PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Feeding"

Bare soil in winter

Bundling up Your Garden Beds

December 15, 2016

Just like your skin, soil craves warmth and moisture during the dry, cold winter months. Bare soil is prone to drying out and freezing, which can damage roots and affect soil quality.

The best protection for your garden beds? The leaves that naturally fall from the trees and plants on your property. Not only will they insulate your soil over the winter, they’ll feed it, too. Leaves decompose over the winter and build the amount of organic matter in your soil, providing natural nutrients that are essential for soil health and reducing the need for additional fertilizer. (Do you ever see bare soil like this in forest floor?)

Plus, you’ll be saving yourself the trouble of raking and bagging, and keeping organic material out of your local landfill. It’s a win for you, your garden, and the planet.

Don’t forget: Leaves are called “leaves” for a reason!

Worm compost

Temps are dropping, winter is coming. Too cold for your compost to keep cooking?

Not if you bring it inside! With an indoor worm composting tower, you can actively compost all year long. Worms (red wigglers are best) live within these self-contained systems, turning food scraps and bedding (shredded newspaper, coconut fiber) into nutrient-rich compost. Once they’ve eaten through a tray of food scraps—raw fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, tea leaves, or finely crushed eggs shells—in the tower, the worms wiggle up to the next, leaving behind a tray of food for your houseplants or garden.

Worried about bugs? Or smell? Keep the bedding:food ratio 1:1 and skip the meat, dairy, and citrus.

Worm composting towers come in a range of sizes and materials. In our office, we use the Worm Factory 360 with red wigglers from Nature’s Good Guys. Yes, worms in the mail!

Worm compost tower

Leaves on lawn

Give Your Rake a Break

October 21, 2016

Got leaves on your lawn? This time of year, who doesn't?

We've got good news: Instead of spending your weekend raking and bagging, you can run your mower right over those leaves instead. Mulched leaves not only protect and feed the plants you love, they also help control plants you don't love. Next spring, those chopped up leaf bits can block sunlight from germinating dandelion seeds and other sun-loving weeds.

Need a special mower? Not necessarily. Mulching mowers are most effective, but regular mowers mulch leaves, too. Run your mower over the leaves a couple times and be sure to bag your mower bag.

Compost

To Brew? Or Not to Brew?

July 08, 2016

Last week, we talked about the benefits of natural fertilizers like compost and compost tea. So what's the difference between the two? Why brew tea when you could just apply compost?

COMPOST:

+ High in microbial content to feed your soil
+ Contains some soluble nutrients to feed your plants
+ Rich in organic matter that helps improve soil structure
– Heavy and messy to apply
– Will end up all over your clothes (and your kids and pets) if you play on a lawn treated with compost. Best to apply in spring or fall.

COMPOST TEA:

+ High in microbial content to feed your soil
+ Contains some soluble nutrients to feed your plants
+ Only requires a small amount of compost to feed a large area of land
+ Easy to apply throughout the year using a sprayer or watering can
+ Good for lawns or gardens that need to recharge their microbial battery
– Does not contain organic matter for your soil
– Requires special equipment to brew (but our how-to instructions make it easy)

You can buy a compost tea brewing system or make your own at home. Whichever system you use, you will need a heavy-duty pump to aerate the water sufficiently. Proper aeration encourages beneficial microbes to multiply and discourages harmful microbes from growing in your tea. A fish aquarium bubbler will not be strong enough.

1. Start with great compost. Blending two or three composts together will give you a great variety of beneficial microbes. Put your compost in a mesh strainer bag (you can find them at the local hardware store in the paint section).

2. Fill your brewer with water and run the pump for 20 minutes to de-gas any chlorine.

compost tea brewer

3. Put your compost bag in the water while the brewer is running. Hang the bag from the edge of the bucket to expose as much of the compost as possible to the bubbling water.

4. Check the color of the water to make sure it is getting significantly darker, which indicates that microbes are being extracted from the compost.

compost tea brewer

5. Add food to feed the microbes. Suggested foods include molasses, kelp, humic acid, and fish emulsion.

6. Brew for 24 hours.

compost tea brewer

7. Decant your tea and use within six hours. Mix two parts water with one part compost tea and apply using a watering can or sprayer.

8. Clean your brewer immediately.

9. Brew more tea!

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