Events for May
Tuesday May 8th, 6 pm-9 pm we will be featuring, Gwen Harper AISD Recycling Coordinator.
“Organic in the City” at the Texas Discovery Gardens in Fair Park
Bringing together individuals interested in global environmentalism in a fun social environment! (Global Environmentalism: a concern for, and action to help solve, global environmental problems.)
Presenting: Talking Trash, a.k.a. Waste Watchers Anonymous…
Lynnette J. McKendell
Event Sales Director
Tel: 214-428-7476 Ext. 29
Discover what's blooming at www.texasdiscoverygardens.org!
Compost Gardening Class
City of Garland
Hands on experience from master composters.
May 12th 9:00am
Native Plant Society of Texas (Garland Chapter)
Monthly Meetings at 2:00pm 3rd Sunday except July and November
Edible Natives offered by Hester Schwarzer
What is the difference between:
Lawn and Garden Microbes: These microscopic bacteria colonize in the soil and absorb nutrients through their cell
walls. Many science fiction movies are made about similar large-scale globs or quick moving jell-o like creatures that attack
humans. With each human that “The Blob” consumes it grows larger.
Microbes find nutrients by exerting juices or enzymes that break down organic matter enabling them to absorb nutrients from the particle that they are attacking. The more nutrients that are available allow the bacteria to multiply. Just like: “The Blob.”
Lawn and Garden Microbes are a perfect tool for cleansing a chemically treated lawn or landscape. The carbon-based chemicals in many cases leave salt residuals, which may be one of the factors for soil collapsing. Soil structure, moisture levels, physical activities and improper mowing techniques also cause soil compaction. Microbes can alleviate compaction by creating air pockets as they digest bodies of dead insects, chemical fertilizers and decaying plant material such as lawn thatch.
Chemical fertilizers that do not contain insecticides and or fungicides do not create an adverse situation for microbes. As a matter of fact, many college stadiums use microbes to enhance their turf programs. Colleges that use microbes on playing fields claim to have fewer injuries as the athletes fall on soils that are less compacted.
Beneficial Nematodes: Microscopic, carnivorous, worm like creatures that live in the soil searching for live prey. They seek by smelling gases put out by dormant or larval stages of insects. Once they locate their prey they enter the body, releasing a toxin that kills the host. A few hours later they lay eggs that hatch out and consume the flesh, until they eat through the outer layer. Once the nematodes are released they start looking for another host.
Grubs, fleas, fire ants, termites, roaches and many more insects are consumed by these Nematodes, keeping your landscape’s insect population to manageable proportions.
Beneficial Nematodes do like moist, loose soils, and can coexist with Microbes. They do not like fungicides or insecticides, so be careful with applications of fungicides or insecticides applied directly to soils.
Horticultural Corn Meal and Potassium Bicarbonate do not seem to affect Beneficial Nematodes or Microbes. I think that the use of corn meal actually helps them since you are applying organic matter that may help separate the soil particles.
Core Aeration: The removal of plugs from the soil creating air space is a chore that should be performed more often in all lawns.
Aeration loosens compacted soil and increases the availability of water and nutrients. The cavities created enhance oxygen levels in the soil, stimulating root growth and enhancing the activity of thatch-decomposing organisms.
Aeration helps conserve water by reducing water runoff, therefore increasing the lawn's drought tolerance.
For those of you who have aerated your lawn in the past do not think that your lawn doesn’t need another aeration. Yearly or more frequent aeration will benefit the soil by decreasing thatch. Thatch, just like on a roof, does not allow moisture or air to penetrate. The cores created by aeration will increase thatch breakdown.
If you were capable of aerating your lawn in the past you may have noticed the difficulty that the machine had in penetrating the soil and once the cores were left on the soil you complained that they did not break down quickly enough.
By applying microbes a few weeks before you aerate the lawn you will notice two benefits:
- The aerator will penetrate deeper, easier.
- The cores left behind will breakdown quicker.
Caution: There are some companies that use or rent modified tillers as aerators. These tillers rip through the lawn
with out removing cores and in many cases push the soil inward, compacting the soil below it. If you decide to rent a machine
and do it yourself or hire a company other than Rohde’s to aerate your lawn, insist on core aeration.
Compost: There is tremendous benefit in applying compost over aerated lawns. Please read the next paragraph carefully.
As the owner of Green Sense Fertilizers, I could state, probably without fear of contradiction, that nothing is better for the overall health of your soil, lawn and plants than using Green Sense Products, but I would be lying.
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your soil, lawn and plants is apply compost.
Good compost contains microorganisms that will stimulate the soil, make nutrients available to plants, improve moisture retention, keep harmful organisms in check and loosen compacted soils.
The primary food source for the beneficial organisms in the soil is dead organic matter, preferably in the form of compost because the heat generated in the composting process eliminates weed seeds, insects, pathogens and carbon based chemicals.
There are lots of cheap composts, as well as products that call themselves compost, on the market today.
There's a popular saying in our industry: "Compost is compost". Nothing could be further from the truth. All composts are not the same. There's good compost. There's cheap compost. But there ain't no good, cheap compost! Except for the stuff you make at home!
Why? Because the raw material in good compost contains more protein and plant nutrients than the cheap products do.
Many of today's commercial composts are made from discarded wood waste materials old pallets, fences, tree limbs and discarded lumber. They may be fine as a mulch, but as a food for beneficial organisms they are next to worthless. In fact, if they are not properly composted, and most of them aren't, they can actually tie up nutrients in your soil.
Many of you know how frugal I am. I try to save money in every possible way.
How many times have you seen old pick up trucks driving around town with huge, gravity defying, stacks of pallets that seem like they are about to fall over? Well, I thought that I might try saving money and cruise around some of the warehouses in the area loading my truck up with free pallets rather the having to pay $3.00 a piece.
One day I went to visit a friend of mine, Jay Carroll, at The Carroll Company. The Carroll Company manufactures cleaning solvents for home and industrial use. As I was given a tour of their buildings we came upon a warehouse that had stacks of hundreds of pallets.
Jay told me that these pallets were to be destroyed. “Recently I have been driving around looking for pallets, can I have these?”
Jay looked at me, a stern expression on his face. “If they could be reused we would not be disposing of them. We purchase hundreds of pallets a year to replace those that are contaminated.”
“Contaminated with what?”
“Some chemicals that may be on pallets could be worse then the ingredients that you use for cleaning purposes.”
Jay smiled. “You have paints, corrosives, herbicides, insecticides and worse that leak onto pallets. These pallets are not safe to reuse and should be disposed of properly. Composting these pallets is not safe disposal.”
There are companies that charge for disposal of these contaminated pallets and then run them through hammer mills and throw them in to big stagnant piles. After the sawdust has been mounded for a few weeks and has aged to a dark color, they then sell it as compost. Compost that many people use in their vegetable gardens. Compost that is still breaking down and may leach nitrogen from the plants that you are trying to feed with this compost.
The compost that I most recommend and use on landscape jobs and for top dressing lawns is made by the folks at Back to Nature, Inc. near Lubbock, TX. Back To Nature Composts and Blends are made from cotton burrs (bolls).
Cotton Burr Compost works so well because cotton severely depletes the soil of nutrients as it grows, and the nutrients wind up concentrated in the seed and the boll (bud leaf or sepal) of the cotton plant.
When analyzed, cotton bolls contain approximately 35% protein. In fact, the cotton gin trash that is the raw material for Back To Nature Products is so rich in protein it is fed to cattle.
Besides their food value, cotton bolls also contain all the macro and micro-nutrients that plants require. Enough nutritional value that at one time, cotton burr compost was registered as a fertilizer. But because it is nearly impossible to maintain a minimum guaranteed analysis on compost, and because registration significantly increases production cost, registration as a fertilizer was discontinued.
Back To Nature Compost and Blends are truly, "nature's finest composts."
Using nature's finest ingredient: cotton burrs, BTN Products are composted for up to four full months in 1000 foot long windrows. Moisture is then added to the windrows to activate naturally occurring compost micro-organisms, who's digestive processes cause temperatures in the windrows to rise rapidly to temperatures that, if left alone, would approach 175F.
Mother Nature gets in the act too, because she arranged it so weed seeds, insects, pathogens and chemicals are killed or eliminated at temperatures below 150F, while beneficial organisms are killed at temperatures above 150F.
So, as the windrows approach 150F, oxygen is introduced to the rows by turning them with a huge turning machine called a "Scarab". The turning process immediately lowers the temperatures in the rows to a safe level. On average, the rows must be turned once a week to prevent excessive core temperatures.
There are basically three types of composting methods: windrow, static pile and in-vessel.
Windrow composting is used where large quantities of raw material must be processed because it provides a better turn of the raw material than static piling, ensuring that all the material is exposed to the heat that's required to kill the weeds, insect, pathogens, and eliminate any chemical residues.
Static pile composting is what you do at home...and it's the method that most of the cheap composts on the market use too. Static piling simply means the material is stacked up in a pile and turned. Home gardeners turn their piles with a fork or tractor. Commercial composters turn theirs with front-end loaders. The problem with static piling in a commercial operation is that is does not expose all of the raw material to the "core" of the row, where the heat is generated.
In-Vessel composting means putting the raw material in a barrel, small at home, huge in a commercial operation, applying moisture, and turning until all of the bad stuff is eliminated. It's faster, but it also kills most of the beneficial organisms in the raw material.
Lots of commercial operators will argue that static pile composting is just as effective at eliminating weeds, insects, pathogens and chemicals as windrow composting. And it probably is for home composting. But if you ask the commercial operators what method they use, they will admit they use static piling. Why? Because it's cheaper. So is their compost. So is their quality.
So do your soil and plants a favor. Treat them to some Back To Nature Cotton Burr Compost and enjoy some astonishing results from your yard and garden this year.
I do have to thank the people at Back To Nature for help with editing portions of this newsletter. Their knowledge and wonderful products have helped my business grow.
I have tried other compost to compare to BTN and have found better results with their products which I have used for over twenty five years.
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