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Protection & Precaution Gardening Tips

Protection in the Garden
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Gardening is indeed a wonderful thing to do for many reasons. Its contributions to good health are our favorites. What did you learn from this video? How will this help you garden better or simply move better without encouraging injury? Who do you know that can benefit from knowing this information?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Growing Echinacea

Growing Echinacea
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Harvesting Echinacea and Growing it are two different things. Before we can Harvest Echinacea let us first discuss how to growing it into a beautiful and delicious Harvest. What did you learn new from the video? How will it help you with your in and outdoor plants? What questions do you have? Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Compost & Coffee Grounds

In are article yesterday we discussed composting: how to compost and what the benefits are of composting. This reminded one of our readers of the benefits of one of her favorite drinks, coffee, to composting. Click here to view her comment. Consequently, we decided to talk a little more about this nitrogen rich resource. So we sought out gardeningknowhow.com for a little more clarification on the topic.

As we discuss urban environments, coffee is an ideal source for compositing and fertilizing for the gardener in more urban settings. Unlike other sources of composting materials coffee grounds produce fewer concerns for disease and can be added to a compost mix or added directly to the soil as a fertilizer. While you are composting your coffee grounds you can also add your coffee filters to your compost pile or mix.

When adding coffee grounds to your compost mix remember that they are considered green compost and will thus need a brown compost material added to it in the proper ratio (2:1. 2 parts green to one part brown). If you add ground coffee to soil as a fertilizer, it will not directly add nitrogen to soil however it will:

  • add organic material to the soil
    • improves drainage
    • improve water retention
    • improve aeration in the soil
  • help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive
  • attract earthworms

Unwashed coffee grounds can

  • lower the pH (or raise the acid level) of soil, which is good for acid loving plants

Fresh coffee grounds are acidic while used coffee grounds are neutral. If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH of 6.5 and will not affect the acid levels of the soil. To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, work the coffee grounds into the soil around your plants. Leftover diluted coffee works well like this also.

There are several other uses for used coffee grounds in gardening:

  • keeping slugs and snails away from plants
  • some people also claim that coffee grounds act as a cat repellent and will keep cats from using your garden as a litter box
  •  worm food if you do vermicomposting with a worm bin

What do you have around the house that you can use in your composting? Remember if you only have plants around the house, you can also do this: use your old coffee grounds. Separating organic endeavors from environmental endeavors is difficult because they both pay homage to nature and are essentially the flip side of the same coin. How can re-purposing items you typically throw away help you save money? What can that do for the environment? How can composting even on a small scale improve the quality of your food and health? What is the one food you eat the most of? How can growing that one food change your health and diet? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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How to Compost

There are essentially three major ways to compost. We will be covering 2 out of three. The first way, the one we will not cover here, is making your own compost on the bare ground. As we shared earlier because we are largely focusing on more urban rather than rural areas we will be focusing on the Compost Tumbler or enclosed Bins as well as the store bought compost options. Urban spaces typically lack the space needed to dedicate to cultivating compost. Compost is also a delicate processes. Although it is a fairly simple process, because you are dealing with decomposition and microorganisms disease prevention and sanitary needs must be carefully attended to when taking on composting. Nonetheless, if you have questions about composting piles made on the bare ground, just ask and we will answer your questions.

Tumblers  

A tumbler is simply a barrel of sorts that can be rotated or turned to promote air flow and encourage the compositing process. Commercial tumblers are typically made from recycled plastics. The tumbler is filled with compost friendly material according to the directions of the tumbler. Compost friendly materials include such items as:

  • grass clippings
  • tree leaves
  • vegetable food scraps (coffee grounds, lettuce, potato peels, banana peels, avocado skins, etc.)
  • black and white newspaper
  • printer paper
  • most disease free yard waste
  • cardboard
  • animal manure (e.g. cows, horses, rabbits, hamsters, etc.)
  • Wood shavings or sawdust

Tumblers are more ideal for urban settings because the composting process is contained within the bin, barrel or tumbler. It is also activated with commercial starters, manures, already finished compost, garden soil or nothing at all. The organic materials are broken down, as in the compost heap method, by microbes and other living organisms fueled by oxygen. To encourage the composting process the tumbler is turned twice or three times a week, mixing the microbes with the organic material while infusing fresh supplies of oxygen. The key here is that the tumbler keeps the materials contained, as well as the heat the process generates. In a month or two fresh compost is produced. As gardener’s say, you now have black gold. This is still technically making it yourself.

A Quick Guide to Buying Compost

There are four main types of compost that are commercially sold by the bag as Bonnie Plants shares with us. Keep in mind that you may need a lot of compost to cover your area in which case it may be best to buy bulk. However, some compost will instruct you to use it sparingly as too much of some of the composts’ content may not be good for the plants that you are growing or the soil you are cultivating.

Type 1: Yard Waste Compost

Yard waste compost is made from leaves and grass clippings. It has a light texture similar to peat moss and is usually inexpensive. It is sold in bags or may be even offered for free from municipal mulch piles. Some municipalities also deliver composted leaves by the load for a fee. Check with your city or county government to see if this service is available. Local Master Gardeners may also know where you can get free yard waste compost. Yard waste compost is especially beneficial to heavy clay soil or any soil that contains very little organic matter. Yard waste compost is a great source of organic matter, but it’s lean on nutrients. Don’t forget the fertilizer when you prepare planting space with this type of compost.

Type 2: Manure Compost

Composted manure may be made from cow, horse, or poultry manures that have been combined with sawdust, yard waste, or other high-carbon materials to create a rich yet heavy-textured compost. A little goes a long way, especially in naturally fertile soils. Composted manure contains several important nutrients, so you can reduce fertilizer application rates by half when using this type of compost. Organic growers who incorporate composted manure into the soil in bulk do so in the fall to make sure that bacterial pathogens from the manure are gone by the time the crop is planted. The bagged composted manure that you’ll find in garden centers has usually been treated to kill bacteria.

Type 3: Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost starts out as rich and hot compost made from straw and horse or cow manure or plant meals. Then, just as the compost cools down, it is inoculated with mushroom spawn and given just the right conditions to produce delicious button mushrooms. After the mushrooms fruit, the leftover soil is packaged and resold. Mushroom compost is often smelly when you first open the bag, but the odor goes away in a few days. It contains several important nutrients, so you can reduce fertilizer application rates by about one third when using this type of compost.

Type 4: VermiCompost

Vermicompost or worm castings are produced from manures, food wastes, and paper, yard waste, or other bulky material. Under carefully controlled conditions, the ingredients are processed by millions of redworms, and their waste becomes vermincompost. Before it is sold, vermincompost is usually mixed with high-quality soil to improve its texture and dilute its nutrients. The potency of vermicompost varies among products, so follow application rates given on the product’s label. Too much vermicompost can injure plant roots and flood the soil with excessive salts. Vermicompost is best used to prepare soil for root crops or as a midseason pick-me-up for peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetables that bear for a long time. Ever-bearing strawberries grown in containers also respond well to topdressing with vermicompost.

How will you choose to compost? Why is that method of composting good for you? What do you think are the benefits of composting? How can you save by composting? Share your thoughts with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Why Compost

Eliot Coleman, master gardener, like compost and makes his own. Composting involves microorganisms and the decomposition of waste such as leaves, vegetable scraps (like potato peels) and old tea bags. It is a slow, simple and methodical process. However, it is a careful process that must be watched, maintained and kept disease free while being made. You must also have the space to dedicate to the cultivation of compost. Some people create compost in a matter of months while people like Coleman takes at least over a year to make his.

Compost cannot only be an Organic, Natural and Environmentally friendly product highly reducing your footprint, most gardeners would tell you it is like having Black Gold. In our research we discovered that composting should be done when planting. While we still have several transplants to plant, most of our plants have been transplanted or were sown directly into the ground. So, we really missed the opportunity to use compost, which means we will probably fertilize more to attempt to enrich the soil and consequently the plants.

Nonetheless, we wanted to share the benefits of compost with you as you can begin to prepare and plan your composting for next season. Similar to the Soil Blocks recommended by Coleman, there are many ways to save money when composting yourself like many of the recommendations Coleman makes. While we have opted to go with store bought compost given the fact that we are in a more urban environment and lack the space we feel we need to compost in an effective manner, although compost tumblers are a good option. We think this is the best way for us to begin because we would like to work on disease management and understanding how plants thrive at this point in our journey.

Making your own compost whether on bare ground or via a tumbler you will reap the following benefits:

  • save money
  • save resources
  • improve your soil
  • reduce your impact on the environment
  • increases soil stability
  • improves drainage
  • retains moisture
  • nutrients are not washed away by rain
  • zero waste
  • free or repurposed materials
  • reduces landfill waste
  • re-purposes valuable resources
  • use less water because of water retention
  • reduces cost of public waste disposal
  • prolongs the life of landfills
  • 40% of residential waste is compostable
  • returns valuable nutrients to the soil which helps maintain soil quality and fertility
  • compost is a mild, slow release, natural fertilizer that won’t burn plants like chemical fertilizers
  • It also improves texture and air circulation for heavier soils (like Manitoba gumbo)
  • It helps to increase the water retention of sandy soils
  • It provides organic matter and nutrients which improve plant growth and harvest yields.

Compost is like nature’s way of recycling if it could. Applying compost to your garden will both fertilize the soil and feed the soil with a diversity of nutrients and microorganisms that will improve plant growth. Chemical fertilizers are just not a part of our Organic Journey because they only provide a quick burst of a limited number of nutrients that can wash away into our rivers and streams.

Do you use compost in your garden now? How can you introduce compost to your garden this year or next year? What ways can you get started with planning your garden and preparing your soil for planting next year? What would you like to grow next year? If you did not begin your garden this year, will you begin one next year? How can you start planning and preparing for your garden? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.