow pollinators plantssunflower

  • Yarrow: This lovely yellow wildflower is a signature of pollinator gardens from Zones 3 to 10.
  • Milkweed: This Zone 9-10 plant is the sole food of monarch butterfly larvae and feeds many other types of pollinator.
  • Sunflower: You can’t go wrong with sunflowers. You can find a variety for just about every zone that blooms late into fall.
  • Goldenrod: These gorgeous, brightly colored blooms are vital for monarchs, too, in Zones 4-8.

pollinator garden tips

annuals and perennials blog

Get to Know Annuals & Perennials Food

February 27, 2023


Meet the newest addition to the True Organic Plant Food lineup: our Organic Annuals & Perennials Food! We’re excited to answer some common questions about this new granular blend.

As usual, whenever we talk about soil science, we get some expert help from our R&D Agronomist and plant doctor, Dr. Margaret McCoy, PhD — the coolest homesteading viticulturist in the PNW! Read more about Margaret and the rest of our rockstar R&D and science team in last month’s blog.

How is the Annuals & Perennials Food different from other True Organic plant foods?

This uniquely crafted blend is higher in phosphorus and potassium (relative to nitrogen). Phosphorus and potassium encourage flower growth (reproductive growth) over vegetative growth. A more generalized food like our All-Purpose Plant Food has more nitrogen to encourage more vegetative growth. But when you plant flowers, you want blooms! Specifically, you want to see more blooms than stems or greenery. Raising a sturdy plant is important for getting prolific, healthy blooms.

Phosphorus ensures that the energy taken in by the plant is moved into roots for development and growth, as well as for flowering.

The increased potassium is good for establishing strong shoots and roots at the cellular level, so that the plants can pull up lots of nutrients. This is especially important for perennials, since they are long-lasting garden additions that hold up lots of beautiful blooms (hopefully)! Potassium in the form of soluble potash can also contribute to increased size of blooms.

Let’s look at the premium ingredients used in this blend. What are they and how does each contribute to plant and soil health? 

Shrimp Shell Meal and Crab Shell Meal: These both contain high proportions of chitin, a nitrogen-rich amino sugar that triggers an immune response in plants — so it helps suppress soil-borne diseases. Shells also contain calcium and magnesium. Calcium increases cell wall strength and helps reduce the likelihood of things like blossom end rot; magnesium is key to a plant’s ability to absorb sunlight because it’s an essential part of chlorophyll.

These two ingredients also tend to break down quicker than bone meal. 

Poultry Manure: While many kinds of manure can make a great base for granular fertilizers, poultry manure is widely used in gardening and agriculture because it tends to be higher than other animal manures in the nutrients that plants most need. Of course, it’s also a good source of organic matter. Our poultry manure comes from organically fed birds and passes through the most rigorous food safety-certified protocol possible, so this organic goodness is ready to nourish plants and soil.

Soybean Meal: Typically high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus and potassium, this plant-based fertilizer component is slow-release. That means it can feed the plant over the growing season in small increments. It’s good to note that microorganisms will break this material down easiest during warm, wet weather (or when you consistently water during warm weather).  

What home garden plants is Annual & Perennial Food best for? 

perennial flowersIt’s a good choice for any long-term planting like herbs, perennials, and flowers that tend to be leggy. It’s also great when you want to give plants a healthy dose of phosphorus and/or potassium during the growing season. These plants may have plenty of nitrogen with good vegetative growth, but adding phosphorus and potassium can improve roots, strength, and flowers.

Any plants that should NOT get any Annual & Perennial Food?

Annual & Perennial Food isn’t aimed at heavy nitrogen feeders (like tomatoes, corn, peppers, etc.). You can use Annual & Perennial Food as a timed application to help boost blooms or fruit in things like peppers and tomatoes, but it shouldn’t be your primary source of fertilizer.

Margaret’s top tips:margaret mccoy

  • Remember to keep the soil moist to help the fertilizer break down for plant uptake by soil microorganisms, but not so wet that roots begin to rot!
  • Over-applying will not always get bigger or better results! 
  • If you grow the same plants in the same place every year, try to change it up so that you can replenish the nutrients removed by those plants. 
  • You can also amend the soil by adding compost or other organic material in the fall when you remove that season’s plants. This gives you a leg up when you plant the following season. 
  • Fertilizing perennials is different from what you might be used to with annuals. Take time to research your plants so you always have the best blooms on the block. Flower show winners! I mean, is it really gardening if you don’t brag about your crops?! (Not that we’re competitive over here or anything…)

Happy gardening!

annuals perennials blog

meet the r&d team

Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Feb 15, 2023


Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Our Research & Development Team at True Organic truly sets us apart. This crew of dedicated science and agriculture professionals works to find even better ways to deliver powerful, organic, food-safe plant foods to you — and to the large-scale farms we’ve been serving for decades.

So we thought it was due time for them to share the spotlight with the products they help develop.  

From orchards and lettuce fields to chemistry labs and conferences, this team brings passion and positivity to everything they do. Meet our R&D Team!

Meet Mike Menes, PhD: Vice President Food Safety & Technology

mike menes

Hello, Mike! What’s your role with True Organic? 

I’m responsible for providing the systems and resources to manufacture a product at the highest quality standard. I am also a representative of True Organic in relation to the government and the wider organic industry.

Why is your work important to you?

In a few words: I can make a difference. I’m able to affect change and tell the world about it — like protecting the USDA Organic Seal and food/product safety (we’re proud to hold the highest possible standard for food safety), which are aspects that are important to me personally. We do this work with the objective to improve the lives of people in our company, the lives of people who buy our products, and to improve the planet.

A little more about me:

I am an avid woodworker. I learned some carpentry skills from my father and in a cabinet shop in college and in the summers after. I’ll try and make anything…I can’t guarantee that it’ll be very pretty, but it usually turns out okay.


Meet Ramy Colfer, PhD: Vice President, Research & Development / Agronomy

ramy colfer

Hi, Ramy! What’s your role at True Organic?

I work to improve our understanding of the many benefits of True Organic products for

organic farmers: improving soil health and plant nutrient availability, bolstering plant health and resilience, and helping our customers succeed. I really enjoy working with growers (our customers), our sales team, our production team, and my excellent R&D and Agronomy team. 

What do you love about your work? 

We help grow amazing organic crops and make soil better too while giving a home to waste products. True Organic is a great company to work for and has very strong integrity: in our commitment to customer service, organic integrity, and food safety, and in giving strong, scientifically-based guidance to our customers. True is a world-changing company in the way we take agricultural byproducts, process them for premium quality and safety, then quickly deliver them on a massive scale to growers all over the country. When I see how much organic food we help grow, and how much carbon material is added to the soil every year because of True Organic products, it brings me pride and satisfaction.

We have a very tight family culture here. We work hard together and try to improve the company every day. True is an exciting company, growing incredibly over the last two decades, with great potential to grow even more. Our goals are lofty and our only limits are our imaginations.

A little more about me: 

I love my family, I love my home and the place I live, and I love working in organic agriculture. I have a wonderful wife and three daughters that are all doing incredible things in the world. I really enjoy regular activities in our local mountains and ocean here on the Central Coast. There is rarely a week that goes by when I am not hiking in the mountains or surfing in the ocean. I am a person with great gratitude. I hope to help the world a little before I leave.


Meet Ehsan Toosi, PhD: Director of Research & Development

ehsan toosi

Hello, Ehsan! What’s your role with True Organic? 

Apart from particular research directions that I lead, I work with the rest of the R&D team at our Helm, California facilities on projects as well as research facilities (research lab and greenhouse), but also with the Operations team and external partners, especially technical and research units.

Why is your work important to you?

Our team at True is dedicated to turning upcycled waste/by-products into premium inputs for use in intensive organic cropping systems. I am fortunate to be a part of this effort and work in the industry, given a number of environmental and agronomic benefits of organic cropping, and nutritional value of organic crops.

A little more about me:

Indulging myself anywhere outdoor in the Sierras is my primary interest when I get a chance.


Meet Andrew Pedersen: Central Valley Senior Agronomist

andrew pedersen

Hey, Andrew! What’s your role at True Organic?

I support our sales team, customers, and growers in understanding and using True Organic products. I also create crop fertility programs to help guide organic growers on how best to apply our products (like determining application rates and timings).

During the production season (February through October), I oversee trials on organic farms, mostly to compare fertility using True Organic products to another program the grower might be using. Many times, I’m comparing a new True product or program to other True products the grower is already using — that’s how we continuously improve the productivity of organic systems. We use soil and leaf tissue tests to determine nutrient availability, capture aerial imagery with drones using specialized sensors that can help compare plant health, and evaluate yield and quality (critical points, as they’re the bottom line for the grower). In the late fall and winter, I interpret, summarize, and present data from our trials to the sales team, customers, and growers. 

What matters to you about your work?

I live in Tulare County, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. This valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, specializing in nuts, grapes, fresh fruit, and a variety of vegetables. Growers in this region are facing tremendous challenges, the biggest of which is water availability for irrigation. I believe organic production has the potential to provide growers the opportunity to improve long-term economic profitability, while improving soil health and farming in a more sustainable way. Farming organically can be difficult, and resources about how to do it successfully are limited. True Organic has been and will continue to be an important resource for these growers as they transition to organic farming.

A little more about me:

My family and I are lucky to live on 4 acres. My wife, who is a veterinarian, has plenty of room for animals (horses, goats, and chickens) and I have a lot of space to grow my own fruits and vegetables. I have about 20 different fruit trees and grow a variety of vegetables year-round, thanks to California’s climate. It’s so satisfying to watch my 2 kids enjoying tomatoes, peaches, or mandarins that I grew and harvested myself. And since I started at True, I’ve got lots of free organic fertilizer to play with!

Meet Justin Russak, PhD: Senior Chemist

justin russak

Hi, Justin! What’s your role at True Organic? 

I have the privilege of taking ideas and turning them into useful products. The research begins in the R&D lab, which is equipped with all the instruments and tools we need to ensure our products are stable, compatible, and meet specifications. Working with production and engineering, products that are ready for primetime need to be translated from their small lab-scale tests to large-scale production. A good portion of my time is dedicated to supporting these efforts as well as many others at our facility in Helm, CA. 

What do you love about your work at True? 

It is extremely satisfying to work in an environment with like-minded people who inspire greatness. The work we put in as a team has a direct impact on the products we sell to organic growers. The final reward is seeing a grower’s product in the grocery store and putting it in my basket, knowing that in some small way I contributed to that process.

A little more about me:

I tackle the New York Times crossword daily — it’s been a thing for maybe 5 years or so now, along with the Spelling Bee and Wordle. If you know…you know.

Meet Margaret McCoy, PhD: PNW R&D Agronomist

margaret mccoy

Hey, Margaret! What do you do at True Organic? 

During the summer, I do data collection and analysis including soil and tissue samples for trials and grower collaborators. We meet with growers to go over trial data and progress to help inform their organic production.

What do you love about your work at True?

I find happiness in helping growers and hopefully making a difference to the industries we work with. Organic farming is in my blood, and I want to honor those who have taught me or helped me along this path in life. 

A little more about me:

I love to snowboard and I make wine from my own vineyard. 

meet the team

ccof foundation    ccof foundation

blog headers

8 Best Fruit Trees for Your Home Garden

Jan 31, 2023


8 Best Fruit Trees for Your Home Garden 

Do you dream of relaxing in a dreamy orchard buzzing with bees and birds? Enjoying ripe fruit and relaxing under blossom-filled trees? 

We created our Fruit & Nut Tree Food, the latest addition to the True Organic plant food family, to make your backyard orchard dreams come true!

Even if you only have room for one or two fruit trees, you can definitely grow delicious fruit in your home garden (or even indoors). With some forethought and research, even a small outdoor space can accommodate fruit trees.

How to choose?

Here’s what to consider before you commit to a fruit tree for your home garden:

Size & Space

How much space do you have for your tree(s)? Fruit trees range greatly in size and some can even be cultivated successfully in containers. Some dwarf fruit trees might grow to just 6-8 feet tall and 2 feet wide!

Choose types that will be easy to find room for as they grow and bear fruit.

Plant Hardiness Zone

Choose a type of fruit tree that thrives in your climate. Thankfully, there are fruit trees that love almost every Zone, even in cold and dry climates.

Soil Type

Is the earth in your yard sandy, acidic, loamy? Different varieties of fruit trees thrive in specific types of soil, so find out what kind of soil you’re working with before you buy any trees. Check out our blog with Agronomist Dr. Margaret McCoy, PhD for all the details on soil testing.tree planting

Pollination Requirements

Some trees are self-pollinating (like most of your garden crops) but some require cross-pollination. Non-self-pollinating trees won’t produce a good harvest without a “partner tree” to pollinate them.

If you choose a tree that needs to be cross-pollinated, you’ll either need to make sure there is another tree of the same species nearby (within 100 feet is ideal for bees) or you’ll need to hand-pollinate (which is much simpler than you might think, but still requires a bit of expertise and time). The pollination partner needn’t be the same variety of fruit, just the same species.

Learn more about pollination requirements for various crops with these helpful resources from Penn State University’s College of Agriculture Extension.

Your Favorite Fruits

As with any garden crop, grow what you love! While it can be fun to experiment with new crops and varieties, the most rewarding part of growing fruit trees is eating delicious, nutritious, sweet treats. So go with your favorites.

New to growing fruit trees? Try one of these:


pearAlong with apples, pear trees are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow and they’re great for beginners. They can grow in many different climates, are simple to care for, are disease- and pest-resistant, and usually yield lots of fruit.

Like many fruit trees, pears need to grow for a few years before fruiting. Pear trees typically start bearing fruit after 3 years, but some take at least 7 years before they’ll give you fruit.

Because of their natural disease resistance, pear trees are ideal for growing organically. Like most fruit and nut trees, they’ll do well when fertilized twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Use an organic fertilizer like our Fruit & Nut Tree Food, which is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, and nitrogen.

Many varieties of pear tree are self-pollinating, too! 


The classic apple tree is a home gardening favorite for good reason! Apple trees are generally easy to grow, high-producing, and hardy in lots of climates. One of the best trees for beginners, apples do require several years before they start bearing fruit — for some varieties, up to 8 years.

But like some other types of fruit trees, some apple varieties are “dwarf” trees that grow around 10-15 feet tall and can start fruiting after only 2-3 years.

Apples are non-self-pollinating (also known as “self-unfruitful”), so one lonely apple tree in the backyard might not yield fruit on its own. Plant another apple tree nearby or scope out your neighborhood to see if any neighbors are growing apples. 


Figs are such a fun, underrated fruit and they’re shockingly simple to grow! 

Fig trees thrive in many climates and can be kept in small spaces. Like pear trees, fig trees are very resistant to disease, are typically self-pollinating, and grow quickly — you don’t need to wait years for a fig tree to bear fruit.


cherryBing cherries are one of the most beginner-friendly varieties to grow: the fruit is sweet and plump, and these trees produce big, yummy harvests.

Most cherry trees start yielding fruit on their fourth year, so be ready to commit before you start putting cherry pie on the menu.

Birds love cherries, so be prepared to cover your trees after the flowering stage.


There are a surprising number of varieties of plum, so there’s sure to be one that fits your needs and your tastes. Depending on the variety, plum trees may be self-fertile or cross-pollinating, so be sure to commit to a type of plum tree you can care for properly. 

Watch out for soil that doesn’t drain well when you’re growing plum trees, as they can be particularly sensitive to waterlogged soil.


Juicy, sunset-colored apricots are a bit easier to grow than peaches and yield a whole lot of fruit. Best of all, they bloom early, so you’ll be eating apricots first thing in the springtime.

These delightful trees are self-pollinating and grow big branches full of luscious green leaves, perfect for lounging beneath.

Because of their early blooming nature, though, watch out for late frosts and cold snaps, which could damage flowering apricot trees. 


While lemon and other citrus can’t grow in every climate, they do amazingly well in climates that they like! If you live somewhere like that, you probably never buy lemons — they’re abundant on every corner of the neighborhood and neighbors are begging you to take them away.

Lemon trees are great for container growing and can even be grown indoors with the right care. Indoor container lemon trees will stay under 4 feet tall. So cute!

They can grow happily in various kinds of soil (although they prefer slightly acidic soil) and are easy to care for. Most varieties will start bearing fruit in their third or fourth year.

Lemon trees are very cold-sensitive and cannot withstand frost, so be prepared to cover your lemon tree if you live in a place that gets frost. 


Okay, not many people want to grow crabapple, but hear us out! Crabapple trees may not produce the yummiest fruit, but they are stunning additions to any landscape with their sweet-smelling blossoms of white, pink, and pale red. 

Crabapple trees grow in a ton of different climates, and while they don’t like hot weather, some varieties can thrive in extreme cold, even in Zone 2a (Alaska!) 

So what about that fruit? Crabapples (which technically just means an apple that is tiny — under 2 inches in diameter, to be exact) are super-tart and hard in texture. They’re not good to eat raw (unless you’re a bird or a squirrel), but you can make delicious jams, jellies, fruit butters, even crumble and crisps. 

If you’re new to fruit trees or live in a cold climate, crabapples are a great place to start learning how to plant and care for these wonderful garden additions.

best fruit trees

winter seed sowing

Winter Sowing: How to Start Seeds Outdoors

January 14, 2023


Do you like to start your garden with seeds? It’s a super gratifying way to grow plants!seedling

You might have experience with direct sowing (planting seed right into the garden bed where they’ll remain), but starting seedlings outdoors through the winter is a nature-approved method that will become your new favorite garden trick.

It’s called winter sowing and it’s way easier than you think!

Benefits of Winter Sowing

Quick and low-maintenance 

Winter sowing is a nearly “set it and forget it” method that gives you hardy, ready-to-plant crops for your spring garden. Preparing the containers is incredibly simple and family-friendly — a great project for kids.

Once you prep and plant your seeds, you’ll leave them outside for months to activate their ability to germinate (a process referred to as scarring or stratifying), watch them sprout into seedlings and harden off all by themselves right in upcycled, reusable containers. 

Low-cost and sustainable

Winter sowing is low-cost, simple, and space-efficient. The only materials you need are cleaned plastic containers like milk jugs, scissors, and permanent markers. Oh, and seeds and soil, of course. 

It’s a great way to save money on your gardening hobby: seeds are way less expensive (sometimes they’re even free if you use a seed exchange or library). Plus, you’ll have control of the whole process, ensuring that your plants are organic, hardy, and ready to go in the ground.

Find a seed library or exchange near you with the Seed Librarian’s locator map or the Seed Savers Exchange search feature — or do a quick internet search. If you can’t find anything online, visit your local nursery to consult a gardening expert about seed exchanges in your neighborhood. Or start saving your own seeds!

Can’t find an organic seed exchange in your hometown? Start one! Get some pointers from our friends at Phoenix Seed Swap, a small grass-roots seed saving and sharing project in Arizona. 

Creates hardy, healthy seedlings

The hardening off process that indoor-grown seedlings need prior to being planted in the ground can be tricky, time-consuming, and stressful. 

Seedlings started outside don’t need to be hardened off before planting in the garden — the process of winter sowing does that naturally.

As they germinate and grow outside in natural weather conditions (protected in their containers from getting washed away by rain or dug up by hungry animals), they’re getting used to natural weather conditions and being nourished by natural light. All of that acclimates them to a life outside! They’ll be hardier, stronger, and ready to be happily transplanted into the garden come spring.

No fancy equipment needed

And no greenhouse required, either!  Winter sowing is ideal for those with limited indoor space for seed starting. No special lighting or equipment is required for germination.


Winter Sowing Basicswinter sowing

How does winter sowing work?

Winter sowing means planting seeds and tending seedlings in outdoor containers before spring. This process mimics the natural process of seed germination. 

Most seeds are dormant and need something to trigger their “wake-up call” before they can germinate. (Thank you, winter!) 

Winter sowing does not mean directly sowing your seeds in the ground. They’d be quite unlikely to make it to spring in that case. 

What do I need?

  • Containers: Gallon milk jugs are the most popular, but other plastic containers with lids work, too.
  • Space: You don’t need much! A corner of your yard will do.
  • Seeds
  • Potting soil

What crops should I sow?

You’ll be surprised at how many varieties are ideal for winter sowing. Many flowering plants, herbs, and edible crops can be sown outside in winter.

So how can you be sure a seed is good for winter sowing? 

Start by looking for seeds that are considered “hardy” in your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

If you’re using store-bought or online-ordered seeds from a packet, the information on that packet is all you need. You can also get a ton of helpful info from any seed catalog. Even if you aren’t ordering your seeds from a catalog, you can get a free catalog mailed to you from almost any seed company. We recommend going organic! 

Look for terms like: reseeding, self-sowing, hardy, withstands frost, sow outdoors in early spring, stratification, and scarification. That means the seed is good for outdoor winter sowing.

When should I sow my seeds?

It depends greatly on the conditions in your area, which you can learn about by identifying your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (sometimes referred to as Garden Zone). Check it out here.

Generally, your best bet to winter sow perennials and hardy annuals will be December through March (later in that range if you live in a colder climate). These seeds need to chill out in cold temperatures and moist conditions for a while in order to germinate in spring. 

For less hardy plants like veggies and other tender annuals, March and April are good times for winter sowing. Those seeds don’t need a cold period before germination. winter sowing

Step-by-Step Winter Sowing

Prepare containers

  • Clean: Wash a milk jug or other translucent plastic container with soap and rinse well.
  • For milk jugs: With a serrated knife or box cutter, just below the handle, cut almost all the way around the jug. Leave about 2 inches as a hinge, so the top part of the jug can open easily. (Skip this step for plastic takeout containers, but save the lid.) You can toss out the milk jug lid.
  • Make drainage holes in the bottom of the container. If you’re using a container with a lid, poke a few holes in the lid, too.

Prepare soil

  • Fill container with at least 4 inches of organic potting mix. Avoid garden soil which may contain pathogens and weed seeds.
  • Lightly water soil and allow it to drain.
  • You don’t need to add plant food until the seed germinates and sprouts. Once you have a few leaves, you can use True Organic Preplant Food.

Sow and seal

  • Follow the directions on the seed package to sow your seeds.
  • If using milk jugs, seal the container around the “seam” with light-colored outdoor-style tape (remember, you want lots of sunlight to get in, so don’t use something like black tape, which will block out light.). Leave the top of the milk jug off so water can enter.
  • If using a lidded container, place the lid back on, double-checking that water can get into the holes in the lid.

“Set and forget” 

  • Label your containers with type of seed and sowing date.
  • Choose a secure location outside that gets lots of sun all day and gets some rain or snow. Do not place your containers under an awning — they need moisture!
  • Leave them alone! Revisit them when your seedlings start germinating in spring.

A few things to watch out for:

Early spring or a warm spell

If seeds get a burst of warm weather, they could germinate too soon, leaving baby seedlings vulnerable to returning cold weather.

Lack of sun

Be sure the location you choose has good sun all day, especially as Winter days are still short. 

Wind and other extreme weather

If a wind storm is coming, move your containers into the garage overnight or place them in a heavy crate until the conditions pass.


Although your seeds are protected by their containers, animals like mice, birds, and squirrels can be relentless (and quite clever) when it comes to getting some winter nosh. It’s worth checking on your containers every so often to make sure animals aren’t fussing with them or chewing/clawing at them — and moving them to a more secure location, if so.

winter sowing

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

December 21, 2022


Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

You’ve probably heard of CCOF: a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion. CCOF’s mission is to help build a world where organic is the norm. CCOF’s educational and grant-making enterprise is the CCOF Foundation, which empowers organic farmers to grow organic agriculture, which in turn creates a more prosperous, resilient world. It’s easy to see how True Organic and CCOF’s missions align. We’re honored to be an ongoing supporter of the CCOF Foundation, particularly as a donor to their Future Organic Farmer program.


Photo credit: The Curated Feast for CCOF Foundation

About CCOF & The CCOF Foundation

In 1973, CCOF was founded by 13 farmers who made a commitment to support organic farming and each other. Their commitment evolved into an organic certification business (how you’ve probably heard of CCOF — or at least seen the certification label!) and the CCOF Foundation.

The CCOF Foundation focuses on the founders’ spirit of community support, while CCOF’s organic certification enterprise continues to ensure organic standards across the country.

CCOF is committed to exploring the growing edge of organic, and that’s why they’re invested in new organic farmers’ education, resources for farmers in transition to organic, and in supporting seasoned organic professionals’ success through ongoing learning and training. And so are we!

The Future Organic Farmers grant is just one program offered by the CCOF Foundation. Read more about their other grant programs and their Organic Training Institute on their website.


CCOF’s Future Organic Farmer Program

This awesome grant program gives $5,000 in scholarships to college and vocational students training for careers in organic. These grants are offered to students pursuing vocational training/certificate programs, junior college/two-year degree programs, bachelor’s/four-year and undergraduate degrees.

CCOF writes: Future Organic Farmer grants are an investment in our future food system. The more beginning farmers who pursue organic, the more we increase organic acreage and feed our communities organic food. We hear from our Future Organic Farmer grantees that this scholarship helped them pursue organic and gave them the confidence to succeed.

We couldn’t agree more.


Above: Rhyne Cureton (who also goes by the apt nickname “Pork” Rhyne”), a swine specialist and international advocate for small-scale agriculture, with rural pig farmers in East Africa (where he travels to train farmers on proper livestock husbandry and health, and farm profitability.)

Above: Future Organic Farmer Grant recipients Lehia Apana and Brad Bayless at Polipoli Farms, their farm on Maui, where they grow endemic and native species with traditional Hawaiian methods. Photo courtesy of CCOF. Read more about Lehia and Brad and their organic farm.














Aligned Missions for Planetary Health

“What if you could combat climate change, strengthen local economies, and improve health in our communities, all through one strategic initiative?”

We bet you can guess where this question from the CCOF website is leading: organic agriculture. We rely on agriculture to survive, and yet it’s also one of the biggest contributors to our current planetary health crisis. Good news: organic and regenerative agriculture methods are one of the most impactful ways we can reverse climate change!

True Organic founder, Jake Evans, started this company because he was devastated at how synthetic,
petroleum-derived chemicals were pervasive in our soil — and had depleted the soil of its natural ability to sequester carbon and retain water.





Learn more about the magic of carbon sequestration and how healthy soil (replenished by organic techniques) and save the planet. We are committed not only to serving agricultural organic produce growers with the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizer possible but also to helping preserve the planet. The more acres of farmland and gardens that are being tended with organic methods, the more we all benefit — the planet and our communities.




ccof foundation    ccof foundation

root vegetable recipes - True Organic

5 Easy, Delicious Root Vegetable Recipes for Winter

November 28, 2022


5  Easy, Delicious Root Veggie Recipes for Winter

‘Tis the season for all root veggies! While Winter can sometimes feel like an ebb in the abundance of garden harvests, root vegetables are having their moment in the sun. Beets, carrots, and potatoes are celebrated superstars of the Fall and Winter table: they store well for a long time, they’re dense with nutrients that your body needs, and cooking them in the oven makes a warm, cozy atmosphere for those blustery days.

Here are 5 fun recipes for the root veggies you dug up this year!


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Crispy Roasted Carrots with Parmesan and Garlic

Bored of roasted carrots? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wonderful way to make them zesty, crunchy, and fun enough that the whole family will want seconds. This delectable recipe from Cafe Delites is truly mouthwatering and so simple to make. It’s a perfect side dish for any dinner or for a holiday celebration.


  • 2 pounds carrots, washed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper as desired
  • Fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or rosemary, optional

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  • Halve carrots, length-wise (no need to peel, just give them a good scrub).
  • Spread carrots on baking sheet. Add rosemary or thyme, if using.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper as desired. Toss all ingredients together to completely coat the carrots.
  • Spread carrots out on the baking sheet so there is some space in between them, and they aren’t overlapping.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Toss with a spatula half way through.
  • Remove from oven and serve hot. Top with fresh parsley, as desired.

Everyday Beet Dip

Bright pink, creamy, zesty beet dip is a holiday gathering go-to. Impress your friends with this beautiful, flavorful side dish that can be used on wraps, sandwiches, salads, or, of course, with crudité or crackers.

The best part about beet dip is that it’s super adaptable; you can add your own favorite add spices or swap creamy thickeners (like yogurt, in the recipe below) with chickpeas to make a beet hummus. Try this recipe as a starting point and get creative!


  • 4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp chili chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place beets in a baking pan with ¼ cups of water. Cover with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes, or until tender.
  • Allow the beets to cool, then peel and cut in half.
  • Add beets, garlic, yogurt, olive oil and chili powder to food processor or blender and blend on pulse until smooth.
  • Garnish with feta cheese, parsley, and whatever else excites you!

Garnish ideas

  • Fresh herbs
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cheese
  • Shallots
  • Roasted garlic

Hungry for more beet recipes? Check out Food & Wine’s 27 amazing beet dishes!

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
root vegetable recipes - True Organic

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Potatoes

These gooey treats take baked potatoes to a whole new level. If you want to get really wild, add a cheese of your choice.


  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Make It!

  • Preheat to 500°F.
  • Toss potatoes, butter, oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Arrange potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan.
  • Roast potatoes for about 30 minutes or until browned, flipping once.
  • Remove from oven to add broth and half of the garlic. Return to oven and roast for about 15 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed and potatoes are tender.
  • Top with cheese and garlic, if desired. Allow to cool for a few minutes; serve hot!



Winter Vegetable Salad

Salad in the Winter? Yep! Get creative with crispy greens, winter fruit, and thinly sliced root veggies for that extra crunch (and nutrition). Here is a simple winter salad base and some suggestions for additions!

Make It!

Use a base of lettuce leaves like red oak and Little Gem and add:

  • Radicchio, chopped or torn
  • Fennel, shaved or very thinly sliced
  • Golden or red beets, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • White turnips, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange slices
  • Walnut, chopped, raw or roasted
  • Fresh Autumnal herbs like parsley or tarragon

Top with simple oil and vinegar or a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Yum!



- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Sweet Potato Hash

Turn your average potato brunch dish into a Fall favorite with sweet potatoes. This Food Network Recipe adds bacon, cinnamon, and cilantro for a savory-and-sweet flavor combination that will warm you up and make your tastebuds dance.


  • Extra-virgin olive oil to cook
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, optional
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Malt vinegar, for topping

Make It!

  • Remove jalapeño stem, seeds and ribs, cut into thin rings.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a sheet pan.
  • Lay the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the bacon to a cast-iron pan on medium heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the jalapeño rings to the bacon fat and fry until blistered and lightly browned. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer and season with cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add the bacon and jalapeños to the pan and fold to combine. Add a few shakes of malt vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

plant food ingredients

Liquid Plant Food Ingredients For Your Houseplants

November 11, 2022


The Plant Doctor Is In: Liquid Plant Food Ingredients That Support Your Houseplants

Despite growing up on a farm and being a real-life plant and soil scientist (with a Masters in Soil Science and PhD in Horticulture from Washington State University), Margaret McCoy admits that she never had any indoor plants until grad school.

“I needed a plant for a grad school project, and my advisor gave me a pothos. And I still have it!”

It was the first indoor plant Margaret kept alive, and it inspired her to start reconsidering her ability to care for houseplants. Before that inspirational pothos, she was never able to keep a houseplant from perishing.

“People were always giving me plants but I didn’t want them! I murdered them.”

So what changed for Margaret and her houseplants? Besides settling into a more permanent home (her homestead in South-Central Washington State), she says she learned more about taking care of them and forgiving herself when things didn’t work out.

“I have a rubber tree, I have a fiddle-leaf fig, I have a monstera…and they all need different things and sometimes I don’t know why a certain plant isn’t happy. I just try different things.”

And one of the major things that really makes a difference in your houseplants’ health is plant food ingredients! We sat down with Margaret to chat about how True Organic Liquid Plant Foods are your secret weapon when it comes to caring for your houseplants and potted garden.


What’s In The Bottle?

When you look at the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer, you’re seeing the available nutrients that will “feed” your plants.

But look closer and you’ll notice a “derived from” section on the label. These are the ingredients used to make the listed nutrients available for plants. It’s very similar to a nutrition label on packaged food: the ingredients are what deliver the listed nutrients (carbohydrates, vitamins, sugars, protein, etc.) to your body.

Let’s look at some of the common ingredients in our liquid plant foods and learn about what they deliver to your green friends.


Reduced Molasses Sugar & Sugar Beet Extract

Let’s start simple: with simple sugar, that is.

Yep, reduced molasses sugar and sugar beet extract are just what they sound like!

These plant food ingredients are sugar-water solutions that dose plants with a quick shot of nutrients for energy. This type of ingredient helps reduce transplant shock — a condition that can strike plants when they are moved to a new location or environment, or undergo physical harm.

Molasses is derived from sugarcane and you know it as a sweetener for gingerbread, cookies, and cinnamon buns. Sugar beet extract is, of course, derived from sugar beets. Both give plants a quick, easily “digestible” source of nutrients and stress-suppressing compounds.

They’re a source of easily digestible carbon and minerals for soil microbes, which enhances microbial activity and can improve nutrient uptake.

While they don’t provide a lot of ongoing nutrient support, these ingredients act like a sugary drink or “goo” that a long-distance athlete might use to boost their energy during an endurance race. That’s why this family of ingredients is contained in many of our plant foods!


Kelp extract

The ocean gives us this plant food ingredient. “Kelp makes plants really happy. It’s really good for plants that have a stress response or injury,” says Margaret McCoy.

Here’s how: Kelp contains growth hormones that can help regulate the growth of plants. The cytokine hormone mobilizes nutrients in plant leaves to improve the chlorophyll content and increase the growth rate and fullness of plants. It can also improve resilience in response to a variety of stressors and even support pest and disease resistance.



Potash, as a plant food ingredient, contributes potassium to plant food. While potash (pronounce “pot ash,” as in “potassium ash”) was originally produced from wood ashes and charcoal, it’s now typically mined from the underground deposits of evaporated sea beds.

The term “potash” usually refers to the overarching group of potassium-rich minerals as a whole; most of the potash delivers potassium in the form of Potassium Chloride (KCl). Like many other nutrients, potassium needs to be in the right form for soil microbes to break it down and plant roots to take it in.

Potassium is a huge helper to the overall quality and yield of crops. It protects plants from extreme temperatures, helps plants to fight stress, strengthens roots and stems, and helps enzymes support plants’ efficient use of water.


Soy Protein Hydrolysates

“Protein hydrolysates are essential amino acids that serve as a simple superfood,” says Margaret McCoy. They’re building blocks for plants, stimulating root growth and function, supporting cell structure, and promoting vegetative growth.

Plants use amino acids differently, and protein hydrolysates give them a needed boost of different types of amino acids.

Our exclusive soy protein hydrolysate blend is derived from organic soy beans and supplies a wide range of amino acids for both plants and soil microbes. (Plants can use the amino acids directly or use components like nitrogen and carbon for other critical parts of plant development.)

Soy protein hydrolysates are a super-star plant food ingredient that enhances nutrient availability and reduces the overall impacts of environmental stress (over-watering, heat, etc). That’s why this ingredient is in all of our Liquid Plant Foods!


Humic Acid

Humic Acid is a signature plant food ingredient in our Organic Liquid Preplant Starter. It stimulates root development — specifically fine roots used to scavenge nutrients and help improve water and nutrient uptake. And with improved root systems, plants can protect better against environmental stressors!


Grow Your Home Jungle!

Now that you’re briefed on how different plant food ingredients support plants, you may be eager to get going with fertilization. But be mindful: plants don’t need supplements during non-growth seasons (like in Fall and Winter), and it’s important to get to know your plants and what they need.

Research the varieties of houseplants you’re raising to learn more about what kind of plant foods they need. Get familiar with your plants’ appearances so you know when something is up, and they need a boost, a repotting, less water, or a new spot in the house.

And you can rest assured that every single True Organic product is certified food safe with the absolute highest standards. Learn more about our commitment to food safety and how we ensure the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizers on the market.


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

November 11, 2022


3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried


If you’ve been leaving apples for dessert and breakfast, think again. Sweet and savory is the ultimate flavor combo and apples provide just the right amount of sweet-tartness to make savory dishes unexpectedly awesome.

Besides being epically tasty and delightfully versatile, apples are packed with nutrients your body needs, like fiber, vitamin C (one apple contains around 10% of your recommended daily intake), and vitamins E, B1, and B6.

Apples also contain polyphenols: antioxidants that can protect against chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.


Leave the skin on apples when you can — it’s the part of the fruit most dense with fiber and polyphenols! With so many varieties of apples grown in the U.S. (about 2,500, in fact!) you’re about to embark on a flavor journey to delight your taste buds.

Apples On Horseback

By Grace Paris for Food & Wine

Here’s a super-simple yet elegant appetizer for gameday, holidays, and cocktail parties.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves 8


  • 16 thin slices of pancetta
  • 1 Pink Lady apple—peeled and cut into 16 wedges
  • 3 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
  • Rosemary sprigs or toothpicks for skewers

Make it!

  • Preheat a grill pan.
  • Lay out pancetta slices. Place an apple wedge and a cheese stick in the center of each slice.
  • Wrap the pancetta around the filling and secure with a rosemary sprig or toothpick.
  • Grill the skewers until the pancetta is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot


Butternut-Apple Soup

By Erin Clarke of Well Plated

This recipe, inspired by simple-and-rich French bistro food, uses tart apples, creamy squash, and fresh nutmeg to offer stunning Fall flavors and color.

The ingredients are plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find in the organic section! Plus, you can freeze and reheat this one for quick cold-season meals anytime.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 8




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped (about 3 cups total)
  • 2 large butternut squash about 5 pounds total, peeled and diced into chunks
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (use a mix of sweet apples, like McIntosh, and tart, like Granny Smith)
  • 3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Make it!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large, deep stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low. Add the onions and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the onions cook, cut and peel the squash and apples.
  • Add them to the pot, then add 2 cups of the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes depending upon how larger you cut your squash and apple pieces (smaller pieces will cook more quickly).
  • Once the apples and squash in the soup pot are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree in batches.
  • Return soup to the pot.
  • Add 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock, then stir, adding a bit more stock as needed to reach your desired consistency — thick and rick is best
  • Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Add more salt and pepper as desired.


Apple & Cheddar Quesadillas

We saved the best for last! This amazingly unexpected ingredient combination is a crowd-pleaser for potlucks and parties. The best part about this recipe is how creative you can get with addition! Bacon, chicken, or some leafy greens — bonus points if those greens are organically grown in your own garden!

Try a sweet, crisp apple variety like Fuji or Honeycrisp for this one.


  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Whatever else you want to add!

Make it!

Assemble sliced apples and cheese (and any additions) on a tortilla. Place on a lightly oiled pan or cast iron skillet. Top with another tortilla and grill until cheese is melted and tortillas.




- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

True Organic Cool Weather Gardening Checklist

October 25, 2022



Cool Weather Gardening Checklist

It might feel like Summer is hardly over, but it’s time to get busy with Fall garden tasks! Tomatoes are waning, and so is daylight — but there’s still plenty to do in the garden during the cooler months. It’s time to clear out those annuals, replenish your garden’s soil, and make things tidy. Working on your garden in early Fall will set you up for great success in Spring!


Know your Plant Hardiness Zone

Your own cold-weather gardening tasks, Fall crops, and what you’re harvesting in Fall will depend on your Plant Hardiness Zone — a standard set by the USDA to codify what types of plants do best in certain climates based on average climate temperatures.

Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your Zone.


Get in gear before the first freeze

You’ll want to get going before the first freeze in your area so the ground is soft enough to work with. As soon as the air starts to chill and several weeks before the first frost approaches, it’s time to retire that Summer garden and prepare for Winter.

Here are some go-to things you can do this season to get a head start on the most abundant Spring garden.


Time to pull up the annuals

Remove spent plants from your garden, making sure to remove the roots, too. You can throw them in the commercial compost bin or toss healthy (pest- and disease-free) plants in your backyard compost.

Got summer bulbs? While most bulbs are perennial, warm-weather bulbs won’t make it through a cold winter. (This depends on your gardening zone.) Remove those tender bulbs from the soil and set them in storage for next year.


Tidy up, weed, and turn soil

Rake your garden to clean up leaves and sticks. Put them in the compost bin or dispose. (But save good roasting sticks for bonfire s’mores!)

Fall is a great time to get very thorough with weeding. It’s tedious but will prepare you with pristine soil in the Spring.

It’s essential to turn soil in Fall if you want to have a healthy growing medium in Spring! Use a shovel to turn that well-worn soil, aerating and breaking up clumps.


Add twice-yearly soil supplements

And while you’re turning that soil, go ahead and add your choice of powerful single-ingredient organic fertilizers!

Biannual plant foods and soil supplements help replenish soil after those big growing seasons when soil can be left lacking in nutrients. Fall is the ideal time to feed soil with an organic fertilizer because nutrients will feed the soil all Winter.


What organic fertilizer should you choose this fall?

Plant cover crop

Nourish your garden’s soil with a cover crop! Cover crops will add organic matter and nutrients to soil and prevent erosion. Try a cover crop like rye or clover — it’s best to use annuals, not perennials, so you don’t get unwanted “volunteers” popping up in your Spring garden.


Enjoy the season of abundance!

Last-of-the-summer harvests and new fall crops can be some of the most delightful harvests: big squashes, full-bloom flowers, apples of all varieties, and perhaps even some final plump tomatoes (depending on your region).

Savor the Fall sun rays as you pick your last veggies, fruits, and flowers. There will be plenty more where that came from next year!