Worlds Best Compost
Organic Gardeners Composting
Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.
Yeah, I also talk about compost in the fertilizer section, but compost is useful and necessary to your garden in so many ways other than as plain fertilizer. Because it's organically rich, with good texture, compost is just about the best thing you can add to soil. What works best really depends on the type and fertility of your native soil, but you can't go wrong digging in quite a lot of compost. Compost lightens heavy clay soil and gives needed substance to sandy soil. Less-extreme soils can still benefit. In any event, half-compost and half-native soil isn't excessive. Some really keen vegetable gardeners forgo native soil altogether and use 100 percent compost to grow incredible crops. Using solely compost is most feasible in raised beds. Roots relish it. You can get healthier, happier plants. Don't use soggy or overly dry compost. Compost should be fully decayed, dark in color and crumbly in texture. This issue is more significant with homemade compost than the bagged,...
Perhaps you've been wondering why so many vegetable gardeners have compost piles. The short answer is that it's downright sensible. Compost is a bountiful and free source of organic matter, which vegetables adore and consume like crazy. To have it always handy when you need it is unbeatable. Compost is a pile of organic waste that breaks down into rich, dark, crumbly material that jubilant gardeners call black gold It's an excellent way to add humus to your garden, and it also acts as a natural, slow-release fertilizer. You also get to feel virtuous and efficient because you're not sending perfectly useful materials away with the household garbage. Store-bought compost, bag for bag, may not strike you as terribly expensive, but it really starts to add up when you're starting or caring for a vegetable garden. You're better off making your own. And hey, it's easy. Okay, here's the short course on creating compost for your vegetable garden. If you have need of mountains of compost or get...
Sure, you can buy a compost bin, but if you have an open spot that gets sun yet is out of the way, setting up a homemade one is easy. Plan for your bin to be about 4 feet in diameter smaller piles don't heat up well, slowing decomposition. See Chapter 4 for more information on using compost.
If you don't want to dig out a weed patch to make way for a garden patch, take a lesson from California organic gardener Carrie Teasdale. She makes an on-site compost pile that not only provides humus for her garden but smothers weeds as well. Choosing a site where weeds are growing makes sense, Carrie says. If there are weeds growing, that's a good place for a garden. She lets her on-site compost cook for several months, noting that the hotter the weather, the quicker it will break down.
Compost is decomposed plant debris prepared by gathering refuse material in a heap to hasten the decay of the material and reduce its bulk. The heat produced in the heaped mass of garbage, plant residues, herbivore dung and kitchen and municipal waste kills pests, mesophilic microorganisms and drives off toxic ammonia. The process of production of organic manure by composting is an unwitting exploitation of thermophilic microorganisms. A similar exploitation of thermophilic fungi is in the preparation of substrate for the cultivation of the edible mushroom Agaricus bisporus. A mixture of herbivore dung and straw is composted to give the material a physical texture that favors the growth of mushroom mycelium. Thermophilic fungi, in particular Scytalidium thermophilum (syn. Torula thermophila, Humicola grisea var. thermoidea, Humicola insolens), play a dominant role in the preparation of mushroom compost (Straatsma and Samson, 1993). The majority of the about 30 currently known species...
Just follow the label directions for spacing, a nd dig a hole deeper and wider than the root ball. Add some compost to the hole or mix the native soil with organic matter (see Chapter 4 for details). If desired, you can add some dry fertilizer in the planting hole and water it in, or you can fertilize the annual after planting (check out the upcoming Fertilizing section).
In composting plant material, the hydrolysis of polysaccharide constituents by the secreted enzymes is expected to produce a mixture of sugars in the growth environment of thermo-philic fungi. One of the adaptive strategies for their growth could be the simultaneous utilization of a mixture of sugars. To test this, the thermophilic fungi Thermomyces lanug-inosus and Penicillium duponti were grown in a mixture of glucose and sucrose in liquid media (Maheshwari and Balasubramanyam, 1988). Both fungi concurrently utilized glucose and sucrose at 50 C, with sucrose utilized faster than glucose (Figure 10.6). This is quite the opposite of the phenomenon of diauxy observed in bacteria that utilize one carbon source at a time, e.g., glucose is utilized before lactose in a mixture of the two sugars. The simultaneous utilization of sucrose in the presence of glucose occurred because invertase is insensitive to catabolite repression by glucose and because the activity of the glucose uptake...
The hole should be slightly deeper and wider than the pot the herb is currently in. Add a little compost or other organic material to the bottom of the hole for the roots to grow into, and scrape the sides of the hole to loosen them, which encourages the herb's root system to grow beyond its current size.
The latest breakthrough in hydroponic mediums are these molded starter sponges made from organic compost and a flexible, biodegradable binder. Available in many shapes and sizes, they solve the problem growers face when wanting to use an organic medium in a hydroponic system. Namely, they do not fall apart as does rockwool and vermiculite when used to start seeds. The starting sponges exhibit perfect air to water holding capacity and when used in conjunction with their high density foam startingtrays, force roots to grow directly downwards instead of spiraling around as do many other types of starting trays.
In this process water and oxygen pass into the root structure through membranes in the cell walls. An interesting point is that diffusion actually takes place at the ionic level which in laymen's terms means that nutritional elements are passed by the electrical exchange of charged particles. This is always my first line of defense against those who claim that hydroponics is unnatural and isn't organic because plants grown that way aren't fed organic nutrients. Foolish to say the least - the bottom line is that roots can ONLY uptake PURE ELEMENTS and a hydroponic system is a much cleaner environment than their compost pile.
Grass clippings make great fertilizer, according to Cyane Gresham, compost specialist at the Rodale Institute Experimental Farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Cyane says that it's a crime to waste grass clippings by bagging them up for disposal with household trash because they're such a terrific organic source of nitrogen and other nutrients. Grass clippings should never leave your property. They are too valuable as a mulch and fertilizer for the lawn, gardens, and landscape,'' Cyane explains.
Feed the soil, and the soil will feed your plants. That's one of the basic tenets of organic gardening. In most cases, an annual application of rich compost or well-aged manure will provide enough nutrients and organic matter to sustain your plants all through the growing season. Even so, your garden will probably need a quick pick-me-up from time to time. That doesn't mean that you have to run out to the garden center and drop some cash on an expensive fertilizer. Chances are you have the ingredients for making your own inexpensive, earth-friendly plant food right at hand. We've polled garden experts from around the country for their favorite fertilizer formulas. Many of these fertilizer mixes, blends, and solutions provide more than the big three nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They also include vital mi-cronutrients, plant growth hormones, soil conditioners, and even disease and insect fighters. Some of these time-tested fertilizer formulas include traditional,...
Whether you're using store-bought or natural fertilizer, such as compost or manure, most plants like to be fertilized at planting time, just to get off to a good start. Thereafter, you may fertilize again on a monthly basis. Reduce or stop when fall's cooler weather arrives. Fertilizer inspires fresh new growth, and you don't want that then fall is a time for plants to slow down and approach dormancy, and cold weather can damage new growth. (You should, however, feed the lawn in autumn to stimulate root growth feeding grass in More is not better (Though if you're fertilizing with compost, using too much is almost impossible see the next section.) Plant fertilizer is like aspirin. The right amount is beneficial too much is harmful. So don't get carried away. Remember that some fertilizers are types of salt, and high concentrations of any salt can kill plants. Always read the label and follow the directions carefully. To get the amounts right, you may have to pull out the tape measure...
Boron toxicity symptoms are similar for most plants. Generally, they consist of marginal and tip chlorosis, which is quickly followed by necrosis (58). As far as boron toxicity is concerned, it occurs chiefly under two conditions, owing to its presence in irrigation water or owing to accidental applications of too much boron in treating boron deficiency. Large additions of materials high in boron, for example, compost, can also result in boron toxicity in crops (59,60). Boron toxicity in arid and semiarid regions is frequently associated with saline soils, but most often it results from the use of high-boron irrigation waters. In the United States, the main areas of high-boron waters are along the west side of the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys in California (61).
1 Organic matter The organic matter in potting mix is typically some or all of the following dried manure, compost, peat moss, and finely ground bark. It adds nutrients to the soil. Yes, you can create your own soil mix, but it's not really a matter of saving money, because you have to purchase individual ingredients separately and then mix them. It's certainly not a matter of saving time, either. What it is, my friend, is a matter of control. When you make your own mix, you can make sure every bit of it is of good and consistent quality. Best of all, you can customize. If the store-bought mix seems too heavy, you can easily lighten it by stirring in some more perlite or some finely ground bark. And of course, you can make a blend that's more acidic or more alkaline as need be. The most commonly available bark is composted, hardwood, fir, or pine bark all are fine to use. 7. Cover the soil with a layer of mulch (shredded bark, compost, wood chips, for example). This will keep the soil...
Tropical plants should be hauled out of the pond and tossed onto the compost pile. Or if you want to overwinter them indoors, get the details from wherever you bought the plants or try to find a more experienced water gardener to help you. Some tropicals can stay in heated aquariums you can strip others of all growth and store their little tubers or rhizomes in damp sand.
Although each type of herb has its own growing requirements, it's pretty safe to say that most herbs are unfussy plants. Most prefer full sun. Most prosper in good, moderately fertile soil. And most require that the soil be well-drained so they get the moisture they need to grow but don't suffer from wet feet. If your chosen site is lacking in any of these requirements, take steps to improve it. Clip back overhanging trees and shrubs. Add organic matter such as compost and or dampened peat moss, as well as some sand to poor soil to improve its texture. (See Chapter 4 for more information.)
It's easier to keep your plants disease-free than to try to cure them once they're infected. The best way to ensure your plants' health is to provide a healthy, fast-draining soil and appropriate growing conditions. Organic matter is the key to soil health and good drainage, so make sure that your soil has plenty. (See Soil Improvement and Soil Mix Formulas, beginning on page 56, for recipes for building healthy soil.) If you're growing fruits and vegetables, be sure to clear out plant debris after your harvest so that you don't give diseases a place to camp out, waiting for spring to strike again. (Don't work in the garden when plants are wet because water is a great disease conductor.) Compost any healthy material you remove from your plants, but be sure to throw any diseased leaves or stems into the garbage.
Book all use GroRox as a growing medium and only the hydroponic planter design uses a significant quantity. We have had excellent results with both 1 rockwool cubes and loose cocofiber as a starting medium, vermiculite and pearlite work very well too. Just recently, a new starting medium was introduced that is being called soil free sponges (I'm sure a neato trade name will be soon to follow ) - we've been testing them here for FutureGarden.com and have found them to be a real winner. The sponges are made from organic compost that is molded into small squares and cone shapes using a biodegradable binder. The advantage to using these sponges are that they allow the hydroponic grower to utilize an organic medium for starting seeds and rooting cuttings without the risk of it breaking apart and falling into the reservoir like cocopeat and perlite will do. See the chapeter on hydroponic mediums for more info. Avoid using soil as it is not sterile and may contain diseases and or pests that...
Don't toss the pieces back in the water where they can break down and foul and water Add them to the compost pile or dig them straight into a vegetable-garden's soil. For potentially invasive floaters and submerged plants, play it safe and add them and their prunings to the household garbage.
Amending the planting hole is usually a good, practical idea. If you know your yard's soil isn't that great, or if your new shrub has a particular soil requirement (for instance, rhododendrons prefer acidic soil), by all means, make soil adjustments. The rule of thumb is half native soil and half organically rich amendments (which can be any or all of the following topsoil, compost, dehydrated manure, loam, or slightly moistened peat moss). Chapter 4 has more info on soil amendments.
Although not an essential garden tool, many gardeners come to find that a garden fork is quite handy and more agile than a spade or shovel for some digging jobs. You drive this shovel-size tool into the soil and then pull back on the handle and rock it to break and loosen soil. It's useful for digging up bulbs and root crops, including onions and potatoes. It's also good for scooping jobs (moving compost or hay from one spot to another, for instance). Garden forks tend to be shorter than pitchforks and have shorter, flatter tines.
As the temperature begins to rise in a compost heap, the mesophilic microflora is succeeded by thermophilic microflora (Hedger and Hudson, 1974). Therefore, the availability of soluble carbon sources (sugars, amino acids and organic acids) will decrease and the carbon source available to thermophilic fungi will mainly be the polysaccharide constituents of the biomass, chiefly cellulose and hemicelluloses. Not surprisingly, thermophilic fungi are therefore especially well adapted for polysaccharide utilization. The growth rate of the thermophilic fungus Sporotrichum thermophile on cellulose (paper) is similar to that on glucose (Bhat and Maheshwari, 1987). Chaetomium thermophile and Humicola insolens grew better on xylan than on simple sugars (Chang, 1967).
Nine species of crocodiles are mound nesters. The female gathers together a heap of vegetation, soil, and compost using her legs and jaws. She compacts the mound by crawling over it and then excavates a hole on the top in which to lay her eggs. Mound nesters lay their eggs at the start of the wet season, and the young hatch when the water is highest, a time when there is plenty of small prey.
Whether their presence in soil is because of their growth therein or a consequence of dissemination of their spores from compost heaps that occur world-wide has not been easy to resolve since the opaqueness of soil precludes microscopic examination of fungal growth. Therefore, several indirect approaches have been taken to assess soil as a habitat of thermophilic fungi. Eggins et al. (1972) used a soil immersion tube (Figure 10.3) for discriminating the mycelial form from the dormant spores. A cellulose paper strip (a source of carbon) was enclosed inside a screen of glass fiber and placed in soil so that only the active mycelium could penetrate through the screen and colonize the substrate. The tubes were removed from the soil at intervals and the paper strips plated on cellulose agar to determine if these were invaded by mycelium from the soil. By this method the thermophilic fungi Humicola grisea and Sporotrichum thermophile were detected in the...
Roots grow out of the bottom of the bulb, so the quality of the soil underneath it is more important than what you pack the hole with. If you're amending the soil with organic material like compost or sphagnum moss (see Chapter 4), dig somewhat deeper-than-recommended holes so you can accommodate this addition.
Organic matter is any material that originates from a living (well, once-living) creature you can dig this matter into your soil, and as the material decays, it improves the soil's condition. Examples of organic matter include compost, dehydrated manure (never fresh, which burns the plants), chopped-up fall leaves, peat moss (which is most effective if pre-dampened), ground-up bark, and so on. You may have some of this stuff on hand, or you can certainly buy it bagged. See Chapter 4 for more information.
I hope this book is fun reading Sometimes gardeners can get way too serious about this pursuit. I've always felt that gardening is supposed to relieve anxiety, not add to it. After all, this is gardening, not brain surgery Making a mistake (and you will) is not a big deal. Gardens can recover quickly from our bumbling efforts to care for them. My main mission in this book is to bring you gardening success and the inimitable pleasure that comes from it. It's no fun if all your efforts end up in the compost pile.
Although usually a hole nester, the female American crocodile may make a mound nest of sand, vegetation, and compost. The breeding season is late April to early May in Florida. In South America the breeding season is March to May. They lay 30-60 eggs, which hatch in 80-90 days, depending on incubation temperature. The female crocodile guards her nest, assists the hatchlings, and thereafter protects them from predators. Juveniles appear to disperse from the vicinity of the nest site within a few days.
The compost in Eliot Coleman's seed-starting mix will help prevent damping-off, a fungal disease that infects seedling stems and causes the young plants to fall over and die. Other steps to prevent damping-off include Providing good air circulation. Run a small fan near the pots and don't plant seeds too thickly.
Malcolm Beck of San Antonio, Texas, knows compost. He is the author of The Secret Life of Compost, and he manufactures and sells up to 100,000 cubic yards of it every year. Malcolm believes that compost solubles (the materials that are released when you make the compost tea) are the best part of the pile. He says that these dissolved minerals, microbes, hormones, and other ingredients in compost tea feed the plants, act as a general tonic, and also discourage some pests and diseases. So he makes a simple but effective tea from compost and uses it to feed his plants regularly.
The majority of vines prefer fertile soil that's neither too soggy nor too dry. Obviously, prepared ground is important so that the roots can establish themselves and expand without running into obstructions, so it's always wise to prepare the spot ahead of time Dig down about a foot and mix in some compost, humus, or rotted manure.