Archive for the ‘Compost’ Category

Making your own mulch from recycled yard waste, etc.

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

By Catherine Haug, July 8, 2017

Today’s Daily Inter Lake featured an article, How do  you make your own mulch? by Paul Pogue for Angie’s list (1). He breaks it down to 5 steps:

  1. Choose your mulch source from: leaves, pine or fir needles, yard clippings, bark, and branches or other wood trimmings, straw, shredded newspaper, and compost. pay attention to the season: B yard trimmings and compost are excellent for summer mulch; bark is especially nutrient-rich, and along with pine needles and straw are best for winter. pCat’s note: I save the composted fir needles from my gutters to mulch my raspberry bed; raspberries like a slightly acidic soil and fir needles are acidic.]
  2. Collect your materials into piles; if using a compost pile, maintain it by keeping it relatively moist. He also advises turning it regularly, but that is a highly debated issue. When it’s ready, it should be humbly and dark brown with an earthy odor. [Cat’s note: See my 2009 posting: What makes your compost tick?]
  3. Convert the materials: use your lawnmower to cut up a pile of leaves; use a small wood chipper to turn bark, branches and other wood trimmings into tiny pieces.[Cat’s note: shred newspapers with your paper shredder, or tear them into shreds manually.]
  4. Prepare the ground: remove old mulch to your compost pile. Weed the area carefully (mulch will help existing weeds to grow – just what you don’t want).
  5. Spread the mulch: generally about 2″ thick works well. Even it out with a rake, leaving a small ‘well’ of shallower mulch around the base of plants.

Read on for more about mulching. (more…)

Composting for Carbon Sequestration

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
Compost Bin at Community Garden in Ferndale

Compost Bin at Community Garden in Ferndale

By Catherine Haug, May 24, 2016 (photo, right, by C. Haug)

Since the dawn of agriculture – if not before – humans have returned ‘waste’ foods to the earth, to feed the earth and keep it whole. But in the late 1800s, feeding and protecting the earth was shoved into the background, and by mid 20th century was all but forgotten by modern society, especially in the US. Instead, it all went into landfills, combined with other waste – out of sight, out of mind – where it takes much much longer to break down.

Tilling the soil, which breaks up and murders the soil’s microbiome, weakening its ability to help plants thrive. The Great Dust Bowl in the 1930s may have been started by drought, but it was fueled by the tilled soils on the Great Plains.

The manufacture of chemical fertilizers (see my post Organic vs chemical fertilization for farms, gardens for more), using ‘fixed nitrogen’ originally made from petroleum to produce bombs for the war, pretty much sealed the casket of those dying soils.  Our great American carbon sink has turned into a wasteland that produces food only through the use of ag-chemicals, and that food is sub-par nutritionally.

But it’s not too late to fix the harm we’ve done. “…a single one-half-inch dusting of compost on rangeland can boost the soil’s carbon storage for at least 30 years.” (1,2) Read on for more about this. (more…)

Importance of Regenerative Agriculture

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

by Catherine Haug, Thanksgiving, 2015

I first learned of ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ last spring when I watched a PBS documentary (1) on the subject. That 26 minute video is still available to watch online (1).

Our modern farming methods treat soil like dirt, instead of giving it the love and respect it deserves. We don’t understand how important microbes are to the soil, that they convert nutrients in the soil to a form the plants can utilize. To flourish, they need carbon (and oxygen) in the soil, but we let the carbon escape into the atmosphere, warming the earth and leading to climate change.

Regenerative agriculture is about giving back to the soil with rich compost, humus, and biochar, to return carbon to the soil and provide microbes that connect the plants to the nutrients in the soil.
(more…)

2014: International Year of Family Farming (& Gardening)

Monday, April 7th, 2014
Veggie Landscape Garden

Veggie Landscape Garden

by Catherine Haug, April 2014 (Photo, right, from Mercola: Who Knew Vegetable Gardens Could Be So Revolutionary?)

Did you know the UN has designated this year, 2014, and the International Year of Family Farming, to bring attention and recognition to the family farmers that are helping to nourish the world? This includes all of us who have gardens in our front or back yards.

Read on for:

  • You can garden ‘even if’;
  • Food for your garden

(more…)

Gathering Notice: Getting More out of your Garden, Farm and Homestead through Permaculture Techniques with Kelly Ware, April 17 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Catherine Haug, April 2, 2014

ESP and BERT (Bigfork Emergency Resource Team) are co-hosting this event:

  • What: Getting more out of your garden, Farm and Homestead Through Permaculture Techniques, with Kelly Ware; hosted by Essential Stuff Project (ESP) and Bigfork Emergency Resource Team (BERT)
  • When: Thursday evening, April 17, 2014, 7 – 8 PM
  • Where: Bigfork Middle School Cafeteria (600 Commerce St, Bigfork MT)
  • Who: Free and open to the public; no preregistration required.
  • Contact: Catherine at 837-4577 (Cat@essentialstuff.org), or Bruce at 837-0923

Additional Information: read on for more info about the event, and a link to a flyer.. (more…)

Organic Gardening: The Problem of Contaminated Manure

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
Frankenfood

Frankenfood

by Catherine Haug, April 23, 2014 (Image, right, used with permission from the Organic Consumers Association)

We all want to eat plant food that is healthful, not only for us but also for the soil in which it is grown, for the water that quenches its thirst, and for the air which provides the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.Yet most of the food in grocery stores and supermarkets does not meet that criteria. Instead, it contains GMO ingredients and as a consequence is contaminated with plant-killing chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup) and animal-killing chemical pesticides.

So we turn to foods that are raised organically – both plant and animal foods. Some of us raise our own. However, in our quest for organic, healthful food, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot. For example: (more…)