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Types of Mulches

Mulching is covering the soil with a thin layer of material to block weeds, retain moisture, increase nutrients and microbes in the soil and/or for appearance sake. There are different reasons to use mulch and different types of mulches. Ground bark mulches are good spread around trees and shrubs. Ground bark mulches will suck nutrients away from plants so I don't recommend using them near flowers and vegetables. Mature stable compost is better around flowers and vegetables because it will add nutrients to the soil not take away.  Shredded leaves from the year before are great to use as a mulch. Unshredded leaves may become matted and repel water.  Straw can be used but I find it to be expensive. Hay...

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How to Buy Good Quality Compost

To buy good quality compost ask these questions; What are the feedstocks? Popular feedstocks are yard wastes, food wastes, manure/bedding & other agricultural wastes, industrial wastes from lumber, paper and breweries, and biosolids. Some common contaminants of these feedstocks are persistent herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, road salts and other roadway chemicals, heavy metals, and garbage. Look for compost that doesn’t have these contaminants. Devine Gardens compost is made from on-farm sustainably raised animals and mixed with a mulchy/sawdust mixture bought from the local lumber mill to create the correct C:N ratio and bulk density.  There are no contaminants in Devine Gardens compost. It is approved for use in certified organic production. What method is used to actively compost the...

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Two Ways to Compost

Cool composting is what most of us are doing in our backyards. When piles of feedstock, whether its manure or yard and food waste, are allowed to sit until they break down that is considered cool composting. Cool composting your own yard and food waste this way makes absolutely, wonderful compost that is filled with many microorganisms (keep noxious weeds and diseased plants out). You may want to surround the pile with a fine screen like chicken wire to keep the animals out. Cool composting manure is not an effective way to kill pathogens. If you want to compost manure it should be turned to aerate and the temperature should be monitored. Cool composting does not eliminate weed seeds either....

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Stop the Not-So-Fun Fungi in Their Tracks

Have you ever wondered why one day your seedlings look healthy and the next day they are falling over and drooping? It's caused by a disease from bad fungus known as damping off. Vermicompost can help prevent this disease from attacking your seedlings. This picture from Cornell's website shows seedlings that were grown with and without vermicompost. http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/vermicompost.htm  This beautiful poster shows how vermicompost helps prevent damping off. Too much information? Don't worry, just add 10% vermicompost to your seed starting and potting mixes to give your seedlings that extra layer of protection.  

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Potting and Seed Starting Mix

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between seed starting mix and potting mix? They both hold moisture and have good drainage to allow roots to develop. They are most commonly made from different combinations of aged bark/forest products, sphagnum peat moss, coconut coir, perlite and/or vermiculite. They are both disease and weed seed free.    The main difference is their purpose.  The purpose of seed starting mix is to give the seed a place to germinate, or develop into plants by putting out its first roots and shoot. Seed starting mix is finely textured so that the seeds make good contact with the mix. The finer texture also keeps the seeds from falling down into bigger spaces in...

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