Saturday, June 20, 2009

Organic Gardening - I Don't Have Enough Weeds

Whats wrong with this picture? All I see is a lot of beneficial, nitrogen rich, organic material that I can put to good use in my compost bins. This is an area that I am planning on planting strawberries in next spring. I have the hills all ready and waiting to be planted. While this area is just on hold I let the weeds grow and harvest them for my composting.

Weeds are thought to be a gardeners worse enemy. As an organic gardener, I can't get enough of them. They are a great source of green organic matter to be added to a compost pile when they are harvested at a young age, before they develop seed.

Once your garden is planted in the spring and your compost bins are full of debris from your garden or yard that you cleaned last fall, you need nitrogen rich organic material to add to it to start you new hot compost pile. Weeds are a great source and one that most never have a shortage of. Spring and summer are the best time to put this material to a good use and compost the material you need for mulching your garden beds in the fall and to have the organic matter needed to improve your gardens soil structure in the spring when needed for planting.

When composting weeds, it is best to use a hot method. This is best done in a bin that is at least 4 foot wide by 4 foot deep and 4 foot high. Once the proper layering of organic matter is done, carbon/nitrogen ratio, it is also a good choice to cover the pile to keep as much heat in the pile that you possibly can. I use a 4 bin system, each bin is 5 foot wide by 10 foot deep and 5 feet high and turn the pile to the next closest bin every two to three weeks. Once the pile is in the last bin it is a finished, a nutrient rich humus that is ready to use. If you don't have the room for a bin system, there are many self contained composting systems on the market that can be used and will create a hot compost.

The main concern with composting weeds is seed. Pulling or cutting them before they develop seed and perennial weed roots need to be dried or soaked until they rot before composted to prevent any chance of them regrowing in the compost.

With the proper carbon/nitrogen ratio, moisture content and the proper turning of your compost pile, you can successfully turn the unwanted weeds from your yard and garden into a healthy, nutrient rich, humus material that will greatly benefit your organic garden.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mulching Existing Trees in Your landcape

Mulching the trees in your landscape with an organic mulch is a great way to improve the soil structure around them, allowing water and nutrients to easily reach there root system.

Before you mulch there is a little preparation that needs to be done. Small to mid size trees should be mulch to about the drip line of the tree, this is how far out there root system travels. Mark out the area that you are going to be applying the mulch. This is best done by taking a tape measure and marking the distance around the tree with something visible on the grass, like garden lime.

Next you need to take a shovel and cut the grass along the marking and completely remove any sod and weeds. When removing the sod, you only need to scrap about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the surface off, don't dig down. Take the shovel and slide it under the grass. If the area is hard, you can soak it the night before to loosen the soil and make it easier to remove.

Once you have the area prepared, you can apply a 3 to 4 inch layer of compost or a organic mulch of your choice, this tree here is mulched with compost.

Water Gardens

A water garden is a great way to add a relaxing atmosphere to your backyard. The sound of running water, fragrance of a water lily or the contrasting foliage of water plants. The attraction of wildlife such as birds, toads, dragonflies and butterflies are also a site to see.It makes for a beautiful get away in your own yard to sit, relax and watch natures beauty.

There are many ways you can create a water garden. The most popular are built with a plastic liner. These liners comes in PVC, Butyl Rubber, or Polyethylene materials and are safe for fish and plants. There are a various thicknesses that range from 20 - 45 mils and usually have a life span of anywhere from 10-20 years.

When you are shopping for a liners, avoid ones that have been treated with an algicide inhibitor. These inhibitors can be harmful to the natural plant and animal balance that occurs in a water garden pond.

Other types of water garden ponds that can be purchased as a kit are prefabricated fiberglass ponds. These can be considerably more expensive.Then there is the concrete installed ponds.They come in may different designs and can also be custom made just to your personal preference. Due to the amount of concrete mix and reinforcement needed to avoid cracking, these are usually ponds that are hired out to a professional contractor.

You can design your own pond and build it from just about any type of tub formed item that you have available. Old bathtubs, watering troughs from farm animals, etc. Let your imagination take it's course and see what you can design.

It is a great do-it-yourself project that can usually be done in one weekend, depending on the size and how creative you want to get. The ideas are endless, fountains, waterfalls, lights and plants can be incorporated in your design. Water is the most magical feature of a water garden.The rewards are great. It can also boost the value of your property.