Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cool Tips To Help with Your Cucumber & Tomato Plants

When growing in small spaces or areas it can be hard to find room to grow cucumbers so here is what they do. they hang these http://shop.simplyhydro.com/Reel-Enz-Plant-Support-Spools_p_1681.html plant support spools from the ceiling down to each plant container. They train the plant using vine clamps to grow up the string. when the vine reaches the top they let some of the string out lowering the plant. This technique can be used on tomato plants as well

If you start to notice that your cucumbers are growing bigger on one end then the other (bulbous at the top) & the leaves of the plant are showing faint yellowing around the edges then you need to add a blooming additive that is high in potassium & phosphorus as this is a sign that your plants need more potassium. http://shop.simplyhydro.com/BloomBastic-80-ml-Atami-_p_2534.html is the most popular or you can use http://shop.simplyhydro.com/Hydroplex-Bloom-Enchancer-Quart_p_766.html there are many potassium blooming additives available.

ok I get asked a lot why cucumbers that are growing and developed will all the sudden turn yellow and fall of. This one is an easy fix. Once your plant has more then 4 cucumbers developing on it I pinch off all new fruits until I am about to pick those then I let 4 or 5 more grow per plant. If there is a high fruit load on a plant developing fruits will abort.

Seedlings exposed to to much heat not enough light will stretch. This makes the seedlings weak and more susceptible to diseases, drought and bugs. The reason plants do this is they are assuming that they are being shaded by other plants and they grow really tall really fast in order to compete for light.

Once your tomato plants have a couple sets of leaves you need to expose them to air movement either from oscillating fans or gently running your fingers through the plant canopy a couple times a day. Doing this encourages the plant to grow stronger and healthier. Air movement also helps keep bugs off of plants. When the fan passes over the plant canopy the leaves should move slightly like in a light breeze. Having the fan to strong will cause wind burn damaging your plants.

Now when it comes to transplanting it is a fact the more times you transplant your tomato plants into bigger pots the better. WHY? you might ask. this is because every time you transplant you should bury it up to its "neck" (just below its top set of leaves), or as much of the plant you can bury under the soil. The newly buried part of the plant will develop a strong healthy root system. Planting this way also allows you to control the plants size. much easier to work with a plant that has 8 inches of strong stocky foliage then a 2 foot long spindly plant.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out

Worms have many benefits they:

  • They till the soil. Using a roto Tiller can actually compact the soil down. The earth worm burrows are easily followed by root systems. Worm castings are found to be very high in nitrogen fixing bateria.

  • They fertilize crops.

  • They eat leftovers that would normally be thrown to waste. Worms work 24/7 breaking down raw materials. Speeding up the composting process.

  • They improve soil structure.

  • They improve water absorbtion.

  • They condition the soil.

  • They help regulate the ph.

  • They increase the amount of benefical bateria.

Worms in the garden are also a great hands on distraction for your kids giving you time to weed and prune.

Soil is made up of to things: Rock particals and humus (humus is broken down organic matter). there are may grades or types of soil: loamy, clay sand just to name a couple.

Worm castings are close to neutral (around 7 ph) no matter what kind of soil the worm ate. Worm castings have calcium carbonate which helps keep the castings neutralized.

Worm casting are food for benefical microorganisms. casting contain thousands of enzymes, bacteria and small remnants of plant and animal matter that are not completely digested. This provides food for bateria already present and addes new bateria as well. These bateria release Potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and magneisum ready for immediate use by the plants.

The mucus in the worm casting bonds to the nutreints found in worm castings giving them a time release effect.

Some earthworms will eat half of thier body weight in a day. When you recyle your lawn (leave the grass clippings were they fall) worms will come eat the clippings and deposit castings on the lawn fertilizing your lawn for you.

worms that youw ould want to attract are:

  • Night crawlers: only used for outside composting they do not like being distubed. They have 6 foot long burrows.

  • Red worms: Very good composters they even like light. They are normally found in animal pastures and compost piles.

  • Red Wigglers: great for composting. can eat its own body weight everyday. They can double its numbers in 90 days.

A worm bin is a contained compost pile. worm bins can be made out of all kind of materials like: wood, metal, styrofoam, or plastic but they must be able to hold moisture and provide dark for the worms.

When building your compost bin you will need to know how big you need to make it. You do this by first gathering up the amount of waste you will be providing in a week. You will weigh the waste and make your worm bin 1 square foot of surface area for every pound of waste. Taking an average of serveral week would be more accurate as no home produces teh same amount of waste every week. so 1 pound is a 1 ft tall x 1 foot wide x 1 foot long. http://shop.simplyhydro.com/Wormtopia-Sunleaves_p_1783.html

Plastic for compost bins are only good when used inside a controlled environment. Plastic is not a good insulator. They cannot breath so holes must be drilled into the sides (not the bottom because you want to be able to collect the composted tea that will drain to the bottom). Whenmaking a plastic bin you want to drill 4-5 holes in the sides i inch in diameter. toward the bottom of the conrtainer you can drill a whole and install a spigot for easy removal of composted tea. Line the holes you drilled is shade cloth to prevent compost from spilling out of the holes. You are now ready to fill your bin with bedding and worms.

This worm house is probably one of the least expensive ways to build a worm house. Get a plastic nursery tray without holes and a few of them with holes. For teh bottom tray you use the tray without holes (this tray collect the tea). use blocks in the corners of the tray to support the next tray up. you then fill it with an inch or two of bedding, food, and worms. when the worms are almost to the top of the tray you will add another tray.

How many worms do you need? Worms on average each half of their body weight in one day. So if you have 1 lb. If you generate 1/2 lbs garbage a day you need 1 lb worms. Blend scraps in a blender so worms can faster absorb and digest it. Worm catsings on average are 5 times richer then most fertile soil and loaded with microorganisms. The best way to harvest your worm castings is to move bedding and worms to one side of the box every 2 to 3 months and fill other side with new bedding this will make them move to new bedding allowing you to harvest castings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To Be a Kid - How to Build Successful Garden

What I have noticed recently is that parents these days try and fill their kids lives with good things good schooling, sports, computers, educational toys, for amusement we take them to theme parks and zoos. Quickly disappearing are the lazy outdoor afternoons where we as kids were allowed to explore. Fearing out kids safety in a dangerous world, and being busy ourselves we cut off our children from experiences only found in lazy outdoor afternoon. We as adults unwittingly think life only happens in offices and classrooms. when a child has questions about nature we offer them books and computer programs instead of taking them outside for a hands on experience. Kids today no longer know the value of plants be it the name or the purpose.

Parents now think there is something wrong with a child who cannot sit still and focus. Scores of studies have shown that healthy natural environments increase mental acuity, relieve stress and speed up physical healing. Humans put quiet simply react, heal, and behave better with a natural environment.

Some flowers that are easy to grow in a kids garden are: sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, cone flowers, pretty much any pickable flower, thorn-less berries and vegetables. Pampus grass, Periwinkle, Lambs ear, Woolly time, and snow in summer all hold up very well to kids and pets.

The best way to have a successful children's garden is to make it stimulating to both the children and the parents. Elements to add to your children's garden that Will make it appealing to both parents and children are as follows:

  • You should have a water feature in your garden even if it is a small fountain. The sound of the water is relaxing Kids love touching and seeing water. You should be able to see the water feature from any view point in the garden. You can make your own pond stream brook or fountain. Brooks and streams spark children's imaginations and are shallow for less fear of the child falling in. You can build your own pond, fountain, brook or stream. Real brooks twist and turn eventually dumping into a river or lake, keep this in mind when designing brooks and streams in your garden. man built brooks and streams work the same way water is supplied from a pump. Water runs up the tubing hidden in the ground or behind plants and bushes to the top of the stream and uses gravity to carry it back down to the collection pool cycling the water over and over again. If when you build your pond, brook, or stream and the water runs out to fast line it with rubber liner or clay. If you are still worried about having a water feature with a child keep in mind they have motion sensor alarms for water features that will sound if someone gets into the pool without parents turning off switch.

  • You build a garden wild creatures will come. lol Gardens attract birds, lady bugs, rabbits, frogs, and many more little creatures that will visually and physically stimulate your child. Having beautiful micro habitats for these animals is visually stimulating to the parents. You always want to have a fresh water supply for the little creatures gardens attract. You want to go to the local wildlife office to find out what local inhabitants need for food, shelter and place to raise their young. Never use chemicals to keep your water clean of algae this will kill fish, frogs and other beneficial wildlife. Instead oxygenate the water and plant water plants such as water lilies and water hyacinth. add black trap door snails that eat algae. Do not use koi or carp they eat frog eggs and tadpoles that would have grow up to eat mosquito's. When you feed you birds do it by adding things that product berries, and nuts giving them a good variety of natural food sources. To make a bird house you can hang empty wooden boxes in private areas in the garden and decorate them with your child. Butterflies are attracted to sweet smelling flowers of the following colors: purple's, blues, oranges, yellow, white, pink and red. milk weed is a good food supply for a lot of butterfly's' for more info about butterfly gardens http://simplyhydro.blogspot.com/2009/07/butterfly-gardening-with-native-plants.html

  • Children love playing in and hiding in little forts, play houses, dens and caves. Giving them a place to hide with a window outside stimulates their imaginations. A bean poll tepee is an awesome way of building a fun fort for a child to play. You can make them easy out of any strong wood or even bamboo simply tee then wood or poles at the top making a tepee shape then use seeds of anything vine that grows fast ex: beans, squash, cucumbers. You can even make long tunnels which the kids can hide in and enjoy watching the vegetables grow. always make sure the doorway is open and free of plants so the child does not stump on the plants. Arbors with vine plants make fun hiding places as well. using these technique you can make big natural caves for your kids to play. (picture at the top of this post is of a tepee hut made out of bamboo and trellis netting.

  • Kids love playing with dirt, rock and sticks. While parents might not like these things kids love them and are able to create their own little worlds from their imaginations. So give your kid a place in the garden where they can dig, mound, and bury. Provide them with little shovels or kitchen spoons in the area they are allowed to dig and bury. Give your child little hills to play on. Allowing them to dig you will find not only does it stimulant there natural need to play with sand, or dirt but it helps develop there little muscles. A good way to give your child this area is a sand box. Allowing your child to play with sticks and stones might sound like a bad idea because the kid might use them as a weapon but if taught properly your child will learn to create buildings and sculptures.

  • Children love climbing. Provide them with different levels of terrain will satisfy their need to be on top. Norway and silver maples are both fast growing hard wood trees good for kids to climb. Apple and mulberry trees are also good trees for climbing. Tree houses do not have to be far off the ground to please children nor do they have to be in mature trees. Always be aware of building codes for tree houses and follow them for safety reasons.

  • Children's area needs to be free moving not constricting. Kids love to play, dance, jump, and run about. Try and provide them with adequate area to do so. Give your child a lawn to play, jump, and twirl. Slides and swings are a great way to stimulate your child while letting them move freely.

  • Provide your kids gardens with visual stimulating things like mazes, trees in the shape of animals or designs like stars or even brightly colored mosaics. Provide them with little hidden oasis's with benches for sitting and thinking. Children love running in circle give them a path that goes in a circular pattern will stimulate them and give them hours of fun. you an make the fun plant animals by bending chicken wire in the shape you want and fill it with sphagnum moss and cover with ivy plants.

  • In a successful child's garden neither the needs of the adult or the child will dominate.
    Patios and benches for adults with view of the child's activity's are very important for adults. The adults plants should be protected with borders and heavy duty containers. A child needs 2 things: they need to have room and space to move be it a grass plain or mulched area and they need places to hide and feel safe knowing they are not far from their parents.

A good way to help your child learn in the garden is to take on take like watering the plants and ask the kids to help you. Done regularly these rituals will teach your kids responsibility.

Making walls of plants will protect your children while letting them play and be themselves. Carfully placed mirrors with brightly colored frames are a good edition to the garden. Windows or peepholes are every popular for kids. Kids like square foot gardening it allows them to plant and weed in smaller scale areas. MOre coming on square foot gardening in near future.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quick Garden tips for the New Year

Watering tips-
Sandy soils need more frequent watering then clay soils. Also soils that are more sandy do not hold as much nutrients. Any easy way to tell if your soil is more sandy or clay is to get it wet and run your fingers through it. If the soil feels smooth it is mostly clay. If it feels grainy it is mostly sand. Many things can be added to sandy soil to make it hold more water and nutrients: http://shop.simplyhydro.com/Soil-Amendments_c_96.html also many things can be added to clay soils to make them lighter: http://shop.simplyhydro.com/Growing-Mediums_c_15.html perlite and hydroton clay pellets are the most popular.

It is better to apply water over an extended amount of time then a quick burst. When water is applied to fast soil/media does not have sufficent time to absorb the water resulting in most of the water running to waste.

Plants need certain elements to grow and live healthy lives. These elements are: Boron, Calcium, Carbon, Chlorine, Copper, hydrogen, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfer, Zinc, (Sodium, silicon provide benefits to plants in some situations). Carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are often not considered when talking about plant nutrition because they are provided by the air. Sulfur, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Nitrogen and Magnesium are called macro nutrients and are usually required in higher levels. The other elements are only needed in lower levels and are considered micro nutrients.

Home Made Nutrients-
I have heard a alot of talk about adding ammonia to water and applying to plants. I would not recommend this for any gardener. Ammonia is basically nitrogen. Problem is ammonia is gas dissolved in water. Because of that the ammonia could be a concentration of between 3-10 percent ammonia. If your ph is over 7 you will release aqueous ammonia a substance that is toxic to plants. It is impossible to find a relieable mixing ratio for ammonia.

NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is important to plant growth. Phosphorus is great for recently planted or starter plants. Phosphorus stays in the soil pretty well. But the smaller plants that need it do not have much of a root system for retreiving it. SO better results are acheived by applying it to the plants. When you add phosphorus to plants that are older they do not use it so it is either stored in the soil for later use or it washes into streams and lakes polluting them.

Do not use beer in your garden. Beer contains ethanol that will burn or kill your plants. Ethanol inhibits plant growth and encourages the growth of bad bacteria.

Chealtes are chemicals found in chemicals like liquid iron. Chelates bond to chemicals like iron and maganese allowing it to be absorbed by plants even when the soil ph level is to high for them. Chelates are easily washed out so they need to be reapplied frequently. Many need to be reapplied at a rate of once every 4 -8 weeks.

Look for more quick garden tips for the new year coming soon.

Natural Gardening Made Easy

Garden Friendly Glossary Words and Definitions-

Ecology: The study of the relationship between animals, environment and plants.

Ecosystem: The complex web of life that exists in one area. there can be multiple ecosystems lives right next to one another.

Habitat: A home for a particular animal or plant.

A Plant Community: a group of interdependent plants grow together. Plant communities are very predictable: the same plants grow over and over next to each other in the same place.

Micro habitats: small habitats which differ from the surrounding habitat.

Bio Diversity: The richness and complexity of life in an area. The higher the biodiversity the more plant and animals species that will live in that habitat.

Sustainability: Our ability to continue operating without demanding too much from the plants resources or overloading its ecosystem with pollutants.

Basic rules for a natural Garden-

To have a successful natural garden you must make a effort to have as many habitats and micro habitats as possible. This will give your garden more biodiversity. It will also make your garden more visibly appealing.

One must "use what you've got" when gardening. In other words always choose plants suitable for the area you want to garden.

Choosing native plants for your area has many benefits: Native plants are already adapted for a particular area. non-native plants sometimes escape into the wild choking out the nature flora. Native plants host a good micro habitat for local insects. You can usually find a list of Plants that are forbidden in an area because they are known to cause problems, I would highly recommend doing this so you are able to decide what you would like to plant native and non-native in your garden without causing harm to the local environment.

Do you have a problem with Slugs and other insects? Install a pond, frogs and toads will come. Both frogs and toads eat large numbers of slugs and insects.

Always have complexity in your garden plants. Having a wide variety of plants not only creates corridors for natural to safely travel around in your garden but it makes sure that when something does attack your garden that your entire garden is not killed. EX: deers love eating fresh rose branches and flowers. If all you have in your garden is roses you will have no survivors.
In the area where you are going to put your garden you might have to watch and record the environments in that area for a year to find out what parts hold more water, what gets more light or less light. Once this is done you will know what to plant in the certain areas.

When you are limited in garden space you must think vertically. Growing vertically gives depth to your garden making it more visibly appealing. Example growing climbing plants on the back wall of the garden ending with moss on the ground of the front of the garden.

If the look you are going for in your small garden is a woodland look add ferns this will immediately invoke woodland in the mind of the viewer. If you are going for a meadow look plant grasses and heathers . When planting a natural garden one must keep in m ind that plants in the wild grow intertwined. Meaning many species growing together and next to each other, which looks kind of like a mosaic painting. So, how do you make your small garden look natural? You would plant the same plant in several areas of your garden or scatter it in several areas. You do not have to use a bunch of that plant the key is more to have it in several areas. Using a self sowing plant is a good way to get a natural look in your garden.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Simply Hydroponics and Organics North Store is Moving

Hello everyone. What better way to kick off the new year. Simply's north store is moving to a BIGGER, BADDER, BETTER location. The new shop is just under 1.5 acres. Plans are in the works to make the new north store a SUPER GARDEN CETER. I will post picture for everyone once we are moved in hopfully in next couple week. I will also update you guys once it is open. They are going to be having a grand opening I hope to see you there

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Composting Tips part 1

Ok everyone this subject is very big SO I am going to post this in a couple of sections so you can ready at you own pace.

Why should you compost you ask? The Average home could save 35% of the waste in the lanfill if they recycled. Also the key to happy healthy plants is happy soil.

When building a good compost pile you want stuff to break down at different times. This allows for stable food and decaying material for the beneficail microorganisms and worms.

Compost that is completely broke down is still benefical to the garden it becomes stable humus. Which means it no longer breaks down fast, becasue all the organic matter has broke down. This process takes between 6 months to a year.

A good compost mixture should contain Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and micronutrients like: Boron, iodine, magnese, copper, zinc, and iron. The more of these things you have in your compost the better your plants will do.

Adding compost or "humus" to the soil increases water retension up to 200% of its dry weight compaired to 20% without it.

Compost bonds with certain toxins like cadmium and lead and does not let it get absorbed by the plants.

You need 4 things for Microorganisms to live and work in a compost pile:
1. Carbon 2. Nitrogen 3. Oxygen 4. Moisture

Examples of Carbon are Leaves, straw, sawdust, and corn stalks

Nitrogen is basically your activator in your compost pile "they get things cooking" Examples of Nitrogen are: Manure, Grass clippings, Kelp, Green Vegetation, Bloodmeal

Nitrogen needs to be added in smaller quantities then Carbon. To much Nitrogen releases a amonia gas smell were to little makes the pile breakdown take to long.

Oxygen is required by almost all microorganisms. If you do not have oxygen in the pile decompistion slows 90%.

Moisture is needed for Microorganisms and other soil creatures like worms to do thier work. Optimal moisture content is 45% to 50%.

Heat is a byproduct of an baterial organism, but plays no actual part in breaking down of organic matter. The reason people tryaand heat there compost piles are to kill disease causing organisms and weed seeds.

Earth Worms are an awesome addition to compost piles. They ingest and digest organic matter at a rate of 1 time there body weight a day . The worms break down organic matter making it available faster to the benifical bateria and fungus.

You want to make sure you do not add to much of one thing to your garden ata time. Example: Putting a lot of hay in the pile at one time will create to much carbonaceius matterial and not enough nitrogen. Or to much grass clipping will make a slimy mess.

WHen you gather a large quantity of stuff leave it off to the side of the big pile and add stuff to the pile a little at a time.

The more variety of stuff you add to your pile the more microorganisms you will ahve. For beginners your mixture should losely fit this formula: 2 parts vegetal matter (grass, leaves, straw) 1 part animal manure.

A Great list of stuff to add to your pile are:
Alfalfa meal and hay, algae (pond weeds), Apple Pomace (cider press waste), Ashes (wood not coal), Buckwheat, cat litter (unused), citrus waste, coffe waste and grounds, corn stals and husk, cotton seed, dog food (nitrogen activator), dolomite, earthworms, egg shell (grind or crush), flowers, peels, granite dust, dried grass clippings, green sand, hay, hedge clippings (chopped up), Brewery waste, kelp, leaves, peanut shells, peat moss, phosphate rock, ground oster shells or clams, sphanum moss, weeds, wheat straw.

Composting Tips Part 2

If you are adding ashes to your compost pile you should not add coal ashes they are toxic to plants you need to use firplace ashes. When using fireplace ashes you need to sift out the bigger chunks. Wood ash is a great source of potash. Some people use ashes as a bug Deterent.

Burning bannana skins, cocoshells, cucumbers and lemon skins and applying in layers to the compost pile increases potassium and phosphorus content.

Feather contain High Nitrogen.

When adding kitchen scraps do not use: oils, meats, or dairy products. Oils coat plant matter like varnish. Meat attracts flies and wild life.

When applying grass clippings to compost pile instead of "Grass cycling" dry it first and mix with something else dry like leaves or put them in in very small layers.

You must do layers for successful compost pile.

When using grass clippings that have been treated with herbicides or pesticides you should let break down for 1 year before using.

A compost pile that becomes to wet needs turned.

A pile of leaves will sit for a year decomposing. If you chop up the leaves they will break down up to 4 times faster.

Adding oak leaves makes compost acidic which is good for acid loving plants like blue berries.

Soil added to a compost pile is natures best Activator.

A seed once ingested and subjected to the digestive system of a earthworm will never grow.

A compost pile should reach 135 degrees F for a few days to make weed seed sterile.

If adding paper to your compost pile you should shred it first so it breaks down fast.

If you are going to add veg material or green material to your compost pile that comes from a diseased plant you need to burn the material first then add the ashes.

Cat or dog dropping should never be added to compost pile that goes for cat litter as well. This is because the cat/dog waste contains harmful and dangerous organisms that can cause blindness and other organ problems.

You can starta compost pile with material taken from another compost pile called "seeding Compost" this gives the new pile microorganisms and possibly earth worms as well.

A 2 inch layer of seeding compost can be put into your pile on top of every 12 inches or so of new organic matter.

Vegetarians can use things like alfalpha or cotton seed instead of bone meal or blood meal to add protein to compost pile.

Composting tips part 3

Composting using the "Heap" method requires the least amount of work to get started. Make sure with this method that you start the pile in a area you are going to put your garden at that way you do not loss the leached nutrients and tea. A good size pile varies in size but a good size to start with is a 5 ft x 5 ft square and 3 feet tall.

There are 4 valid principles in a sucessful compost pile they are: 1. Build compost piles in layers like a sandwich alternating dry material and wet material. 2. You must have accurate moisture content for microbes to live and thrive. 3. The pile must be optimum size and things like insulation, heating and compaction must be considered. and 4. You must have good air flow in your pile or benefical bactria cannot survive.

The "Indore" method or process: Spread alternating 6 inch layers of green and dry vegetable matter witha 2 inch manure top coat. Sprinkle with soil. Repeat one time. Water the pile till it has the consistency of a squeezed out sponge. Poke vent holes all the way to the ground. Watch the pile for teh next 6 weeks keeping an eye out for 2 danger signals: 1. Bad odor nad fly's: Pile got over watered. or 2. "arrested Fermentation" to little water. After 6 weeks, remove the organic matterial stirring it as you go and starta sencond pile. NO worries about layers this time. Allow the compost to ripe as you start your second pile. 3 months breakdown time per pile.

The "University of California Method" makes usable compost in 14 days. When using this method you must chop and shred the material to increase surface area of the organic material. You must also thoroughly blend the activator and carbonaceous material. You must frequently turn the pile every 2-3 days. The pile should measure 4 ft x 5 ft and every 3 or 4 inches generously sprinkle alfalfa meal. Heavy dampening with water. Every 18 inches or so a thick layer of unchopped hay for air channel. Top cover with pile of hay for insulation.

The "Qucik Leaf Compost Method" lay fresh leaves on the ground and add fresh manure and a little composted soil. Rototill and water if to dry. Then stack the material 3 feet high 6 ft wide and however long you want to make it. Cover with plastic 4 to 5 days. Rototill one more time for aeroation. rebuild your pile and replace plastic cover. in 2 weeks it will be ready for use.

If you have no space or are limited in space you are still able to compost using earthworms. Happy earthworms sometimes called "Intestines of the Soil" double their number in about a months time. On average you shold go through about 6-7 lbs of scraps every week feeding our earthworms. Earthworm soil neesd to be between 50 degree F and 84 degree F. Rule of thumb you add twice as many worms as the average daily amount of garbage you want them to process. ex: If you generate 1/2 lbs garbage a day you need 1 lb worms. Blend scraps in a blender so worms can faster absorb and digest it. Worm catsings on average are 5 times richer then most fertile soil and loaded with microorganisms. The best way to harvest your worm castings is to move bedding and worms to one side of the box every 2 to 3 months and fill other side with new bedding this will make them move to new bedding allowing you to harvest castings.

When should you use box or bin when composting? Piles take time and patience to build correctly they must have correct shape and be reshaped after turning and adding more materials. With a container you no longer need to worry about that. Conatiners also keep your pile nice looking and less offensive.

When staring a compost pile you should at least dig up the sod even better dig up a foot or so of ground. The reason you do this to allow the microorganisms and earthworms a head start.

You should not move your pile around year after year. Having your pile in the same spot allows for culturezation of microorganisms and earthworms.

Always leave some compost in your pile when it is finished. The left over compost allows for a cultured kickstart to your new pile

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Composting the Final Chapter

I have heard people say you should put your compost pile in a depression. The theory behind this is that your nutrients will not leach out. The problem with this is that if the water does not drain out your will have a smelly aerobic mess. It is better to put your compost pile where your garden is going to be. Your compost pile should be placed on level ground.

Another approach is to have your compost pile several layers off the ground. This creates airflow by creating channels below the pile. You can use pallets to prop the pile up, But if you have the pile to high the air beneath it will cool the pile down and slow decomposition. Also with this method microorganisms from the ground will not be able to reach the pile.

Do not put you compost pile on a concrete slab. While it prevents nutrients from being leached out into the ground, it empedes aeroation and does not let microials or worms contact the pile. also do not line the floor of the compost pile with plastic to avoid leaching. you will only cut off oxygen supply to the pile, slowing decomp and killing microbes.

Your compost pile should measure 1 cubic yard at least.

Nevery make your compost pile wider or taller then 5-6 feet or your piles center will not have enough air circulation and will become aerobic. Try and keep your pile between 4-6 feet tall.

Always alternate your layers between dry and green stuff. make the layers 6 inch thick for best results. A good example of layering is 6 inch layer of veg or greenstuff, 6 inch manure, a thin layer of soil or finished compost, water then repeat. If you do not want to use animal matter you can instead use rock phosphate.

Your pile will shrink 20-60% depending on material added you can add more material if you like to rebuild pile height.

Aeroation is very important when composting add 2 to 4 inches of sunflower stalks to the baseof a compost pile will provide good air channels.

Another good way to provide good aeroation is to build your pile around ventilating stacks. There are several ways to make the stacks. You can use perforated drainage pipe. You can bundle up corn stalks into cylinders or twist chicken wire into cylinders. You mount the vent stalks straight up and down.

Once your pile is built you can try poking holes through it using a long metal pipe.

You want your compost pile to be between 60-40% moisture content. Basically the material in the pile needs to be wet in the consistancy of a wet wrong spounge.

So one of the biggest problems you will have with your pile is getting the entire pile wet and having no dry spots. Poking holes in the pile helps not only with the aeroation but also helps the entire pile get moisture. Turning your pile throughly also helps with this. also getting your pile wet as you are buliding the layer helps with this.

Thinsg like hay, straw, saw dust, moss and corn cobs should be pre-moistened before adding to the pile.

Rain water is very good for compost pile. Rain water picks up lots of oxygen, minerals, andmicro-organisms on teh way down. You can dish the top of your pile to collect rainwater.

The ph in your ple should be between 6 and 7. The best time to check the ph is before adding to soil. If your plants like it more acidic like blue berries you would add more oak leaves to your pile.

A compost pile that is healthy will maturally neutrilize itself.

Compost is not food it is more like a vitamin boost for your plants. Almost all compost has a very low NPK. Most grdeners add nutrients with compost when applying to garden.