Compost Each Spring, The Planet Digs It!
One of the most important and intriguing classes I’ve ever taken in my landscape education, was about the soil. It is the foundation and the environmental anchor of the landscape. If your soil isn’t healthy, your garden will suffer.
Much like our own bodies, we will only get out of it, what we put in. (Above is a nutrient poor clay and rock dirt, with little to offer much more than weeds.) If we are eating chemical laden foods, and sugar filled liquids instead of foods rich in minerals and proper hydration, we will not have the energy we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Plants are the same way; the success of trees, shrubs and plants depends on the health of your soil and the soluble nutrients it provides to your plants.
Above is a compost rich, amended soil that is rich with food for healthy fungi like the “white webbing” (Insert Billy Idol music) you see below the mulch. These fungi are called Mycorrhizal fungi or Mycorrhizae and this is a network of food to and from your plants via those little webs. Compost is also home to earth worms whose castings and aeration are extremely beneficial to your soil. Compost is an excellent way to assure your plants health inexpensively, with a huge reward and return in blooms and overall production. Compost chelates chemical damage from soil, adds vital nutrients for plants, fungi and healthy bacteria, increases aerobic properties and increases drainage and moisture retention in soil. Compost also conditions existing soil by encouraging microbial growth there as well. You will also notice your mulch will disappear a little faster and you will have mushrooms after the rain, but that process is the same decomposition that happens in the rain forest and no one is using chemicals to grow things there. So use organic whenever possible.
Now, all that being said, if you are still using chemical fertilizers or weed controls you will not benefit long term as much as you will from compost and organic protocols. Reason being, some of the chemicals and binders, including salt, can kill the microbes and healthy fungi, leaving your plants and lawn dependent on more chemicals. Once you go completely organic with amendments like compost, liquid seaweed, molasses, liquid compost, corn gluten, corn meal, granite sand and other essential minerals, you will create a symbiotic relationship with your soil and plants. Hose end application or granular feeding make organic feed and pest control easy to use and most are safe for your children and animals too. These products are all Lulu approved.
If you do nothing else, compost your trees, lawns and beds. There were a few years when I had two young boys with Autism and a myriad of my own health issues where all I could afford monetarily and emotionally was to compost each spring. It added to the soil depth, provided food and helped carry over watering since my yard was without irrigation. It made an extraordinary difference in the conditioning of the soil, tree growth and flower production.
I recommend you aerate your lawn at last every few years, annually if your soil is compacted, and compost your lawn to the depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch every spring once the day time temps are in the 70’s. Once day temps are in the upper 80’s it is getting hot enough for nitrogen damage. Many commercial compost’s contain animal manure and it has a higher nitrogen content that can burn your lawn and plants. So in Central Texas, I say you should be done with commercial composting by, or shortly after tax day.
These are my composter’s (above) because I’m in a tight space and I don’t want to encourage critters with an open compost system. They are great, but they really don’t make enough for a standard Austin yard, so you will most likely need bags to finish the job unless your space is pretty small. The good news is, homemade compost can be used safely all year without a concern of burning as long as no meat products are used.
This is the compost I used this year, I transfer it to a wheel burrow then distribute it about 1/2 inch all over my whole property and deeper in ruts in the lawn, and veggie beds. Unlike chemical applications that harm the whole planet, organics, used responsibly, are safe for the whole family, including pets, watersheds, and Mother Nature.
Now go get your compost on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”