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COMPOST RECIPE

How To Grow Azaleas

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COMPOST RECIPE

Food waste that is not composted generally goes directly to a landfill. Do your part to minimize the impact of food waste, start composting today! Follow this compost recipe to get started:

1. Choose a 4-foot by 8-foot area, preferably shaded, where water does not collect when it rains.

2. Cover half the area with a 6-inch layer of leaves. Water thoroughly.

3. Next, add a 2-inch layer of grass clippings and/or fruit and vegetable scraps and a dash of soil.

4. Mix this layer into the layer below it using a hoe or a cultivator. At this point, water thoroughly.

5. Top with a 2-inch layer of leaves.

Thereupon, repeat steps 3 through 5 as ingredients are available. Eventually, the top layer of the completed pile should be at least 4 inches of leaves covering all food materials. Build pile to 3 feet high as soon as you can.

Turn the whole pile over with a hay fork or shovel every 2 to 3 weeks, adding water as needed to make the whole pile moist (similar to a wrung-out sponge).

Finally, the compost is well done when most of the original ingredients have broken down and when it smells like rich soil.

ITEMS THAT CAN BE COMPOSTED:
Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, bread, unbleached paper napkins, coffee filters, eggshells, meats and newspaper can be composted. If it can be eaten or grown in a field or garden, it can be composted.

DO NOT COMPOST:

Plastics, grease, glass and metals — including plastic utensils, condiment packages, plastic wrap, plastic bags, foil, silverware, drinking straws, bottles, polystyrene or chemicals.

For advanced composters: Items such as red meat, bones and small amounts of paper are acceptable, but they take longer to decompose. Add red meat and bones to only a well-controlled compost pile to avoid attracting vermin, pests and insects to partially decomposed meat scraps.

There are many ways to compost, as well as a plethora of tools to make it easier on consumers, from small countertop compost bins to large backyard tumblers. You can even buy earth-friendly compost ready to go, such as Living Earth® Organic Compost.

Explore your options, experiment and find a solution that fits your lifestylNEX

 

 

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HOW TO BUILD A POLLINATOR GARDEN

How To Grow Azaleas

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HOW TO BUILD A POLLINATOR GARDEN

What is a pollinator garden? A pollinator garden is planted to attract a wide range of pollinating insects (and birds too!). Reminiscent of victory gardens during of World War I and II, pollinator gardens are also about shoring up food supplies – but this time it’s for pollinators.

The goal of pollinator gardens is to provide nectar and pollen to reverse the decline of pollinators and to provide habitat (milkweed) for Monarch butterflies.

The populations of our native bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators have been declining for several decades. In 2015, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) joined forces with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to encourage pollinator habitats on transportation right-of-way. Since that time, pollinator garden design is at the heart of most garden planning. 

According to USDA research, pollinators are responsible for one out of three bites of food we take each day. Without pollinators plants would not reproduce! There are more than 200,000 species of beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, wasps, ants and moths, and more than 1,000 vertebrates such as birds, bats and small mammals that are also pollinators.

Pollinators travel from plant to plant carrying pollen that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that:

  • Produce fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Produce oils, fibers and raw materials
  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Increase carbon sequestration

Follow these steps to build your pollinator garden:

DETERMINE LOCATION 

Butterflies and other pollinators love the sun, and their favorite wildflowers grow best in full or partial sun. Protection from the wind is also important. 

If you are planning an in-ground pollinator garden, consider your soil. Is the soil sandy and well-drained or more clay-like and wet? Both soils can be amended to provide the best possible conditions for your garden.

If you’d like to learn more about your soil before planting, consider testing. Soil tests are a good way to measure health and fertility. The tests are generally inexpensive, though well worth any cost when it comes to growing success.

Raised bed pollinator gardens allow gardeners more control over the soil and additives but in-ground pollinator gardens are great too. It is a matter of preference.

Butterflies love the sun!

PLAN

Now that you know where you want your bed, it’s time to consider plants, color, texture and height. Plant placement is just as important as plant choice. Use the interior design rule of planting in odd numbers, like threes or fives. 

Insects prefer not to have to search widely for high-energy nectar, so an expansive wildflower-sprinkled meadow is not ideal. Flying uses a lot of energy. Instead, pollinators prefer adjacent groupings of their favorite plants because it shortens their commute.

Choose plants native to your region. 

Native plants share a long evolutionary history with their pollinators, so including a wide variety of natives will make your garden a favorite destination for pollinators. Choose carefully to match the site conditions; natives will flourish without the addition of fertilizers and pesticides.

Choose nectar- and pollen-rich flowers with a range of shapes, sizes and colors. 

Pollinator favorites such as black eyed susan and salvia help attract pollinators, but diversity is the key to a successful garden. Because each pollinator has its own techniques for sourcing nectar and pollen, flowers should be as varied as the pollinators that visit them.

Remember the butterflies!
Without host plants for butterfly larvae (caterpillars) to eat, there will be no butterflies! So don’t forget to provide this vital food source. Many butterfly larvae can only feed on one or two specific host plants—particularly native trees, shrubs, and perennials—that are vital to their survival. For example, Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed.

If you are like most gardeners and like input from the experts, use the Pollinator Partnership’s tool for selecting pollinator plants based on region or talk to your local Living Earth representative. 

Determine the best soil solution.
Don’t forget to buy organic Living Earth products before you plant! Product recommendations may vary based on application, region and soil conditions, including:

  • Tree & Shrub Mix, a direct planting media that doesn’t need to be mixed into existing soil for in-ground beds
  • Landscaper’s Mix, which should be blended into existing garden soil to be most effective, is an ideal media for in-ground beds
  • In Tennessee, Magic Mix is an ideal formulation for in-ground and raised beds
  • For raised beds, Organic Garden Soil is ideal but, in most cases, must be amended
  • For well-tended garden beds, you may not need to do much more than mix in some Premium Organic Compost

For more information about raised garden beds, visit our About Raised Garden Beds page.

Seeds vs plants.
Once you’ve identified your plant species, decide whether to use seeds or start with small plants. If you’re using seeds, plan on dispersing them the fall or late winter ahead to give them time to germinate before the summer growing season. 

If you are going to use plants, then aim for early spring planting but be sure to do so just after the last recorded frost for your area. 

If you aren’t quite sure about your garden yet, use local resources. Consult a landscape architect to help you design and integrate solutions, which range from plant selection and design to features to collect rainwater. There are other resources available as well. For example, did you know many cities offer free sprinkler evaluation? 

READY. SET. ENJOY!

Now that you have planted your garden, all you need to do is reap its rewards. That and water frequently and fertilize regularly!

If you are planting seeds over the fall, it takes a little longer but no matter the timing, once your pollinator garden is in full bloom, you’ll have an active, beautiful garden that’s well worth the effort – for you and the planet.

Remember… Even one pollinator-friendly plant makes a significant difference!

 

 

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Protect Your Plants From A Freeze

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Protect Your Plants From A Freeze

       What to Do When Jack Frost Is on the Way

Protect Your Plants From A Freeze

When the weather begins to turn cold, it’s time to protect your plants from a freeze. While most gardeners know how to  shelter plants during a freeze, it’s best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. It could be a matter of [plant] life or death!

Know the lowest temps your veggies can handle and follow these tips:

HYDRATE YOUR PLANTS

The good news is – you can reduce your watering during cool months. However, don’t let the soil completely dry out. Dry plants are vulnerable. Therefore, water them consistently before cold snaps arrive. Further, check to see if you need more mulch; three inches is optimal. Try our Premium Colored Mulch; while everyone has their favorite color, we find the brown blends nicely during the winter months.

Moreover, plants should maintain a healthy moisture level in the soil regardless of the season. Your plants won’t do well if you over or under water them… especially when you live in an area with lots of temperature changes.

Protect Your Plants From A Freeze

PROVIDE COVERAGE

Plants that are in pots or containers suffer more than plants in the ground, even if their roots are covered with mulch. In fact, there is about a 10-degree variance. So, cover these plants with frost cloths, old bed sheets, burlap, etc. Above all, do not use plastic or plastic-lined material.

GIVE THEM SHELTER

If you can, bring your potted plants inside to protect them from a freeze. Whether this means in your kitchen, garage or other sheltered area, provide extra protection. Further, if you have a greenhouse, be sure you have a backup power source.

Given enough of a warning, you’ll have more time to take the proper precautions when moving potted plants indoors. From relocating plants at night to moving them before temps dip below 45 degrees, every precaution helps keep your plants healthy and thriving.

CUT THE SALT

To reduce chances of slipping, have you considered using salt to keep your walking and driving areas gritty? Don’t. Salt products can be bad for your plants, water runoff and environment.

In many areas, primarily concrete sand is used and is non-polluting. Also, we recommend lava or granite sand. They’re non-toxic and good for garden soil as they wash off paving and into our lawns. Taking the proper precautions and using the right products can help you keep herbs and veggies growing throughout the colder months.

Get started on these steps while the weather is still mild — and if you haven’t already, make sure you’re also caring for your tools and keeping them safe from the icy cold.

For these and other tips about protecting your landscape, contact a Living Earth® expert.