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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Got Compost: Compost Your Pumpkin!

Got Compost: Compost Your Pumpkin!: Pumpkins are at the very heart of our fall celebrations. Halloween and Thanksgiving feature the plump squash, either as a decoration or deli...

Compost Your Pumpkin!

Pumpkins are at the very heart of our fall celebrations. Halloween and Thanksgiving feature the plump squash, either as a decoration or delicious food, but there’s one problem with this big old veggie. What to do with it when the holidays are over?
Did you know that the Department of US Census Bureau reports that in the USA alone more than one billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in 2010? The $101 million dollar pumpkin industry is potentially disastrous for local landfills. Pumpkins are pretty bulky, so they not only take up a lot of space in the landfill, it also takes a good deal of fuel to get 'em there. If we care about our environment we need to find an alternative to sending used pumpkins to the landfill.

Compost vs Landfill
Pumpkins, which of course are 100% natural, will break down quickly as compost in your yard, providing you with valuable nutrients for your lawn or garden. Pumpkins are an easy addition to your compost pile. All you need to do is to remove the wax and candles and put the pumpkin into your backyard composter. Some composters say it’s better to smash or cut the pumpkin up first before you put it in the composter. The smaller the vegetable matter the quicker it will compost.

New Life for Jack-O-Lantern
Your Halloween pumpkins can enjoy renewed life as compost, bringing a grin to your face when discovering all the benefits compost delivers to your landscape. The organic matter has been transformed into nutrient rich food for your soil - making it the perfect soil amendment and lawn top dressing. Naturally!

Compost Facilities Can HelpThe City of Santa Maria recently implemented a green waste recycling program, aimed at diverting organic materials from the landfill. This is the ideal spot for our discarded pumpkins. Just remember to place your pumpkin in the brown curbside'll be doing a good thing for your community. Click here for a curbside pick-up schedule
If your city doesn’t offer this service contact your local compost facility to find out about alternatives. Let’s all pitch in to keep compostable organics out of our landfills! Everything we can do to reduce our contribution of compostable materials to local landfills is a reduction in greenhouse gas production.
For more info, check out We're here to help you with all your compost needs. Naturally!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Got Compost: Healthy Soil is a Balancing Act

Got Compost: Healthy Soil is a Balancing Act: The health and beauty of a plant or the productivity of a crop is directly related to the health and vitality of the soil in which it grows....

Healthy Soil is a Balancing Act

The health and beauty of a plant or the productivity of a crop is directly related to the health and vitality of the soil in which it grows.  When the pH is wrong, nothing works right - not fertilizers, not weed killers, and especially not the biological components within the soil. When the Soil Organic Matter (SOM) content is low, the soil is unproductive, and crops, trees or turf lack the energy sources to help them grow.
When soluble salts and chlorides are too high, the microbes that live in the soil and help aerate and digest dead plant material (turning them into organic material) are killed, thereby increasing soil compaction. When the soil is compacted, not enough air, water or nutrients can enter the root zone, so the plants suffer greatly.
Is your lawn telling you something?
Our lawns are a great barometer of soil health. They can’t lie, so if something’s wrong with the soil beneath your grass, it shows up in some not so subtle ways.
Symptoms of Sick Soil:
·        Bare Patches – if grass won’t/can’t grow, soil is definitely not well
·        Shallow Root System – anything less than 6 inches
·        Compacted Soil – soil probe penetration less than 6 inches
·        Puddling – water quickly runs off or pools in low areas rather than soaking into the soil
·        Disease Prone – annual outbreaks of diseases; either the same disease during the same time period each year or different diseases through the season.
·        Insect Infestations – like diseases, insect problems are many times related to thatch, but can also be a sign of low levels of soil nutrients.
·        Thatch – dead grass stems, blades and roots that are not breaking down into organic matter, but accumulating on top of the soil and creating conditions that favor disease and insect problems, as well as restricting moisture from getting into the soil.
·        Weeds – especially if there are a wide variety of weed types.

What causes ‘Sick Soil’?
When nutrients are out of balance with each other or just not available for the plant’s use, plants become unhealthy and are more susceptible to disease and insect attacks.
When secondary & micro nutrients are in short supply, plants become weak and are damaged more easily by wear & tear, drought conditions and insect/disease problems.  
Soil in very poor condition may need to undergo a comprehensive soil test to find out what unhealthy conditions exist and what can be done to fix the problem.
If corrections are not made, lawns may develop thatch, weed, insect and disease problems. This means added chemical usage, mechanical intervention and unnecessary costs.
How to remedy sick soil?
Adding Organic Matter in the form of compost will raise, or help maintain, SOM to the 5% level. Top dressing lawns or amending soil with Harvest Blend Compost will correct many symptoms of unhealthy soil by:
1.      Improving soil structure, porosity and density to ensure a healthier root environment.
2.      Infiltrating heavy soils thereby reducing erosion.
3.      Increasing water holding capacity of soil so that water is used more efficiently.
4.      Stabilizing pH and improving the soil's ability to hold nutrients.
5.      Supplying valuable microbes, micro and macronutrients and organic matter to the soil environment.
6.      Helping to suppress soil-borne plant pathogens.
7.      Binding and degrading specific pollutants.

When soil is healthy, all plant life is healthier and more productive; better able to survive weather and environmental stresses, and insect/disease attacks.
The US Composting Council is promoting healthy soil through their “Strive for 5%” campaign, educating the public on the importance of building Soil Organic Matter to 5%. Click here for details