Cyclone Rake Blog: Compost
Showing posts with label Compost. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Compost. Show all posts

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring Seeding Dead Spots in the Yard


        Winter can be hard on your yard. Snow and cold, wet weather can create conditions for turf disease. Damage from winter traffic and, especially in urban areas, materials used to treat roads can also create dead patches in nearby yards. Critters like voles can also create winter damage. By following widely recommended growing practices, and giving those dead spots some careful care, you can patch those spots this spring.
            Many turfgrasses are cool-season grasses, meaning they are ideally established in the
Compost acts as a slow-release
fertilizer for your turf. 
fall. But spring patching for winter dead spots is very possible. If you do decide to patch spots this spring, pay special attention to the soil. Dead spots could be the result of disease or cold-weather kill; but poor soil fertility and drainage can also make it tough for grass to thrive. Thoroughly work up the soil before seeding, when the soil is not too wet, adding plenty of organic matter, like compost. Compost adds structure to the soil and acts as a slow-release fertilizer, providing turf with necessary nutrients. Spreading about an inch of compost across existing turf also can also provide soil-building benefits.

            Newly seeded turf needs to be kept moist, but not soggy – a challenge during periods of heavy spring rains. Heavy rains can wash soil away from seeds; try using burlap, or synthetic materials available at most garden centers, which may be placed over grass seeding on dead spots to manage erosion. These covers also can prevent intrusion and seed-snatching by birds and other hungry critters. One benefit to spring seeding: there are usually plenty of other things for critters to munch in the spring, making your new lawn seeding a less attractive option in the spring smorgasbord for wildlife.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Composting Made Easy


Composting is a simple way to improve the health of your garden or yard by adding nutrient-dense mixtures overtop. The best part is it’s 100% free to do and is excellent for the environment. Here’s how to get started composting.

What You Need…

First things first, gather your materials.
  • A container: Choose a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ container that is made of wood or even hard plastic. For small scale composting recycle an old, large garbage can and simply drill a hole in the bottom of the container for drainage. 
  • Find a shady spot: Compost thrives in a shaded environment. Choose an area in your yard that doesn’t get a ton of sun throughout the day. 
  • Browns and greens: Browns include leaves, wood chips, straw, branches, and the like. Greens are eggshells, grass, carrot tops and so forth. 
  • Manure: This is optional, but ideal if you want to get the most out of your compost.
  • Water hose: You’ll need to water your compost occasionally, so get a water hose if you don’t have one. 
  • Pitchfork: Trust us, you’ll want this tool if you’re mixing or moving compost. 

How to Do It…

  1. Compost requires a three to one ratio for browns and greens. Browns are carbon-rich and greens are nitrogen rich.
  2. Start by adding those carbon-rich browns to your barrel. Once those are good and packed in. You can start adding your greens. 
  3. When it’s time to add new material, use your pitchfork, to dig a hole and then add in the new stuff. Mix it thoroughly with the old compost.
  4. Finally, add water. You’ll want to do this occasionally to moisten the mixture to keep bacteria and microbes consuming the contents.

Tips for Composting

  • Include activators like chicken manure, earthworms, and comfrey leaves to help break down the greens and browns.
  • Steaming compost piles are a good sign that your hard work is paying off, so don’t panic if you see it coming from your pile!
  • Reduce odors by leaving out meat scraps and bones in your compost.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started with your compost pile by using these helpful tips today!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Get Ready To Compost!


The weather has warmed up, and you have run out of excuses to finally build that compost bin – a magical contraption that you’ve heard turns yard waste and kitchen scraps into fluffy, nutrient-dense, black gold. Whether you’re most interested in form or function, a compost bin is a valuable – and even attractive – addition to the backyard.

Composting guidelines – and free plans for composter construction – are available from the Extension service in many states. What type of composter you choose depends on how much money you wish to spend, how much space you have for the composter and how much raw material you’re generating for composting.

Barrel-style Composter
For smaller yards, a barrel-style composter may be a good fit. This composter relies on frequently turning the raw wastes to make compost. Barrel composters are available for purchase from many gardening companies, but it is relatively inexpensive to make your own, especially if you can find a cheap or free barrel. Hint: look for one that has hauled non-toxic or food-grade ingredients.

Check out the plans for barrel composters, and other composters, from the University of Wisconsin Extension at http://www4.uwm.edu/shwec/composter/how-to-build-a-compost-bin.cfm. Smaller yards and homeowners might also check out self-contained worm composters; consult university plans for good guidelines.

Wire Mesh Compost Bin
The wire mesh bin is one of the simplest – and least expensive - compost bins. It involves encircling galvanized garden mesh (chicken wire) and piling your yard waste inside. There are lots of variations on this kind of bin; bins made from wooden snow fence are similar. Some basic plans are available from the University of Missouri at http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6957

Smaller bins can cost around $100 – or much less. A common design for a standalone compost bin, which may take months to break down materials, is a 3’ x 3’ or 4’ x 4’ wood slat bin. One common design uses leftover shipping pallets for construction. The key for this bin, like any good composter, is making sure the compost structure has openings for air to circulate.

3-bin Wood and Wire Composter
If you have more space, lots of compostable materials and a bigger budget, consider a three-bin wood and wire unit.This unit depends on turning and moving the composting materials from bin to bin, depending on the stage of decomposition.

The construction materials for a three-bin unit may be matched to your existing construction and landscape. Serious vegetable gardeners and homeowners generating compostable materials during much of the year enjoy the three-bin system. A design is available from Cornell University, which has posted a PDF file with various composter designs at http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/designs
compostingsystems.pdf

For more information, check out the composter page and review compost basics at http://www.extension.org/pages/13191/soils-and-composting