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How To Create A Bonsai Tree


How To Create A Bonsai Tree

Many kinds of trees, plants and shrubs can be made into a bonsai. A bonsai is a miniature version of a tree planted in a pot. Japanese maples are ideal deciduous trees for creating beautiful bonsai. Using a method called air layering, it is very easy to make a branch sprout roots that will support it after separation from the tree. By selecting a nicely shaped branch, you can start a bonsai tree that will bring years of enjoyment. Here’s how to create a tree that would normally take five years or more to develop from seed or cuttings.

STEPS

  1. Select the species of tree. When selecting a tree species its important to consider your geographic location. Some trees lose their leaves in the winter and require the temperature to drop below freezing so that they can enter a dormant state and prepare for the spring. Other trees will not survive long in the freezing weather. Some trees will require a lot of water during a hot summer while others are heat hardy. Research the kind of trees that do well in your area.
  2. Select the size of your bonsai. Bonsai trees can be as anywhere from miniature (6 inches tall) to large bonsai (up to 3 ft tall). Decide what size bonsai you would like before actually going out to select the plant.
  3. Select the plant. Once you have decided which kind and what size bonsai you would like, you can go to a nursery or a bonsai shop and select the plant that you will use to make your bonsai tree. When choosing a plant, look for leaf color to make sure that the plant is healthy. Then look around at the selection of plants and imagine what each plant would look like after it is pruned. It’s important to visualize the bonsai before you buy the plant and bring it home. You do not want to bring a plant home only to decide that it isn’t immediately suitable to be a bonsai.
  4. Select a pot. Selecting the right pot has a lot to do with the desired size and style of the plant. Select a shape and color that you personally find aesthetically pleasing. The pot must be large enough to allow enough soil to cover the roots of the plant. You do not want to have such a small amount of soil in the pot that the tree roots can not retain moisture. You will kill the plant if you do not have a large enough pot. At the same time, you want to maintain the illusion of nature and select a pot just large enough to support the tree. The idea of a bonsai is to balance the pot with the plant and make the plant look like a miniature tree. Some bonsai pots do not come with pre-drilled drainage holes. If you do not have a drill that will cut through ceramic, then make sure you purchase a pot with pre-drilled drainage holes.
  5. Prepare the tree. Prune the tree to the desired shape. Wire any branches that need to be wired. Remove the plant from its existing pot and water the roots. Most of the roots will be cut before the plant is repotted into the bonsai pot. Cut away enough roots so that the root system can fit securely in the new pot with the proper amount of soil.
  6. Pot the tree. Install mesh screens over the drainage holes to prevent soil erosion. Add some soil to the pot and then place the tree into the pot. Before covering the top of the roots with soil position the tree in the desired orientation. Run a heavy gauge wire from the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. Tie the wire around the root system in order to hold the plant in place. Finish adding soil to the pot. If it is warm out, make sure to keep the newly planted tree watered well until the roots get established in the new pot.
  7. Experiment. You can experiment with many kinds of trees, plants and shrubs. Try making bonsai with plants native to your area.
  8. Join a club. If you can’t find a local one, there is one online called the Internet Bonsai Club.
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June 22, 2010 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Compost Bins


Besides keeping compost tidy during decomposition, good compost bins retain heat and moisture while keeping out pets and pests, like raccoons and rodents. Selecting the most suitable compost bin encourages regular continued use. Compost bins can be built with minimal materials or purchased.

Selection

Do-it-yourself bins

  • A 3-cubic-foot area is recommended for an initial bin size.
  • With portable compost units, lift vertically and place the structure adjacent to the compost pile. Use a spade to turn the compost layers into the compost bin’s new location.
  • Constructing three-sided bins make the turning process somewhat easier.
  • Consider constructing a sectional bin where successive compost piles are turned into the adjacent bin. Use the compost from the last bin for the garden and continue starting materials in the first bin.

The primary advantages of commercial compost bins are:

  • Construction time saved.
  • Superior rodent proofing.
  • Built-in features to more easily turn or centrally aerate the compost.
  • Direct access to finished material.

To make compost bins attractive outdoor features rather than smelly eyesores, consider these possibilities:

  • Cedar construction.
  • Recycled wine barrel units.
  • Compost bin bench seat.
  • Elegant architectural elements that appear as more formal structures.

Many commercial bins offer add-on features to expand the bin without purchasing an entire unit.

Specialty compost bins are available to effectively decompose meat scraps and pet manure. These are buried in the ground to reduce odors and prevent pest problems.

Depending on the size, materials and features, prices for compost bins range from $35 to $1,200. Before purchasing, evaluate bins to be sure the selected unit:

  • Supports the major garden and household waste to be utilized.
  • Is large enough to accommodate the waste volume generated.

Numerous local governments and civic organizations in the United States offer composting programs. Many of these supply compost bins at greatly reduced prices to encourage program participation.

Worm bins

Worm bins offer another popular way to compost kitchen scraps that can be kept indoors for year-round use. Red worms, purchased by the pound, maintain an excellent reputation for effective processing. Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 worms comprise each pound.

Worm bins can be built inexpensively or purchased. Kits are available that contain bin, bedding, and worms – just add water and waste.

Worm bins produce vermicompost (worm castings), which is a nutrient dense compost material that can be used for top dressing or potting soil, and a liquid by-product, compost tea that can be used for houseplant fertilizer.

As with garden compost bins, avoid using:

  • Fish.
  • Meat scraps.
  • Dairy products.
  • Oils.
  • Pet waste.

Add citrus rinds, onions and broccoli in small amounts to avoid attracting fruit flies or creating strong odors.

Successful worm bins provide:

  • Moisture.
  • Air.
  • Worm food.
  • Darkness.
  • Warm temperatures between 55 degrees and 77 degrees F.

Avoid areas that might reach below freezing or over 90?F that can kill the worms. The bin needs to be at least 8 inches deep since worms live in the upper 6 inches of soil. Newspapers or leaves provide bedding – soak with water then squeeze out excess. Be sure to have a lid to protect from insects and rodents.

Harvest worm castings in 3 to 6 months.

  • Begin harvest by moving material to one side.
  • Apply supplemental bedding and new food sources in the cleared side.
  • Only bury kitchen scraps in the fresh bedding side.

After several weeks, begin to harvest the first side as the worms move to the fresh location.

  • After removing all the worm castings, replenish area with fresh bedding material.

View Compost Bins at CompostBins.com

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Companion Planting


Companion planting, the growing of multiple types of plants in close proximity in order to capitalize on complementary growth patterns, offers a natural and ecologically sensitive way to increase the vitality and productivity of a garden.

As an alternative to chemical fertilizers and soil enrichments, companion planting offers a safe and effective way to optimize the yield of garden crops, a systematic approach to pest control, and a method of fostering the growth of young and tender plants. Practiced since the dawn of agriculture, partnering plants with complementary qualities and characteristics predates the use of modern, potentially harmful agricultural methods.

Companion planting schemes can function in a variety of ways. Gardeners use some plants for their physical qualities: tall stalks can provide shade for young seedlings or a bulky, dense plan can act as a decoy to prevent pests from devouring a food crop. Other plants figure into garden plans because of their helpful qualities, such as attracting desirable insect life or repelling species that can threaten vulnerable vegetables. Some inedible plants cultivated in gardens improve the soil for future use in producing foodstuffs. Charts and reference books provide time-tested pairings that can optimize the output of gardens of any size.

Developed over centuries by generations of farmers and perfected by today’s advanced farming techniques, companion planting provides a natural and effective way to maximize the output of crops by pairing plants with complementary growth patterns.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Common Grass Seeds


Deciding on what type of grass seed you want for your lawn is a personal choice. There are many cultivars of grass seed to choose from. However, the area in which you live may limit what choices are available to you. To find a grass seed most appropriate to the area in which you live, you will need to know your location’s zone.

Knowing your zone

The US is split up into 8 different climate zones. Zone 1 includes warm climate areas such as Florida and the Gulf region. Zone 4 includes areas such as the Midwest and upper Midwest. To find your climate zone, consult a zone map, which can be found on the internet. This will help you determine what types of seed can be grown in your area.

Common cool-season grass seeds

If you live in cool season zone, here is some practical information concerning common cultivars. Most cool season northern states use a mixture of grass types. If general, all of these grasses will brown in summer if they are not given sufficient amounts of water.

  • Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the more popular cool season grasses. This kind of bluegrass seed is both inexpensive and costs very little to maintain. It produces a dense, green sod, with smooth stems that are medium to fine in texture. Kentucky bluegrass grows in almost any type of soil, and is classified as aggressive. Its one major drawback is that it does not do well in drought conditions. It should be mowed to 2 inches in height.
  • Fescue consists of two main cultivars: tall and creeping. Both kinds grow well in slightly acidic, slightly sandy, well-drained soils. This means that they can withstand drought well. Fescue ranges in texture from fine to medium, and stays green year-round. It is an extremely shade tolerant grass, and is often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Ryegrass is one of the most common seed types planted in areas that are particularly cold, such as Minnesota or Maine. It grows in green, tight bunches, and is either annual or perennial. Both annual and perennial grow quickly, like ryegrass. Because it grows in clumps, it is rarely uniform in appearance. Hot summers can cause it to turn yellow. It is often combined with fescue or crabgrass.

Common warm-season grass seeds

Warm season grasses are often grown in the southern states. In general, they require less water than cool season grasses. Here are some common types used in lawns.

  • Zoysia is extremely popular right now. It is often sold as sod, as seeds are not readily available, making it more expensive. Zoysia produces a dense, green turf. It prefers full sun, and will turn yellow in colder climates. Easy to maintain, zoysia grows very slowly and only needs to be mowed every 10 to 14 days.
  • Bermuda is a fast growing, dense, and dark green in color. Seed is available in both common and improved varieties. Bermuda spreads by rhizomes and stolons. It is highly drought-resistant, but will turn brown during colder months. Bermuda is considered aggressive; once established, it is hard to get rid of. On the upside, it is fast repairing.
  • St. Augustine is a dark green grass that is course in texture. It grows well in both salty and alkaline soils, and can withstand ocean salt water well. St. Augustine prefers sunny areas, and doesn’t thrive in shady areas. As seeds can be hard to find, it is often planted as sod or sprigs. If fertilized well, St. Augustine is naturally weed-resistant. 

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Cleaning Seeds: A Few Methods And Tips


First, use proper collection techniques and you’ll spare yourself a lot of tiresome labor. Collect the seed when they are mature or if you collect them on stalks, clusters, flowers or pods, let the seed fully mature and dry so far as they can where they are. A simple shake of the pod etc into a paper bag or bucket will loosen the seeds. There should be a minimum of extra material that will take up your time and attention.

Second, make the technique fit the seed. If you’re collecting flower seeds that mature in hard husks, hang the seed head out on a freezing night or two with a bucket below the head. The action of the cold causes the seeds to pop themselves free of the hard husk and drop into your container. Wild moist fruits, or heritage type tomato seeds can be a problem. Puree the fruit cover with a paper towel and let the liquid ferment a day or three. Then strain out the seeds and dry them. Some seeds mature on a flower, wait, then when they are ready, gently blow, pick, or tap them free. The key? Let nature and natural processes do your work when possible.

Third, utilize proper screens. Some collections have another collection besides seed, and they’re called screens. Screen of various gauges are available. Gauge represents the size of the holes in the screen mesh. Using proper sized sceens to sift the material large debris may be separated from the miniscule seeds you are seeking. Careful slow work with attention to detail is required. Now as to the final step sometimes required (as the Bible says, “separating the wheat from the chaff”) a small fan is your best bet. (A gale force wind outside could quickly destroy you seed collection) Working carefully and from a good distance at first slowly let the seed and chaff drift from one screen to another. The lighter (a relative term) chaff will separate from the desired seeds. (Vibration plates can also do the trick, so you could choose to look into that kind of equipment when you’re ready to dedicate yourself to the preservation of wild, and domestic seed.) This is where real experience and patience pays off.

Fourth, don’t become too much of a perfectionist. A certain amount of chaff and debris is almost inevitable for the home collector. Know when the level of cleaning is sufficient and don’t drive yourself batty – or blind – trying for the elusive 100% standard. Hobbies and avocations are supposed to be enjoyable. Remember that.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Cleaning Planters


 

Planters are great vessels for portable gardening. Cleaning planters is a relatively easy endeavor that keeps your containers beautiful and your plants healthy.

Everybody inside!
Cleaning planters is an involved project. Planters, especially porous glazed clay and terra-cotta, should be brought inside. Moisture collects deep inside pores, so when the freeze comes, planters crack. Wooden decorative planters such as wheelbarrow planters can stay outside. Cleaning planters outside can be as involved as cleaning planters inside, so carry on with the following advice.

Or everybody out!
While cleaning planters, some gardeners empty their pots completely, replacing the old dirt with fresh soil in the spring. New plants love nutrient-rich soil. Also, old soil is compacted, and the roots cannot get air so easily. Exchanging soil make breathing a lot easier. Cleaning planters also alleviates another concern: Old soil is a breading ground for disease, weeds, and insects.

A good scrub
With the old dirt gone, cleaning planters goes full throttle. Spray the planter out with a powerful garden hose. Next, use a stiff-bristled brush and a diluted solution of bleach water to thoroughly scrub inside the planter. This brushing will remove salts and kill any germs or insect eggs hiding inside. Dishwashers are great for cleaning small planters.

But I like these plants!
Of course, you have those plants you want to keep. Planter scrubs needn’t be so devastating. Cleaning planters housing plants such as bonsai trees is easy. Use a mild soap and warm water to wipe off the planter. Any soil caking to the outside can be easily removed with a pocket knife. Be sure to check with your local garden supplier for proper soil care and inspection for your particular plant.

Yearly maintenance will not only extend the life of a planter, it makes the plant inside healthier. Spend an afternoon cleaning planters, and the garden will be gorgeous for many seasons to come.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Caring For Your Lawn In An Environmentally Friendly Way


Caring For Your Lawn In An Environmentally Friendly Way
 
 

 

Picture a healthy green lawn: perfect for lounging, great for ball games and cookouts, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your lawn–and how you take care of it–can also help the environment?Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, who find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

Caring for your lawn properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits. You don’t have to be an expert to grow a healthy lawn. Just keep in mind that the secret is to work with nature. This means creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests. It means setting realistic goals for your lawn, whether you or a professional lawn care service will be doing the work. And if you choose to use pesticides, it means using them with care so as to get the most benefit and reduce any risks.

Caring for your lawn in an environmentally sensible way can have a bigger impact than you might think. Your lawn is only a small piece of land, but all the lawns across the country cover a lot of ground. That means you and your lawn care activities, along with everyone else’s, can make a difference to the environment. And that’s why taking care of the environment begins in our own backyards.
Working With Nature:
A Preventive Health Care Program For Your Lawn

To start, think about lawn care as a preventive health care program, like one you would use to keep up your own health. The idea is to prevent problems from occurring so you don’t have to treat them. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A healthy lawn can out-compete most weeds, survive most insect attacks, and fend off most diseases–before these problems ever get the upper hand.
Your lawn care program should be tailored to local conditions–the amount of rainfall you get, for example, and the type of soil you have. But no matter where you live, you can use the program outlined as a general guide to growing a healthy lawn.

1. Develop Healthy Soil

Good soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. To grow well, your lawn needs soil with good texture, some key nutrients, and the right pH, or acidity/alkalinity balance.

Start by checking the texture of your soil to see whether it’s heavy with clay, light and sandy, or somewhere in between. Lawns grow best in soil with intermediate or “loamy” soils that have a mix of clay, silt, and sand. Whatever soil type you have, you can probably improve it by periodically adding organic matter like compost, manure, or grass clippings. Organic matter helps to lighten a predominantly clay soil and it helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients.

Also check to see if your soil is packed down from lots of use or heavy clay content. This makes it harder for air and water to penetrate, and for grass roots to grow. To loosen compacted soil, some lawns may need to be aerated several times a year. This process involves pulling out plugs of soil to create air spaces, so water and nutrients can again penetrate to the grass roots.

Most lawns need to be fertilized every year, because they need more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than soils usually contain. These three elements are the primary ingredients found in most lawn fertilizers. It’s important not to over-fertilize…you could do more harm to your lawn than good…and it’s best to use a slow-release fertilizer that feeds the lawn slowly. It’s also important to check the soil’s pH. Grass is best able to absorb nutrients in a slightly acidic soil, with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Soil that is too acidic can be “sweetened” with lime; soil that’s not acid enough can be made more sour by adding sulfur.

Have your soil tested periodically to see whether it needs more organic matter or the pH needs adjusting. Your county extension agent (listed in your phone book under county government) or local nursery should be able to tell you how to do this. These experts can also help you choose the right fertilizer, compost, and other “soil amendments,” and they can advise you about aerating if your soil is compacted. If a professional service takes care of your lawn, make sure it takes these same steps to develop good soil. There’s no getting around it: your lawn’s health is only as good as the soil it grows in.

2. Choose A Grass Type That Thrives In Your Climate

The right type of grass–one that suits your needs and likes the local weather–will always give better results. Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients they need, their resistance to pests, their tolerance for shade, and the degree of wear they can withstand.

If you are putting in a new lawn, it will be worth your while to do some research to identify the best grass type for your needs.
If you’re working with an established lawn that fails to thrive despite proper care, you might consider replanting with a different type of grass.

Why struggle to grow grass that’s susceptible to fungal disease if you live in a humid climate? Or a water-loving species if you live in an area with water shortages? Grass that is well-adapted to your area will grow better and resist local pests and diseases better. New grass varieties and mixtures come out on the market every year.

3. Mow High, Often and With Sharp Blades

Mowing high–that is, keeping your lawn a bit long–will produce stronger, healthier grass with fewer pest problems.

Longer grass has more leaf surface to take in sunlight. This enables it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system, which in turn helps the grass survive drought, tolerate insect damage, and fend off diseases. Longer grass also shades the soil surface keeping it cooler, helping it retain moisture, and making it difficult for weeds to germinate and grow.

A lawn’s ideal length will vary with the type of grass, but many turf grass species are healthiest when kept between 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 inches. The ruler at the back of this brochure will help the best mowing height for your grass variety. You may have to readjust your mower–most are set too low.

It’s also important to mow with sharp blades to prevent tearing and injuring the grass. And it’s best to mow often, because grass adjusts better to frequent than infrequent mowing. The rule of thumb is to mow often enough that you never cut more than one-third of the height of the grass blades. Save some time and help your lawn and the environment by leaving short clippings on the grass–where they recycle nitrogen–rather than sending them in bags to the landfill.

You don’t have to grow a foot-high meadow to get good results. Just adding an inch will give most lawns a real boost

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Cactus Plant Care


Another perennial plant type that is quite famous all over the world is cactus. Cacti are also known as low maintenance plants. It is the best indoor plant type, as they require little attention for their healthy growth. There is a wide variety of shapes, sizes and color of cactus. Cacti are called as perennial plants because they will be growing year after year.

Cactus plant care

Potting

  • Cactus should be placed under adequate sunlight.
  • They should be sowed in pots having a good drainage system.
  • Remove one inch of soil form the top. Replace it with gravel.
  • The soil should be a mixture of sand, peat and perlite.
  • Cactus growing vertically should be sowed in container whose diameter is half the height of the plant.
  • Cacti that are growing breadth wise should be grown on containers, which are having 2 inches of diameter extra than the plant.
  • Recently sowed or repotted plants have more chances of getting rot.
  • The soil should be dry enough while the sowing or repotting is been done. Watering should be done after a week so that the roots are healed within the time.

Cactus grows very slowly. Some cactus takes a year to germinate and to know how they look like it takes again some years. They can breed through branches or from a part of the plant. The part of the plant is removed from the main plant and dried for 2 weeks. After the cut portion is healed then it is planted in shallow soil.

Watering
Cactus needs less watering so water them when they dry out. It is better to use clay pots without any glaze, as it needs less water than glazed or plastic pots.

Most of the cactus plant type requires a period for rest so that they can flower the rest of the year. The exact time required for cactus plant keeps varying but in general it is within three months. They are quite friendly to the chill weather and during the winter they should be watered less with no fertilizer application.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Build Your Own Garden Pond


Because building someone else’s garden pond would be trespassing.

Building your own garden pond is not as difficult as you might think. If you have opposable thumbs you can wield a shovel, and if you’re not legally blind you can properly position a pool liner. Often the most time-consuming part of building water garden ponds is filling them with water. So set your mind at ease, and read on for simple instructions on how to build your own garden pond.

Purpose

Chances are that if you’re standing in your backyard with shovel in hand, you’ve already decided why you like garden ponds. Then again, if it’s after midnight and you have a beer in the other hand, your reasons might be a little too impulsive.

The purpose of garden ponds plays a significant role in garden pond designs. If you want fish, your pond should be deeper and larger. If you want water lilies, it should be positioned for maximum sun.

Above ground or in ground

One more digression: many first-timers decide to purchase preformed above ground ponds. Above ground ponds are also simple to build. So if the in-ground thing seems a little daunting, try researching above ground water garden ponds.

Building in ground garden ponds

Begin by laying a garden house on the ground. Move it around until it resembles the shape you want your garden pond to be. Before you start digging, run through a quick mental checklist:

  • Is this the right size?
  • Is this the right location?
  • Am I sure there are no utility lines I’m going to “discover”?
  • Do I know the exact depth this garden pond needs to be?

The commonest mistake at this point is for garden ponds to be sized too small. A good rule of thumb to follow is that garden ponds will look about one-third smaller than you initially expect. However, that doesn’t mean you should turn your backyard into a tribute to Waterworld.

Now you dig. Create a shelf or shallows by digging a perimeter that slopes to about one foot wide and one foot deep. This encourages birds to visit garden ponds. Unless you want fish, water garden ponds don’t need to be much deeper than 18 inches anyway.

Once you’re achieved the shape you want, dig any needed ditches for pond skimmers, filters, or waterfalls, for example from a submersible pump/skimmer to an external filter/waterfall.

Liner notes

There was a time when concrete was the favored liner for garden ponds, but not anymore. Flexible synthetic or rubber pond liners are going to be easier for you to position than rigid ones. We recommend putting a layer of sand or roofing foam between the soil and your garden pond liner to provide a cushion to prevent rupturing.

Put the water garden pond liner in the excavated hole and unfold it, smoothing out wrinkles without being obsessive-compulsive. Connect the pond liner to the skimmer if you have one, and hold the liner in place with rocks set around the perimeter of the hole. How much time you spend on this depends on how natural you want your water garden pond to look. A more organic appearance can be achieved if you’ve dug a slope that permits multiple layers of stone.

Water time

Once you’ve completed any excavations necessary for skimmers or waterfalls, it’s time to fill your garden pond. Fill slowly, allowing the liner to gradually conform to the shape of the ground. If your garden pond liner is sticking out over the pool edge, don’t trim it until after the pond has filled. The weight of the water should pull it down as it fills.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment

Benefits Of Compost


Composting gives new meaning to the expression dirt-cheap. It is environmentally friendly and provides good land stewardship by reducing:

  • Yard waste collection costs.
  • Household waste collection costs by rerouting most kitchen scraps to the compost pile.
  • Gardening costs by providing a renewable nutrient soil source.

Many communities now have composting programs using residential yard waste.

Composting basics

The secret to good compost is:

  • Layering.
  • Layering.
  • Layering.

Composting occurs when organic waste is mixed with air and moisture, allowing decomposition into a multipurpose, nutrient rich, gardening instrument. Both air and water are needed to allow the microorganisms to break down the material.

Alternate carbon and nitrogen material layers:
Nitrogen sources:

  • Grass clippings.
  • Manure.
  • Alfalfa meal.
  • Cottonseed meal.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Tea bags.
  • Spoiled juice.
  • Wilted fresh flower bouquets.
  • Feathers.

Carbon sources:

  • Leaves.
  • Shredded newspaper.
  • Pizza or other food contaminated cardboard boxes not suitable for recycling.
  • Dried flowers.
  • Bread.
  • Cereal.
  • Beans.
  • Spices.

Since smaller pieces breakdown more quickly, it is well worth the effort to hand shred materials before composting. Pound broccoli stalks to speed decomposition. Consider a chipper for reducing yard waste before composting.

Contact local coffee shops for used coffee grounds, which are often available to the public when the request is called ahead. Bury citrus rinds in the compost pile to minimize fruit flies.

To ensure air circulation allowing microorganisms to work effectively, construct compost bin using:

  • Chicken wire.
  • Cinder blocks.
  • Lattice work or snow fencing.

Select a location that will receive some shade to prevent overheating.
A beginning formula for yard waste compost:
Layer 6 inches of leaves, 2 inches of manure, and 1 inch soil mixed with limestone.

Composting is too smelly

Even excellent compost produces odors. However, strong odors may indicate an imbalance in materials or too much moisture.

  • Review the mix of carbon and nitrogen sources and adjust as necessary.
  • Compost moisture should be wet without dripping when squeezed.
  • Add dry material, such as dried leaves, if a rotten egg odor is evident, indicating excessive moisture.
  • Ending the layers with a soil-limestone cover helps minimize odors.
  • Many commercially available compost bins are closed to accelerate the composting process while reducing odors.

Care and use

Turn compost every two to three weeks to reactivate processing, as the microorganisms will consume the available oxygen and need additional aeration to maintain maximum efficiency.

  • Add water to dry areas when turning compost.
  • Slow activity may indicate need for more moisture or more nitrogen material.
  • Earthworm activity a good productivity indicator.

After three to four weeks, depending on conditions, begin using the compost.

  • Apply only the fine material.
  • Return large chunks to the pile for further processing.
  • Provide organic matter wherever needed in the garden.
  • In drier climates use compost as a nutrient providing mulch.
  • Also an excellent potting soil.

Use an additive to accelerate decomposition if desired.

What not to compost

To avoid attracting unwanted animals to your garden area always bury food scraps in the compost pile and avoid adding:

  • Fish.
  • Meat scraps.
  • Bones.
  • Dairy products.
  • Fatty foods.
  • Oils.

Materials not suitable to compost:

  • Pet manure.
  • Metals.
  • Plastics.
  • Glass.
  • Large amounts of sawdust.
  • Weeds with seeds.

Special systems are available to breakdown pet manure.

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Garden | Leave a comment