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Minnesota gardener brings expertise to Tea

Fertile, Minn., author and nurseryman Eric Bergeson made a stop at the Tea City Park last week to visit with local gardeners.

Bergeson spent 11 days this month traveling to communities across the state talking about gardening and growing trees. On the day he stopped in Tea, he had also made stops in Brandon, Harrisburg, Canton and Beresford. He also promoted his book, “Successful Gardening on the Northern Prairie.”

He owned Bergeson Nursery in Fertile for 17 years before recently selling it to his brother and sister-in-law. His grandfather started the business in 1936.

In Tea, he addressed a crowd of about 20 who had many questions from trees to flowers to mulch.

Bergeson noted that our climate is much different than other parts of the country where a lot of the potting mix and fertilizer comes from. This region has alkaline soil and needs different things than other parts of the country that are more acidic.

“When the alkalinity rises, the nutrients that are in your soil are locked up and unavailable to the plant,” he said.

He said all growers have to do is lower the pH level in the soil. He suggested the use of ammonium sulfate.

“It is the only fertilizer we have used on our existing plants for years,” he said.

The No. 2 problem with soils in the Northern Prairie is the lack of organic matter. He said the solution is under our noses in sedge peat from here.

“Sedge peat is cattails that have been decomposed not 10, 20 years but hundreds of years,” he said.

It is harvested in Montana, northern Minnesota and Canada. Bergeson uses sedge peat 6 inches on top of the ground.

“It’s from here and we need it. It works,” he said.

He also suggested using time-release fertilizer beads that they mix in the soil.

“If you get those two things right, the fertilizing on high pH soils and adding humus in moderation. I say in my book all things in moderation except for peat,” Bergeson said.

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