|Posted by Beuna Tomalino on December 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
There is sometimes confusion between mulch and compost.
Mulch refers to material that goes on top of the ground. Mulch can be natural such as bark, gravel, or compost, or manmade such as landscape fabric or recycled tire rubber mulch. Never use regular plastic except on a temporary basis since water will pool, stink and breed mosquitoes. Mulches such as bark and compost can feed the soil but need to be renewed regularly. Gravel and landscape fabric can last longer although landscape fabric is usually covered with something such as bark or gravel. Gravel can collect trash and weeds and reflect heat back to the house or yard which may or may not be desirable.
The purposes of mulch can include water retention, soil cooling, soil warming, weed suppression, soil enrichment, and/or frost protection for plant roots or soil.
When using rock or rubber mulches I would recommend using heavy duty landscape fabric underneath. The cheaper plastic fabrics do not hold up as well and the rubber mulches will be difficult to remove if they get mixed in with your soil.
Landscape fabric does not prevent weeds - it just reduces them. Soil and weed seeds can accumulate on top allowing weeds to begin growing. As soon as you see a weed take care of it so you do not end up with a weed patch on top of your landscape fabric.
Compost is decomposed organic matter or manures. The best types of compost are those made with a variety of materials including manures of herbivores (chickens, sheep, rabbits, etc), leaves, straw, vegetable peelings, and other plant material. For more information on home composting see my blog entry.
Compost can be used as mulch but is often also mixed with soil or applied to the surface just for the purpose of improving soil. Since compost is organic matter it can improve your soil whether it is sandy, clay, or just lacking in nutrients. Peat moss is sometimes used but has no nutritional value, is usually more expensive, and non renewable so compost is a better choice. I like to add compost to my gardens, flower beds, lawn, and potted plants. Our soils in Utah are lacking in organic matter so compost is a wonderful thing to add for soil improvement. Compost is the main component of a Square Foot Garden mix.
|Posted by Beuna Tomalino on December 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
Compost is fantastic for soil improvement - adding organic matter, nutrients, and microorganisms to your soil.
A variety of items can be added to your compost pile including: spoiled vegetables and fruits and vegetable and fruit peelings, plant debris, prunings, straw, leaves, bedding from vegetarian pets, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, cotton fabric, cardboard and paper – not slick – although it may be better to recycle paper in another way. You can also add manures from rabbits, cows, horses, goats, poultry, or sheep.
Ideal proportions would be 2/3 brown or dry (dried leaves, straw, etc) to 1/3 wet or green (vegetable peelings, spoiled fruit). If your compost pile is smelly it is because the proportions are wrong, your pile is too wet, or you have added things that should not be in a compost pile.
There are some items that should not be put into a compost pile: meat, bones, fat, dairy, manures or litter from carnivores including dogs and cats. Ammonium sulfate is not needed for the composting process and I feel defeats the purpose because of the harm it can cause to microorganisms.
Compost piles need air and moisture. Water may need to be added to keep a pile moist or your compost may need to be protected from rain to prevent your pile from becoming too wet.
Turning the pile helps provide air to the pile and will help the composting process to occur faster. Turned once per week your compost may be ready in a month or so.
To learn more about composting including various methods for outdoor and indoor composting sign up for my free gardening lessons and weekly garden tips.
|Posted by Beuna Tomalino on October 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM||comments (0)|
A list of things to do in the Fall:
Start Compost Pile
Fertilize with organic lawn fertilizer– helps root growth over winter
Apply pre emergent – corn gluten meal– prevents weed seeds from germinating
Remove leaves from lawn – mow,mulch, compost
Topdress with compost
Seed or overseed lawn
Mow until the first frost
Lower mower height for the last mowingto 1 ½ – 2”
Water until first hard frost
Winterize sprinkler system – shutoff, drain
Drain and store hoses
Garden Beds, Shrubs, Trees
Cut back perennials if brown, remove annuals and weeds – add all except weeds to the compost pile (can be done in Spring if you prefer)
Clean out vegetable garden whenever youare done or around first frost/before first hard frost – pick,sell, preserve, or donate produce
Divide and/or transplant perennials
Plant perennials, shrubs, trees
Plant spring flowering bulbs
Plant fall flowers, vegetables, andannuals – pansies, mums, lettuce, spinach, peas, kale
Wrap bark of young trees – helps to prevent sunscald, cracking, deer damage
Wrap evergreens with burlap if desired
Water trees, shrubs, perennials until the ground freezes
Trees and shrubs - Prune dead or broken only
After first frost – mulch plants which might frost heave – use straw or leaves
Remove fallen fruit – compost
Prepare Square Foot Garden beds
Overwinter geraniums indoors if youwant to save them for next year - dig up and place in a brown paper bag, replant in the spring or grow inside in a pot all winter
Prepare tender plants to move indoors
Clean out underneath lawn mower - disconnect spark plug first
Add fuel stablizer to gas cans and gas powered equipment if there is gasoline inside
Check mower blades – need replaced or sharpened?
Check hand tools – need replaced or sharpened?
Wipe hand tools with steel wool or a damp cloth and apply oil or store in sand/motor oil mix
Be sure all batteries are charged
Check extension cords for cuts, frays,etc
Cedar shredded bark around foundation - insect prevention
Orange Guard or similar spray around foundation - insect prevention
Hang Christmas lights - before snow fall
Plan garden for next year
Write down successes, failures,varieties you liked, etc
Check online for catalogs – order those you want to receive
Learn from books, classes, pruning demonstrations so you are better prepared next year