Herbs and Companion Effects
Here is a helpful list of herbs and some details of where to plant them in your garden!
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Here is a helpful list of herbs and some details of where to plant them in your garden!
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Composting is a degradation process brought about by bacteria and fungus organisms. Large amounts of organic kitchen, garden, lawn, and/or farm refuse can be reduced in a relatively short time to a pile of black, crumbly humus which makes an ideal soil conditioner.
Compost added regularly to soil will inevitably benefit the soil. The soil’s structure will improve, since humus contains substances which cause aggregation (sticking together) of soil particles. In a clay soil this means that the microscopic individual particles will be clumped together and more air spaces will be opened up between clumps. Without these air spaces the clay particles stick tightly to each other, forming a nearly impenetrable barrier to water and gases. This is why clay is so sticky when wet and hard when dry.
In sandy soils, the large sand particles are clumped with humus too, the humus adding its nutrient and moisture-holding capacity. Normally, water and nitrogen fertilizers leach quickly from sandy soil, making it necessary to add them frequently. A less widely recognized benefit from compost is that it contains humic and other organic acids which help to degrade compounds naturally present in the soil into the simpler form that plants use.
These elements, or ions, can then be held by the humus particles, which contain many ion exchange sites on their surfaces. The ions are released into soil water, and plant roots are able to take them up. Because there are so many ion exchange sites on humus particles, humus increases the buffering capacity of the soil. This condition helps to prevent rapid leaching of lime and nutrients as well as reducing the effects of over-liming and over-fertilizing.
For example, when a soil’s pH is increased too much by adding too many wood ashes, the most economical way to correct the conditions is to add compost, which will absorb (take up on the surface) the extra ions that produce the high pH. (compost itself is somewhat acid because of the acidic products made by microorganisms.) In other words, compost buffers the effects of other soil additives.
Compost and other organic matter turns the soil dark brown or blackish and increases heat-absorbing capabilities to a small extent. Compost reduces soil erosion because it allows water to percolate into lower soil layers, rather than puddle on top and then run off. This quality also reduces crusting of soil. Compost provides food for earthworms, soil insects, and microorganisms, many of which will, over the years, help balance the populations of less desirable soil fauna.
Mycorrhizal fungi, which have been proven to benefit plants through their association with plant roots, are also prolific in high humus soil.
Finally, the products from the breakdown of plant and animal refuse contain many fertilizing elements in and of themselves, including trace elements not available from commonly used synthetic fertilizers.
To make compost regularly, it is helpful to have compost bins in some form. You can construct two bins out of planks or concrete blocks. Make the bins about 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and as long as desired, and open at one end for easy access. Leave spaces between blocks or planks for aeration.
Accumulate plant refuse in one bin while the composting process is taking place in the other. A third bin may be desirable for near-finished or finished compost storage. A simple, portable compost bin can be made with three or four used freight pallets, which are simply stood on their ends in a square or open square and lashed or otherwise held together. This type of bin can be disassembled for easy turning and emptying and then reassembled around the new pile. A chicken wire cage supported by three or four wooden stakes will also work satisfactorily, but is less sturdy.
There are also ready-made and kit composters available, including slat-sided cylinders into which refuse is added from above and compost removed at ground level.
Rotating barrels for easy turning are also available; gardeners who have limited strength may find either of these types easier to deal with than the standard compost bin.
Whichever type of compost maker you use, it’s a good idea to make use of the nutrients which leach out from under the pile. This is easily done by locating the composter in the garden (which also reduces hauling time) or under a large fruit tree. Or, if the compost pile is on a slope, trenching can direct the run-off.
Start your compost pile with a 3-inch layer of coarse plant material such as small twigs or chopped corn stalks. This will aid in aeration and drainage. On top of this, put a layer of plant and kitchen refuse – leaves, straw, weeds, waste from garden plants, husks, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, canning-wastes, etc. It is a good idea not to use meat waste because they will attract digging animals. Next, add a layer of nitrogen-rich material. This can be fresh manure if available, fresh grass clippings (not too thick a layer, as they will mat), fresh hay, or succulent green weeds.
Nitrogenous materials are necessary for the microorganisms to make proteins. Add more in the form of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer (1/2 cup 10-10-10 per 6” layer), blood meal (also ½ cup per 6” layer) or cotton seed-meal (1 cup per 6” layer). If a more alkaline compost is desired, add 1 pint of ground limestone per square yard of surface area. Liming will also help reduce odors.
To inoculate the compost pile, about one inch of soil should be added for each 6” layer of plant wastes to supply microorganisms for the composting process, unless enough soil is included on roots of weeds and expired vegetable plants, or in manure. If the waste materials are free of soil for the most part, a sprinkling of soil, a compost starter, or a layer of old compost or good gardening soil added to each layer will introduce necessary microorganism. Repeat the layers of plant material and nitrogenous material as many times as needed to use all the plant refuse.
Water the pile as often as necessary to keep the contents moist, but not soaking wet. Within a few days, the pile should heat up significantly, to about 160 degrees F. This temperature will kill many weed seeds and harmful organisms, and is a necessary stage in composting. If the pile fails to heat, it may lack nitrogen or moisture.
The pile will also decrease in size after a few weeks if it is composting properly. If you smell ammonia it may mean that the materials in the pile are too tightly packed or that the pile is too wet; i.e. there is not enough air. Turn the heap, adding some coarser material, and start again.
The pile should be forked over after about a month (two weeks if the material is shredded), putting the outside materials on the inside and vice versa to make sure everything gets broken down.
Turn again 5 – 6 weeks later. The plant materials should decompose into good compost in about 4 or 5 months in warm weather, but may take longer under cool or dry conditions.
Composting may be completed in 1 or 2 months if the materials are shredded, kept moist, and turned several times to provide good aeration. When compost is finished, it will be black and crumbly, like good soil, with a pleasant, earthy smell. Only a few leftover corncobs or stalks will remain undecayed, these can be sifted out and added to the next batch. For use in potting mixtures, a relatively fine sieve (1/4” hardware cloth) will take out the larger chunks. Otherwise, the compost can be spread in the garden as it is and dug or tilled under, ready to offer your soil and plants its many virtues.
If you need only a small amount of compost, you can use a plastic trash bag to compost relatively fine material such as leaves, lawn clippings or chopped garden refuse. Make layers as in a compost pile, or mix all materials together. Add 2 quarts of water to dry material (one quart if it is quite moist or succulent). Tie the bag and turn it over every few weeks to aerate the material and distribute the moisture.
Sheet composting is another method of making compost. A layer of organic materials about 3-4 inches is spread over the soil, then covered with a 2-inch layer of soil. The organic material is allowed to decay at least three months prior to cultivating. Sheet composting on an unused portion of your garden in the fall can provide an enriched area for spring planting.
To Grow Your Own Lawn from Seed:
The most important consideration in establishing a new lawn are: drainage, quality of the soil, preparation of the seedbed, your choice of seed, fertility and moisture.
If you choose to plant your new lawn in the Spring, begin just as soon as the soil is dry enough to work, preferable mid-April to mid-May. This will give your new grass time to get established before hot weather sets in.
Fall is often a better time to start your lawn, from mid-August to the end of September. Your seedbed is less likely to dry out at this time of year and the grass should be well established before Winter.
The area to be seeded should be level evenly as possible with a gentle slope away from buildings. You should avoid steep slopes or terraces if possible where water may erode or wash away topsoil. The entire surface should have a layer of good topsoil about 12-15 cm deep. You may have to mix peat moss or composted manure into your topsoil for best results.
Rake the surface thoroughly to prepare the seedbed and avoid any depressions that may hold surface water. Apply a good quality fertilizer, preferable with an analysis on a 1-201 or 1-1-1 ratio. The middle number representing the proportion of phosphorous. We sell a fertilizer called a turf-starter that is formulated just for starting new lawns. This will assist in developing a healthy root system. Rake the surface again forming a firm seedbed before seeding. If you find that you are unable to get a firm seedbed just by raking, then use a roller with little or no water in it to slightly compact the soil.
Choosing and Planting the Seed:
It pays to select good quality seed. It is also wise to choose a mixture of at least two or three varieties in accordance with your requirements. This will depend on sun and shade conditions. Don’t skimp when seeding. It is best to use a mechanical spreader, although small areas may be hand seeded. Get the seed on as evenly as possible, applying half the seed in one direction. Then travel back and forth crossing your first pattern at 90 degrees with the balance of the seed.
With a fan rake lightly scratch the seed into the top 1/8 to1/4 inch of the topsoil. Then lightly roll to ensure that the seed is in firm contact with the soil. Water slowly and evenly until 2.5 cm of topsoil is thoroughly moist. Keep the soil moist until the grass seedlings are well established. Avoid creating puddles.
Tending the New Lawn:
When the new grass has grown to a height of 6 – 8 cm it may be cut, but not shorter than 4 – 5 cm. Do not let the grass grow so long that it will not stand upright. Ensure that your mower blade is sharp to avoid unnecessary bruising of the grass plants. While there must be reasonable growth of leaves to develop a good healthy root system, cut regularly so cuttings will only be about 12 to 15 mm long. This avoids having to remove cuttings.
Feeding a New Lawn:
If you start your lawn in the spring it will require feeding again in late June and again n the Fall. For this first feeding use half the rate recommended on the fertilizer package. Use the full recommended rate for the Fall feeding.
What About Weeds:
If you have been careful to put down good topsoil, weeds during early growth should not be a big problem. Some careful hand weeding is best for the few weeds that may appear during the first 4 – 6 weeks. After a new lawn, has been cut at least twice you may apply a chemical weed control if necessary, but be sure to follow the directions on the package very carefully.
Over seeding Can Improve Your Lawn:
Your lawn will continue to improve with age if you follow these simple rules:
Should you have any problems or questions concerning your lawn or other aspects of gardening, please do not hesitate to call us! We look forward to serving you in the future.
ESTABLISHING THE BASIC SHAPE:
At the garden center, the fruit trees offered for sale may be three years or older and the basic shape already begun or established, having been pruned at the Nursery. You need now only to maintain and improve the open-centred vase shape that is desirable.
A whip or maiden, when planted, should be cut back to 60 cm for peaches and apricots; 100 cm for apple, pear, plum and cherry. Prune any side branches back to two buds.
Prune in mid-winter when the tree is dormant. Select three or four well-spaced branches that radiate evenly from the trunk.
By the third winter the basic scaffold of three or four main branches is established, retain the best-placed shoots near the tip of each branch and one or two other side shoots.
Always cut to an outward-facing bud to maintain an open centre. The more horizontal the branching, the more and the earlier fruiting will be.
PRUNING AND THINNING THE FRUIT-BEARING TREE:
Heading back and thinning should always be done mid-winter when the tree is dormant. Summer running to remove leafy foliage and expose the ripening fruit to more sun should be done about a month before the picking date.
The fruit is borne on long-lived ‘spurs’ on the secondary branches. Allow only one apple per spur for larger fruit. Thin out the fruit on the branch mid-way to maturity date leaving 20 cm (8 inches) between fruit. Do not damage the spur when picking, it will bear fruit again next year. Turn the apple bottom up and lift. Do not pull down or the spur may pull away.
Very similar to apples but need even less pruning.
No thinning of fruit required, they can be allowed to bear heavily. A protective netting will be needed to prevent birds from taking the fruit.
European Plums have long spurs and do not usually need thinning. Leave 10 cm between fruit.
Japanese Plums have very short spurs and over bear. Thin fruit at thumbnail size; leave 10 to 15 cm between fruit.
Heavy pruning is needed to keep the Apricot producing. The best shape is low and wide-spreading with no long branches. Thin and head back every year in winter. Fruit can be produced on the growth made last season, but the bulk will be on four-year-old spurs. Encourage new spurs by pinching back laterals when they are about 10 cm long.
The open-centre vase shape is important in allowing sunshine to the lower inside of the tree. Always cut to outward-facing lateral branches.
Note that fruit is formed only on the branch segments that grew last summer. New wood grows on beyond the fruit and will produce next year’s crop. Once harvested, the fruiting section will never fruit again so cut back two-year-old stems to provoke new growth.
Should you have any problems or questions concerning your plant material, please call us!
Looking to serve you in the future!
One of the most common problems with shade in the garden, IS THE LACK OF IT!!
In a new home, in a new sub-division, where can you grow lush, leafy ferns, Astilbes, Hosta, Impatiens and Tuberous Begonias? There are so many plants that actually LIKE SHADE! If you can create a garden in the shaded north side of your home, then you can enjoy a broad range of plants that thrive in the shade.
Note about Deep Shade: In the plant lists, those for deep shade are starred *
Cork Screw Hazel
Hydrangeas (Blue-pink types)
Azaleas, Exbury Type
All Viburnums (including Snowball and fragrant Snowball)
*Snowberry & Coralberry
Needled and Broadleaf
Dwarf False Cypress
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia)
Oregon Grape Holly
Dwarf Serbian Spruce
Rhododendron and Azalea
Yew, all varieties
Cedars, particularly Dwarf Varieties
*Euonymus Varieties, many Holly
Japanese Garden Juniper
Savin and the Savina
Calgary Carpet etc.
Mountbatten, Skyrocket and Spartan
For light shade-Painted Daisy
Coral – Bells
*Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
Hall’s Honey Suckle
Fibrous & Tuberous
Clarkia / Godetia
*Torenia / Wishbone Flower
Some Clematis Varieties
Amur Cork Tree
Ivory Silk Lilac
Weeping False Cypress
Other False Cypress
We sell our nursery stock in many different types of containers. Plastic or fibre pots are the most popular on our yard. We also have balled in burlap and packaged stock. When you are planting the type of container is as important as the type of soil in which you plant.
The type of soil and how you plant in it are the key factors in the transplanting of nursery stock. With most soils (loam, sandy, clay) peatmoss and manure or compost are good additives. With the amount of heavy clay soils in our area these soil additives are extremely important in the success of your landscape.
When planting make sure all broken roots are pruned. Work in soil around roots to eliminate air pockets. Plants may require staking.
When planting, dig the hole and then set the plant in. Always untie the burlap that is around the main trunk and pull it back. Also, slit the burlap in several places to quicken the rooting process.
Do not remove the pot. These pots rot when completely covered with soil. Make sure you break or cut off the hard lip of the pot. Also, slit the pot with a sharp knife in several places.
Remove the pot. If the roots of container grown plants have occupied all of the soil in the container and in any way appear ‘root-bound’, use your hands or a knife to loosen the roots on the side and bottom.