It is difficult to believe that this is our 73rd year in business. 73 years of growing plants directly from the grower to you. It has been a long windy road and as we have learned along the way, we have tried to have you learn along with us. I stood close to my very close friend Camille Perron at graduation day from Cornell University and he said to me congratulations and now we will go to the school of hard knocks and then we will really learn what it takes to grow plants. This proved to be so true. We have always been committed to providing our customers with information something which our Cornell education ingrained in us.

We started out by writing an informational catalogue in the early 60’s and some customers tell me they still use it as their bible. In those days we mailed 5,000 copies each year to our customers. Hang on to them as they have become a collector’s item. We then went with the times and switched to the internet. We are on our second informational web site “ Our present website archives Krautter’s Korner monthly recommendations and has many of our weekly garden feature articles posted on it.

These articles provide interesting and valuable garden tips to expand your horticultural knowledge. I published my first book “12 Steps To Natural Gardening” in 2012.  This 336 page book covers every aspect of organic Gardening. I poured everything I know into my chapters each one covering an important subject. I tried to make them short and concise providing you with the facts needed for your complete understanding of these subjects.  We have also printed a Garden Calendar something I always wanted to do. Sprainbrook has become not only a grower of great plants but a source for great gardening information. None of this happened without a great deal of effort and research on our part.

Read our weekly emails and try to follow our recommendations as we guide you through this year. Our timing steps are in chronological order and should be accomplished before moving on to the next ones. The phonological calendar is always more important than the monthly calendar. The season will move very quickly now as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. Customers who have signed up for our email but no longer receive our garden tips need to sign up again by going to At one point your filter filtered us out. By law once taken off we cannot put you back on unless you initiate the request which you can do by going to our website.

The chemical programs that we have followed since World War II are coming back to haunt us. Mechanization has become key to reducing labor. Genetically modified seeds have been introduced to develop superior varieties that can stand up to harsh weed killers; that will kill the weeds but not the plant. We are not sure that the same produce we have been eating for years is still the same as what we have eaten in the past. Our soils are being ruined with overuse of chemical fertilizers, our plants are weakened and the food web is being challenged.

The weakened plants require rigid spray programs to protect the crop from the ravages of insects and diseases. Small farmers are being bought out by big farmers who can afford huge combines and other large machinery that plant, harvest, feed and maintain the crop in the field. Spray booms and now drones apply pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on a daily basis. These are the methods that our Universities teach us will grow profitable crops. Marketing has become big business as it is important to sell product, Ready-to-use products that are at the expense of quality. Our food chain is broken and could potentially have a crippling effect. We need to get back to basics and grow our food in our garden naturally.  We can lead by doing this in our own back yard. We need to eat organically to encourage the small farmer to get back into the market place and grow local organic food.

I have now come up with a structure that provides year round organic vegetables. There is now no reason not to grow your own vegetables year round. The structure is animal proof has the ability to add a top and cover with plastic which generates its own heat through solar energy, compost energy and thermal energy. It is totally off of the grid. It has been tested for the last 3 years and has produced great crops of produce. It has been tested for last 3 year winters including a -10 degree day. It is self watering and truly an amazing structure.


Raised beds can be placed on any portion of your property and filled with a rich organic mixture of soil. Even soils that are too rocky or too poor to grow anything on can be productive areas to grow plants. Collectively we have a lot of land that can be utilized. Collectively we can make a difference in reducing organic food shortages and extracting CO2 from the air. If you are going to grow vegetables, now is the time to prepare your soils.

I have written an organic approach to every aspect of gardening. Organic gardening is the answer to turning around the terrible mess that chemicals have created. I have incorporated the organic programs into my book.  It will make each of you a successful organic gardener and a contributor to a better environment. Re read the pertinent chapters as they come up in your gardening experiences.  Pass this information on to others. I have been getting some great feedback from those who have read the book, followed my programs and have reported back amazing results. It is important that we follow good growing principles and a natural organic approach. Chemical programs and daily automated water systems are causing roots to remain on the surface rather than reach deep into the ground where they serve as strong anchors.


Spring came early but is now taking its time.  We need to work efficiently to catch up. Working outdoors in the fresh air, with the sun shining is an uplifting experience and can spur us on. To see our plants come into bloom and put out new growth builds our spirits. Plants are resilient, want to grow and spur us on. Hedges that are leaning over and are uprooted need to be replanted and straightened. Corrective pruning needs to take place. Spring is the time to take stock and put your garden back into shape. Pamper your plants. Feed them early to stimulate new growth. Add compost as an additional supplement;

Penobscot for acid loving plants and Lobster Compost for alkaline loving plants.  Make sure you mulch to a two inch depth.  Add Myke, a product full of mycorrhizal fungi, every time you plant or transplant.  Follow good organic practices throughout the year to keep your plants healthy and growing.

The organic movement in this country is growing. We have not been kind to the earth. The changes we need to make to go organic are easy. The schedule to follow is simple. The reasons to follow are compelling. There are four major reasons to go organic: Health, Environment, Plant Quality and Food. There is a growing concern that health issues are directly related to the addition of pesticides to our lawns and into our food chain. More and more studies on this subject point to an increase in cancers, neurological problems, birth defects, asthma, skin disorders, autism and many more. Dogs and cats are very vulnerable when playing on chemically treated lawns. Dogs double their chance of developing canine lymphoma. Children are the group at most risk. Golfers have a greater chance of incurring illness because of the heavy pesticide programs followed by most golf courses.

We do not have specific links to all products or illness but the red flags are there and the concern about a host of health problems keeps emerging. Concerned people are turning to the organic approach for answers. Google this problem and you can read hundreds of pages on this disturbing problem. There is also great concern for our environment. Our trees are developing shallow root systems and can’t stand up to heavy winds. Our streams and rivers are being polluted by the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Pesticides are killing the microbes in our soils. We have fish dying and ponds full of Algae blooms. Chemicals cause global warming, organics reduce global warming. Another pervasive problem is erosion. An effective solution to this problem is ground covers. Grass is one of our best ground covers. We need healthy organic lawns to sustain a healthy environment. Global warming is real and to sweep the scientific data as not being real is a dangerous philosophy to implore. Global warming is the most dangerous problem we face.

To summarize: The organic lawn is a superior lawn. It stands up better because of its superior root system. Most organic fertilizers are not water soluble, are broken down by the microbes in the soil and are directly released to the plant. This natural process makes them the ideal fertilizer. Organic products come from the earth and need to be recycled back into the earth. The food web develops an environment where roots thrive. The stronger the root system, the stronger the plant. Strong plants are essential to help purify the air.

Gardening organically is good for our environment and by following these programs we build sustainable gardens. The argument against chemical  fertilizers is that they weaken your plants, making them more prone to insects and diseases. The plants become chemically dependent and need their fix to survive. Each plant needs special formulas to thrive. They kill the microbes in your soil reducing the microbial population. In an organic soil, we feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants. The greater the mix of organics added, the greater the results.

Once these ingredients are broken down by the microbes, all plants will have what they need to survive and thrive. Our focus is on building up the immune system of the plant rather than focusing on cures. Organically grown plants remove CO2 from the air while chemically grown plants add to CO2 pollution. “12 Steps To Natural Gardening” spells out all of these steps. It is easy to read and easy to follow. It will answer most of your gardening questions.  Visiting the organic gardens we installed we are pleased to see that birds, butterflies and bees have returned. 12 years ago Sprainbrook Nursery changed its growing operation to organics.

We have learned a lot. We are using beneficials for insect and disease control and have fortified our soils with an even greater number of organic supplements. We have come across some incredible products yielding incredible results. There is nothing like the quality of an organically grown plant. The other advantage is an organically grown plant will not need to adjust to your soil and transplants with little or no shock. Good lawns are important to Westchester residents. Organics strive for the perfect lawn. It may require a three- five year program, but the results in the end are amazing.  A good lawn, in order to survive, needs a good deep root system with a rich organic soil. Follow our program and start seeing the results.  It is time to make the switch and go Organic.

April is the month when the plant juices are flowing and growth and flowering take place.  Cut back any dead stems down to the portion of the stem that is green, mineralize your soil, feed your plants with Plant-tone for alkaline loving plants and Holly-tone for acid loving plants, and keep them well watered and properly mulched.  Water is the most important ingredient in growing a good plant. Turn your outdoor water on early, make sure your outdoor sprinkling systems are on and pray for our traditional April showers not torrential downpours. Make sure everything is well mulched and if the rains don’t come, make sure adequate water is there for your plants as they start maturing with new spring growth.

It is important to start early and get your yard in order. Clean up any debris lying around from the year before to avoid breeding disease. Perennials should be cut back by now, fed, mulched, new beds prepared, transplants completed and new plants purchased and planted. Evergreens, Deciduous Trees and Shrubs should be fed and mulched.  Roses should have been pruned by now, fed, mulched, and beds totally cleaned of any of last year’s fallen leaves and new beds prepared.  Corn Gluten should be applied for crabgrass and weed control.



Mulch to a depth of 2 inches. Cleanliness is essential in Perennial beds. All dead tissue must be removed and plants should be cut back or trimmed as necessary. The beds should be clean of any leaves.  Fertilize with Plant- tone if you haven’t done so in March. This will supply your plants steadily with food during their growing period. Plant-tone has been fortified with additional microbes this year making it one of the best fertilizers on the market.

Before new growth takes place, divide existing plants that have become overgrown or transplant some to a new location in the garden. Mulching has tremendous benefits and we love Fundy blend nutritive mulch for perennial beds but do not exceed 2 inches in depth as you will smother your plants. New beds should be prepared by digging deeply and mixing into the soil the ingredients recommended in the ”Preparation of the Planting Bed.” This formula is the secret to developing a sustainable garden. Best of all, it’s time to plant perennials.  Select the right plant for the right location.  There are many microclimates on your property. If you pick the right plant, it will thrive. Ground cover can fill in bare areas, flowers can add color to an otherwise dull view and cut flowers can add color to the interior of your home.


(Azomite): 50 pounds covers 10,000 square feet. Mineralize your soil every three years.  Plants require more than fertilizer (NPK) and water for proper nutrition. Often plants are not able to produce healthy growth due to deficiency in key micro nutrients. The malnourished soil leads to weakened plants. Weakened plants lead to insect and disease problems.  Applying mineral rock dust mimics the actions of Mother Nature by replacing minerals once spread by glaciers, flooding and wind. Using mineral rock dust on your land is a sound organic practice beneficial to living soil. The results are astounding and speak for themselves. Optimal organic soil produces prime, healthy plants. This product provides the soil with a large variety of minerals which re-mineralize depleted soils and improve soil structure.


Make sure your beds are clean of any leaves or dead tissue. If you did not fertilize in March, make sure evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs are fed with PLANT-TONE or HOLLY-TONE If you need to transplant, do it before new growth takes place. Now that the ground is workable, it is an ideal time to purchase and plant nursery stock.  For new plants, check the watering twice a week and more frequently during the heat of summer. Make sure your evergreens are well mulched but do not bury them. Flowering trees, fruit trees and shade trees should also be fed with Plant-Tone.  Using a crow bar to make a hole and adding an organic fertilizer into the hole can also be very beneficial. Before new growth starts, transplant. For the installation of a new plant follow our Organic Approach to planting a tree.  When planting, always make sure the soil level of the plant matches the soil level of the ground.

Never plant too deeply but rather slightly high. Dig your hole three times the size of the root ball and mix 1/3 peat moss or , 1/3 organic compost, Myke and Plant-tone into the soil mix.  Make sure Plant-tone is mixed into the soil so that beneficial microbes come in contact with the roots. Add Myke for additional Mychorrhizal fungi which are of special interest to us. They affect the root’s ability to survive,  reducing transplant shock and ensuring the plant’s ability to acclimate. Fill the soil on the side, packing it tightly to prevent air pockets.

Make sure soil is not packed above the existing root ball.  Top dress with a ¼ inch  Penobscot Blend.  Apply Plant-tone, an organic fertilizer to the surface. A two inch layer of mulch completes the planting.  Water your plants well for the first five days and then soak your root system twice a week. Make sure you always plant soil level to soil level; planting too deeply will cause the plant to die a slow death.


Apply Rose-tone using 1 cup per bush. This is an organic fertilizer that addresses both soil health and plant nutrition.  Mineralize your soil. Plants require more than fertilizer (NPK) and water for proper nutrition. Often plants are not able to produce healthy growth due to deficiency in key micronutrients. The soil is malnourished leading to weakened plants. Weakened plants lead to insect and disease problems.  Paramagnetic rock use is gaining popularity for its positive influence on soil and plants. Spray roses with Foliar Ecolizer EM every 2 weeks for disease control.  Roses should have been pruned by now and winter protection removed. Beds need to be totally cleaned of last year’s leaves which will carry the spores for black spot.  Buy and plant new Roses.  Knock Out Roses are gaining in

popularity as they are more disease resistant and survive with a half day of sun.  If you give roses the proper location and proper bed preparation, they will reward you for many years.


Apply Corn Gluten as found in Jonathan Green Crabgrass Control. Apply this when  Forsythias are in bloom.   Crabgrass is an annual which occurs in sunny locations and tends to take over. It usually occurs where you have had a crabgrass problem in the past.   If you need to do patching, seed over the barrier by applying a thin layer of top soil. Corn Gluten will support root growth. However if you need to do a major re-seeding project, do not apply Corn Gluten as it will also prevent grass germination.  Moss is an indication of an acidic soil. Moss and weeds grow better at a low PH while grass grows better at a PH of 6.5 -7. Add Mag-I-Cal if your PH is too low.


Wooly Adelgids continue to be prevalent on Hemlocks. Those who have been following a spray schedule have been successful. Dormant oils in spray form give the best control.  As your Apple trees leaf, spray Sulfur as the organic control for Cedar Apple Rust and Apple Scab.   Keep a vigilant eye out for other potential problems and treat early.


Deer are becoming an increasing problem. These are several suggestions for those living in deer country.  Use deer repellents.  Best control for deer is to affect two of their senses.  We recommend that you use Deer Scram to repel them by smell and Deer Stopper to repel them by taste.  Familiarize yourself with plants that deer do not like to eat. Refer to our helpful lists.  Try to break their path by forming barriers to their grazing route.   Three rows of thin fishing line strung at different heights from tree to tree can act as a deterrent.  If you can’t take it anymore, think of putting up a fence. Fencing in your back yard and leaving your front yard open is a good solution. Plant an evergreen hedge on the inner side of your fence. Stick to deer resistant plants for the front yard while treating yourself to all of your favorites in the back.


ACHILLEA ‘Moonshine’

AGASTACHE ‘Blue Fountain’




COREOPSIS verticillata ‘Moonbeam’




HOSTA sieboldiana‘Elegans’


MONARDA ‘Raspberry Wine’

NEPETA fassinii ‘Blue Wonder’


PEROVSKIA atriplicifolia, Platycodon

RUDBECKIA fulgida ‘Goldsturm’

SALVIA ‘Ost Friesland’

SEDUM ‘Autumn Joy’

SCABIOSA  columbaria

VERONICA ‘Sunny Border Blue’


The formula transforms  the worst possible soil to the best possible soil. Per 100 square feet dig in and mix to a depth of one foot. This is the formula to build a sustainable garden.

Per 100 square feet dig and mix into the top one foot area:

1 bale of Peatmoss 3.8 cubic feet.

1 block of Coir

2 bags of Lobster Compost: 40lb bags.

2 bags of Penobscot mix: 40 lb bags.

2 bags of Cow Manure 20lb 

2 bags of Black Earth top soil

1 lb Mineral Rock Dust

5 pounds of garden Lime

5 pounds of Bone Meal

8 pounds of Plant Tone (Espoma)

1 Myke 15 oz.

*Note for vegetable garden use 3 Lobster and 1 Penobscot