PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Sustainability"

grass cut with a dull blade

How Sharp Are Your Blades?

August 05, 2016

Can't remember the last time you sharpened your lawnmower blades? Then your mower is probably overdue.

Why does it matter? Dull mower blades tear grass, which invites fungus infections. If your grass has ragged edges or you can see white fibers hanging from the tips, your mower blades are too dull.

Lawn mushroom

Does your lawn seem to turn into a mushroom patch overnight?

That's OK! Mushrooms generally do not indicate poor lawn health and will not damage your lawn. Typically, they are the fruiting bodies of beneficial soil fungi that sprout after a rainfall.

Don't want them? Knock them over with a rake or broom and wait for the sun to return.

If it hasn't been raining, those mushrooms may be caused by over watering or poor drainage. Remember our tip about watering seldom, watering deep?

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!

Drip irrigation

Got new trees and shrubs? Drip irrigation can be an effective way to keep them well-hydrated this summer, but keep in mind the following before you put down those hoses:

  • Place drip tubes beyond the root ball, as well as on it, to encourage roots to grow into the surrounding soil.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs seldom (less often than your lawn) and deep (12-18"). Too much watering encourages excess growth, a magnet for fungus diseases and sucking insects.
  • Remove tubes after two years. Your plants will be well-established and just won't need the irrigation anymore.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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