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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Got Compost: Mulch in Winter- Protect Soil & Plants

Got Compost: Mulch in Winter- Protect Soil & Plants: Nearing the end of December, it’s supposed to be cold…right? And when you’re cold, what do you do to make life more comfy? Put on a cozy ...

Mulch in Winter- Protect Soil & Plants

Nearing the end of December, it’s supposed to be cold…right? And when you’re cold, what do you do to make life more comfy? Put on a cozy coat or sweater, maybe snuggle under a blanket? Whatever your choice of ‘cover up,’ you probably do NOT tough it out and dress as though it were summer. Our trees, flowers and soil deserve the same consideration - and how do we accomplish this? One word – mulch.
Mulch (noun) is “a protective covering of organic material laid over the soil and around plants to prevent erosion, retain moisture, and enrich the soil.” Mulch acts as an overcoat for soil and plants; providing protection, insulation and natural, chemical-free weed control. Materials such as leaves, bark, straw, newspaper, compost and even plastic, may be used as mulch. Only one of these offers great potential for restoring ecological processes to degraded soils, while diverting a valuable natural resource from landfills – and that is compost.
Applying compost and mulch to the landscape increases soil organic matter (S.O.M); providing vital nutrients that create structure and pore spaces - allowing soil to easily soak up excess rain water. This helps reduce runoff from lawns and gardens during storms, which can help reduce flooding, sewer overflows, and erosion. Improving your soil can also save you money by reducing summer irrigation needs because plants grow deeper roots and the soil holds more water. Healthier plants have fewer pest and disease problems and need less fertilizer, so you’ll need fewer chemicals, which is good for your family’s health and our environment. The beneficial soil organisms (fed by compost and mulch) also break down pollutants and help move carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere into long-term storage in the soil.
Three steps to building healthy soil:
1) Amend the soil with compost
  • Dig or till 2-4 inches of compost into the upper 6-8 inches of soil when preparing beds or new lawn areas for planting. Amend the whole bed. Amending just the planting holes can limit root growth.
  • Top dressing - improve existing lawns by aerating, then raking ¼ to ½ inch of compost in, spring or fall.
2) Mulch existing plantings regularly
  • Spread mulch in the spring or fall, to control weeds and conserve water, reduce runoff, and prevent erosion (keep 1 inch away from tree trunks). Renew mulch layers annually.
  • On garden beds and around shallow-rooted annuals, mulch with 1-2 inches of compost, shredded leaves, or grass clippings.
  • Around trees and woody perennials, use 2-4 inches of wood chips (from a tree service) or leaves. Medium-sized bark mulch (fine bark can repel water) is a second choice.
  • Save your fall leaves, or gather them for free – they’re a great mulch for most plants.
  • Use conifer tree needles as a mulch around conifer trees, or around acid-loving plants.
  • Mulch-mow (leave the clippings) on your lawn, to build denser turf, deeper roots, and a drought resistant, healthy lawn.
3) Avoid using chemicals, and choose organic or slow-release fertilizers
  • Pesticides (weed and bug killers) like “weed-and-feed” may hurt beneficial soil life, wildlife, and our families’ health too – use the resources below to find better alternatives.
  • Over-fertilization with quick-release chemical fertilizers is also bad for soil life, and harms our lakes and streams by causing algae blooms. (The algae later dies, and uses up oxygen in the water as it decomposes, suffocating fish).
  • Fertilize moderately (compost can replace most fertilizer needs), and look for the words “natural organic” or “slow-release” on the fertilizer bag. They cost a little more but they feed plants a long time, and they don’t wash away in the first rainstorm.
When purchasing compost for your lawn or garden, be sure it's USCC STA Certified compost - preferably BULK (less expensive and no plastic bags to clog the landfill)
Questions? Expert answers are a call or click away!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Got Compost: T'is the Season to - Recycle!

Got Compost: T'is the Season to - Recycle!: The most wonderful time of year? Maybe. Trashiest time of the year? No question. Boxes, Styrofoam, packaging, wrapping paper, disposabl...

T'is the Season to - Recycle!

The most wonderful time of year? Maybe. Trashiest time of the year? No question.
Boxes, Styrofoam, packaging, wrapping paper, disposable plates, cups and utensils, bottles, cans and food waste - our trash bins overfloweth. But there are ways we can minimize the amount of waste we produce. Mainly, remember the simple phrase "reduce, re-use, recycle" - and they're in that order for a reason.
Reducing what we buy and consume will have the greatest impact on the environment. That includes the number and type of gifts we purchase and how we acquire them, as well as careful menu planning related to the number of actual guests expected.
Look at your trash from a fresh point of view. Getting rid of one bag of trash this season may seem like a small dent in light of America's mountain range of landfills, but if every household filled one fewer bag, imagine the difference we could make.
Meal planning: reduce before eating that big meal - greening up usually takes a little extra time and thought, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are two options for “waste reduction”:
Casual option: Look for compostable tableware and bags – they may cost a little more than the run of the mill plastic stuff, but you’ll be “Completing the Cycle” by re-using recycled materials. And don’t throw the compostable items in the trash. Does your community collect food waste? If so, be sure to place your compostables in the food waste bin. It may look like trash, but these are valuable natural resources that can and should be recycled into compost. Note: paper plates and cups advertised as biodegradable are made to degrade in a commercial composting facility (read the fine print on the package). Added to a small, home compost pile, they may take many months to degrade.
For more info on Compostable Events and Food Waste click here
Formal option: A meal served on china surrounded by silverware, glasses and cloth napkins will take longer to clean up than disposable dishes and plastic ware (taking labor to buy them, and time and fuel to drive to the store). But china and glass are classier, and you can recruit guests to pitch in after dinner – put on your favorite Christmas tunes and the time will fly.
Tips for a Greener Christmas:
Designate a recycling bin for guests to use, and asking them to bring containers for leftovers. Remember to buy local!
And what about trees? Even environmentalists debate whether a live-cut or artificial tree leaves a smaller footprint.
Live trees provide habitat for critters, are a renewable crop, and when grown locally, create local jobs. Making an event out of visiting a tree farm to cut a tree, have a wagon ride and drink hot cocoa can be a pleasant family memory. Note: don’t send your trees to the landfill – recycle ‘em! To properly prepare your Christmas tree for recycling, make sure to remove all ornaments, tinsel, and stands. Trees with stands and flocked trees won’t be accepted and can’t be recycled. Trees over six feet should be cut in half. Visit for more info on Christmas tree recycling and scheduled pick up in your area.
An artificial tree re-used for 10 or 20 years would be cheaper and result in less consumption than buying a live tree every year. However, it can't be recycled and is not biodegradable, so when thrown out, it will be a landfill lump.
Economics can be a challenge of going green. Green goods sometimes cost more, but on the other hand, the prices of trash disposal, pollution and energy continue to rise. Complete the cycle by re-using recycled materials and you’ll be helping your community (and have a Greener Christmas.) Naturally!
For more info: visit  


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Got Compost: Want to Recycle Organic Materials? Location Matter...

Got Compost: Want to Recycle Organic Materials? Location Matter...:   Doing some traveling over the past few months, we've paid attention to trash and recycling collection practices in a variety of loc...

Want to Recycle Organic Materials? Location Matters!


Doing some traveling over the past few months, we've paid attention to trash and recycling collection practices in a variety of locations in California. This post focuses on the Bay Area; Menlo Park, to be exact. Whoa, life must be pretty exciting if a highlight of our visit was spotting bins specifically for compostable materials!
But this is a topic of interest because recycling practices vary so drastically from one area of our state to another; and undoubtedly, across the country. If Menlo Park, San Francisco and San Jose have designated bins for compostable materials, in addition to recyclables and normal everyday trash, why can’t the rest of the country do the same? On the Central Coast, some cities have passed ordinances requiring collection of Green Waste – with a slight rise in collection fees (approximately $3). This is a move in the right direction, but when we think about all the food scraps and coffee grounds heading for the landfill, we’re sorry to see these resources being wasted.
Recycling isn’t just for glass and metal. Potato peelings, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds (don’t forget the filter!) can be recycled into compost. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce); almost all food waste, paper goods – such as paper plates and napkins – and clean wood products, like coffee stirrers, can be transformed into nutrient rich compost.
In our little community on the Central Coast of California, we faithfully truck our recycle bins out to the curb one week; and our green waste bins go out the next. With no compost bin for collection of food scraps, coffee/coffee filters, cardboard, etc., we’re forced to waste these resources or do what we do – compost this stuff at home. All well and good for the environment, but when we need a decent amount of compost for lawn top dressing, laying sod or amending soil for our annual vegetable garden; buying fresh, local, bulk compost is the way to go.
Bins for compostable materials need to be available across the country; with collected organic materials sent to the nearest Regional Compost Facility. These facilities provide the freshest soil products to the public - ready to be put back into the earth building healthy soil to grow crops and improve lawns and gardens. The re-use of recycled materials has a few labels, but we call this ‘Completing the Cycle.’
So, to free up landfill space and improve the environment we should:
1.    collect organic materials
2.    recycle these material for transformation into compost
3.    purchase bulk compost
4.    use compost to build healthy soil
Working together, we can do this. Naturally! Click for more info
Need compost for your next project? Call (805) 925-2771 and ask for Jim or Chuck.
Harvest Blend Compost is available at authorized dealers in San Luis and Santa Barbara Counties.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Got Compost: A Pumpkin is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Got Compost: A Pumpkin is a Terrible Thing to Waste: The facts are, each year in the US, one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced. That adds up to at least 100 million pounds of the bi...

A Pumpkin is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The facts are, each year in the US, one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced. That adds up to at least 100 million pounds of the big orange squash in every state!

All this pumpkin production must mean we're pretty fond of the large gourd. So if we asked what you loved most about pumpkins, what answer do you suppose we’d get? Yeah we know, pumpkin pie is delish and Jack-O-Lanterns are fun. But what’s even better is the fact the entire pumpkin is compostable; making proper disposal a no-brainer.
Pumpkins are a unique holiday decoration in that they are totally natural, but most of the ‘nature’ is tossed in the trash once they’re carved. What a shame, letting a natural resource like this go to waste. Literally. So, how can you make sure that the entire pumpkin is being used and not put into a landfill? Simple – COMPOST IT!
Check  for more information on compost; how compost is made; its uses and benefits. In a nutshell, compost is the decomposition of organic materials to produce nutrient-rich soil enhancer.
Pumpkin seeds themselves are a strong source of nutrients, including zinc, iron and phosphorus. These are all great additions to a compost pile, unless you’re like our kids and you wash and toast those precious seeds for a tasty snack. Now that you know why it’s important to compost, let’s figure out the best way to recycle that pumpkin.
Whether or not you have a compost pile in your yard, there are ways to make it happen. Compost piles rely on a mix of nitrogen-rich greens (which will include pumpkin components) and browns (leaves, paper and other carbon-rich materials). Many communities now offer greenwaste collection along with weekly trash pickup; so if you don’t have your own backyard pile, just toss those gooey, stringy ‘guts’ into your greenwaste bin.
After your Jack-O-Lantern has done its job and begins shriveling up on your porch, you’re free to dispose of it in the most natural way possible. Some folks like to smash the shell before composting or placing in the greenwaste container. Instead of rotting in the landfill, pumpkins will travel to the nearest Regional Compost Facility where they’ll be combined with other locally collected organic materials, and be transformed into premium compost products.
And the cool thing is; compost made with recycled pumpkins may be put back into the earth where it will build healthy soil to grow new pumpkins! This is what we call ‘Completing the Cycle!’ – the most environmentally responsible method of recycling there is.
Did you know that compost has a number of uses and benefits? In addition to being the best soil amendment there is, compost can also be used to improve flower and vegetable gardens and top dress lawns.
So there you go! Don’t waste that pumpkin, compost it! Naturally!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Got Compost: SCHOOL GARDENS - Providing a wealth of learning op...

Got Compost: SCHOOL GARDENS - Providing a wealth of learning op...: Yep, school is definitely back in session. We know this because we’ve been getting calls from schools in Santa Barbara County, requesting...

SCHOOL GARDENS - Providing a wealth of learning opportunities

Yep, school is definitely back in session. We know this because we’ve been getting calls from schools in Santa Barbara County, requesting compost and topsoil to establish, improve and/or maintain school gardens.
 Educational Benefits
A garden has to be designed and laid out, providing a chance to utilize planning and math skills in a group setting. Soil preparation is an opportunity to learn about the importance of soil organic matter, earthworms and general soil ecology. Plant selection and placement require research and more math. As the plants grow, students will have to determine the most efficient way to irrigate and control weeds.
The Value of Sharing
When the garden begins to produce, students are rewarded for their hard work in ways that often leave lasting impressions. In some cases, a portion of the garden crop is donated to a local food bank or other worthwhile agency. Some schools use their harvest in their cafeteria. Others encourage students to share their bounty with family and friends. The common thread that runs through these programs is the joy children derive from sharing their harvest with others.
School Pride
It's known that students involved in any campus project are more likely to have a caring attitude about their school. We know that when students work hard to plan and install a beautiful garden, they develop a sense of pride in their school surroundings that might not otherwise occur.
Field Trips to Engel & Gray Regional Compost Facility
Engel & Gray invites classes to tour our Regional Compost Facility. Please plan for your visit and contact our office at least 30 days in advance. Our field trips are available for grades 3 and up. The approximately one hour tour will include the following:
  • An overview of the compost site
  • A description of the process turning yard trimmings and food scraps into compost and mulch
  • A discussion of the importance of reuse and recycling
  • Promoting the ‘Completing the Cycle’ message
  • Coloring page featuring “Mike Robe – the busiest microbe in the windrow!”
For tour information - please call 805-925-2771
Product Donations
Engel & Gray Regional Compost Facility and Harvest Blend Compost are proud supporters of Central Coast School Garden programs ~ believing there is no better environment than the garden in which to - Plant the seeds of knowledge; experience the joy of learning and harvest a bountiful crop of lifelong learners. Naturally!
Need compost for your school garden? Give us a call @ 805-925-2771 and ask for Jim or Chuck. You can also reach them at or

Friday, October 12, 2012

Got Compost: Add Compost for a Strong Healthy Lawn

Got Compost: Add Compost for a Strong Healthy Lawn: Are you looking for a way to spruce up your lawn after summer’s high temperatures? Look no further, the answer is here in the form of nut...

Add Compost for a Strong Healthy Lawn

Are you looking for a way to spruce up your lawn after summer’s high temperatures? Look no further, the answer is here in the form of nutrient rich compost - the all natural solution to tired landscapes!
If you’ve never used compost on your lawn, you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in the health and beauty of your turf.
The process of applying a layer of compost over the surface of lawns is called ‘top dressing.’ Top dressing is the best way to improve and maintain soil health; increasing soil organic matter which promotes healthy root and soil structure, strengthening lawns and soil.
Before you begin, make sure compost is ‘STA Certified,’ meaning it’s passed strict testing by the US Composting Council and carries the Seal of Testing Assurance label. STA Compost helps increase soil’s moisture holding capacity which may reduce those pesky water bills!
Top Dressing is quick and easy -
For best results, mow the turf short, approximately 1½ inch.
Apply 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of Harvest Blend Compost over existing turf (0.80 to 1.60 cubic yards per 1000 sq. ft.)
Work compost into turf with a rake. You can use the back of a wide 'Landscaper's' rake to spread the mix and 'brush' it into the grasses of the lawn. A good stiff broom will also do the trick. Make sure that the compost does not smother the grass. The grass should be showing through the Compost top dressing.
The compost will replenish organic material in the soil with the result that the soil does a better job of holding moisture and nutrients for use by the grass. Compost is naturally full of air channels, so it does not block the air and moisture from traveling into the soil.
Water thoroughly after application.
If soil is compacted, you may want to aerate your lawn first. Core aerators are available at most equipment rental locations and will allow compost to easily be worked into soil. After aerating the turf the lawn should look like it is covered with cigar butts. Don't worry, they will disintegrate and disappear within a few weeks.
Top dressing in the fall is the key first step to a greener and healthier lawn next spring. Naturally!
For more info visit
Check out Google Maps for a dealer near you.


Friday, September 14, 2012


Got Compost: FREE LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE WORKSHOP!: Join us Wednesday, September 19 for a FREE Landscape Maintenance Workshop! FREE LUNCH │ FREE RAFFLE │ Enter for a chance to win CORE ...


Join us Wednesday, September 19 for a FREE Landscape Maintenance Workshop!
FREE LUNCH │ FREE RAFFLE │ Enter for a chance to win CORE gasless trimmer valued at $273-
When: Wednesday │September 19│11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Where:  Jack’s Repair, 930 W. Main St., Santa Maria, CA.
Experts will present info on Compost Applications and Benefits │ Learn about the latest in Outdoor Power Equipment and Proper Equipment Maintenance.
Enter to win a FREE CORE gasless trimmer! The latest in Trimmer technology!
For more info – call Chuck @ 925-2771 or Email

To learn more about Harvest Blend Compost, check out and Like us on Facebook.
Fall is the perfect time to top dress lawns and we can help with quick & easy instructions!
Click here to find Harvest Blend Compost @ a location near you on the Central Coast. Authorized dealers can help you plan your next DIY project. Naturally!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Got Compost: August │Enjoy Your Harvest

Got Compost: August │Enjoy Your Harvest: Yep, it’s a fun month for Central Coast gardeners. Now is when we get to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor; juicy tomatoes, ...

Got Compost: Got Compost: GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants f...

Got Compost: Got Compost: GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants f...: Got Compost: GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants from heat : Here on the Central Coast we seem to be experiencing a minor heat wave; this me...

August │Enjoy Your Harvest

Yep, it’s a fun month for Central Coast gardeners. Now is when we get to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor; juicy tomatoes, tasty corn, crisp lettuce and more. August is traditionally the month to harvest delicious summer crops, but it's also the time to start planning for a fall garden.  

To get the best yield out of your garden make sure to pick veggies regularly to stimulate growth and ensure they’ll produce through fall. Water is important now; so get out there and check for moisture in soil around zucchini, squash and tomato plants and you will enjoy an almost continuous supply of vegetables during August.

Plant Your Fall and Winter Vegetables: It's too late to plant summer crops, but it is the perfect time to plant seeds or transplants that produce cool-season vegetables such as green onions, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, radishes and beets. Seeds and young plants will thrive in the warm summer soil. If you’ll be planting seeds in flats, put the flats in partial shade to avoid the direct summer heat. Transplant the seedlings into the garden when they are about 4 inches tall.
Of course before planting, you'll want to make sure soil contains the recommended 5% Soil Organic Matter (SOM). This is an easy fix; simply amend soil with Harvest Blend Compost for the healthiest foundation possible. Plants will thrive!

Water Smart: Even drought tolerant and native plants need plenty of water in the heat of summer. Give them a good soak at least twice a week. Potted plants are especially susceptible to high temperatures. If they still wilt after daily watering, think about moving the pots to shade or partial shade locations until the weather cools. Water in the early morning hours to reduce evaporation and water longer so the water has a chance to travel deeper into the soil. Cover your soil with a layer of mulch (compost) to retain moisture. Naturally!

Protect Fruit From Predators: Put bird netting on fruit trees two or three weeks before the fruit begins to ripen. This will keep birds from feasting on the tree fruit. Use rocks or bricks to hold down the netting so birds, rabbits or squirrels can't accidentally get trapped inside.

Plant for Color and Fragrance: August is a good time to plant bushes and trees that add color and fragrance to your garden just about year round. For a dash of color, consider begonia, impatiens, oleander, Chinese hibiscus and firebush. For fragrance, plant gardenias, jasmine and lilac.
Visit for more info.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Got Compost: GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants from heat

Got Compost: GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants from heat: Here on the Central Coast we seem to be experiencing a minor heat wave; this means a little extra TLC is needed for landscapes and garden...

GOT MULCH? Mulching protects plants from heat

Here on the Central Coast we seem to be experiencing a minor heat wave; this means a little extra TLC is needed for landscapes and gardens. Without some human help, a heat wave can wipe out a vegetable garden in just a couple of days.

The high temperatures of a heat wave damage a plant in several ways. First, there's the evaporation of soil moisture, which robs the roots of water. A heat wave will also dehydrate a plant by extracting moisture through the leaves and stem. Finally, the hot rays of the sun can sunburn the leaves, turning them a pale yellow-to-tan color which eventually die and fall off. Protecting your vegetable garden from a heat wave means slowing down the loss of water and minimizing sun damage. Here's how it's done:
Mulch, mulch, mulch │ Mulch is more than a pretty way to decorate a garden. It actually serves an important function in shading tender roots from the sun and slowing the evaporation of ground moisture. Mulch doesn't have to be expensive or fancy to work – bark, newspaper, straw, leaves, grass clippings and compost are affordable and do a great job. Just make sure to keep bark and compost a few inches away from the base of trees and shrubs to discourage insects.
Compost as mulch │ Applying compost to garden beds is a win/win. Not only are plants and soil protected from the elements, compost adds vital nutrients to the soil; increasing porosity and water holding capacity, encouraging a healthy root system. Premium STA Certified Harvest Blend Compost is the perfect choice; Naturally! Click for a map of our trusty dealers
Change how you water │ A vegetable garden can basically be watered in two ways, either at ground level or overhead. During a heat wave, overhead watering with an oscillating or other type of sprinkler head should be avoided. The combination of high temperatures and a hot sun can evaporate up to 90% of that water even before it hits the ground. A better watering solution is to use a soaker hose system, watering through channels, or hand watering the roots.
Other changes that need to be made include -
  • Increasing the watering times to twice a day until the temps dip below 90 degrees.
  • Avoid watering between 10 am and 7 pm, unless you have a soaker system or irrigation channels. Overhead watering when the sun is beating down on your plants can scald the leaves and kill them.
  • Deep water when possible. Deep watering encourages deeper root growth.
Provide shade if possible. To protect more vulnerable vegetable plants, we set up a canopy to shade tender veggies during a heat wave. If you don't own a canopy, sheets draped over 5 foot bamboo stakes can also provide some plant relief.
Plants and soil sometimes need a little extra help from their human caretakers; and periods of extreme heat and/or cold are 2 of those occasions. For more info on compost uses and benefits, visit or Like us on Facebook.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Got Compost: An Ounce of Prevention...

Got Compost: An Ounce of Prevention...:  Microbe rich Harvest Blend Compost  Healthy soil takes a long time to develop naturally. However, it can all be destroyed in a si...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Got Compost: An Ounce of Prevention...

Got Compost: An Ounce of Prevention...:  Microbe rich Harvest Blend Compost  Healthy soil takes a long time to develop naturally. However, it can all be destroyed in a sin...

An Ounce of Prevention...

Microbe rich Harvest Blend Compost
Healthy soil takes a long time to develop naturally.
However, it can all be destroyed in a single planting season or with a just one landscaping endeavor. Basic soil conservation is like preventative medicine: The better you are at keeping soil healthy, the fewer drastic measures you have to take down the road to keep your garden or lawn thriving. You know the old saying, ‘An ounce of prevention...’

Soil quality should be a concern to everyone on the planet. Whether you're a suburbanite looking for a perfect lawn or a fifth-generation farmer looking for the perfect harvest; the nature and quality of your soil are among the most important factors in your success. All soils contain a mixture of organic and inorganic matter, but their proportions and characteristics vary from place to place.


Topsoil is the upper layer of soil in a given area. It typically contains sand, silt and clay in varying proportions, which can account for as little as 40 percent or as much as 80 percent of the soil's bulk. Sandy soils are loose and drain well, but they retain water poorly. Silt soils compact and become dense, while clay soils can become hard and drain poorly. All of these characteristics can be modified if there is enough organic matter in the topsoil. Some of this organic matter is fully decomposed, and some is actively decomposing.

Organic Matter Soil

Above the topsoil, at ground level, is a thin layer composed almost entirely of organic matter. It's made up of varying materials, such as thatch in grasslands and leaf mold in forests. This layer is constantly decomposing as bacteria, fungi, worms and insects digest it and transform it into rich humus. Through the normal passage of time and the activity of soil-based organisms, this organic material slowly becomes incorporated into the topsoil beneath it. We can speed up this process by adding organic matter to this layer as mulch or by adding finished humus to the soil in the form of mature compost.

Organic Matter and Drainage

Soils with increased organic matter are proven to maintain consistently superior drainage. The addition of compost acts as a sponge, creating air pockets where water can seep in and be retained. This is beneficial to all types of soil. Compost improves a sandy soil's ability to retain moisture, reducing the need for irrigation. In hard-packed silt or clay, adding compost will soften and lighten the soil. This allows water to seep in and be absorbed, or "infiltrated," rather than pooling on the surface to create runoff and wastewater. This reduces both erosion and water use, two important environmental benefits.

If you have areas of soil that puddle and won’t drain, don’t give up. Here’s a relatively simple method to drain water from soggy soil – after which you can proceed with soil amendment.
Items you will need:
1.     Shovel
2.     Perforated drainpipe
3.     Compost
4.     Fertilizer
5.     Tiller

Step 1:

Drain the soil if it collects standing water, which will make gardening more productive and help prevent erosion. Locate the lowest spot in the area that needs draining, and then find a low spot below that area, wherever the water seems to drain to. Dig a trench and install a perforated drainpipe running downslope from one spot to the other. Surround the pipe with gravel to prevent dirt from clogging the perforations.

Step 2:

Stay off wet soil. Do not walk or drive on wet soil or do anything that packs it down. Compacted soil prevents air and water from flowing through, which eliminates room for roots to grow.

Step 3:

Mix compost into sandy soil to improve nitrogen levels and bring a greater yield of crops and plants.

Step 4:

Fertilize your soil wisely. Use organic fertilizers designed to meet the needs of the soil in your particular region. Follow the instructions on the container carefully and do not apply more fertilizer than is suggested.

Step 5:

Till the soil at the proper time. Tilling the soil when it is wet causes it to clump, which destroys the soil's composition. Soil that crumbles in your hand is ready to till.
Soil Biology
The physical properties of organic matter soil, and their importance as a portion of the topsoil, are only part of the larger picture. Soil Organic Matter (SOM) is also crucial to soil's ecosystem. Billions of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects, worms and other organisms that make up the Soil Foodweb, feed on fresh organic material, leaving nutrient rich compost in its place. The more varied and plentiful these organisms are, the healthier the soil. A thriving, biologically diverse soil provides more nutrients to plants, doing away with harmful pathogens; helping to build healthy soil. Naturally!
For more info visit
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Got Compost: Got Compost: A Cubic Yard of Compost = ?

Got Compost: Got Compost: A Cubic Yard of Compost = ?: Got Compost: A Cubic Yard of Compost = ? : You visit your local nursery and ask how much compost it’ll take to amend soil or top dress your ...

Affordable Summer Gardening

We’re often asked questions about gardening and compost use. Thought it might help to share some Q&A’s with you. And hey, if you have any questions you’d like answered, or just want to share your gardening stories, pleas ‘Like’ us on Facebook and post away. We’d love to hear from you!

Q: My kids want to plant a vegetable garden this summer. I’d like to get started on this project but gardens use a lot of water. Is there anything I can do to conserve water, hopefully not see an increase on my water bill and still enjoy fresh, healthy veggies from our own garden?

A: You bet! There are many ways to use water efficiently in your garden and significantly reduce your use. First, you'll want to consider what vegetables you want to grow. Peas and corn need more water, while vine plants and tomatoes require less.
Make sure to group water dependent plants together. This way, the majority of your water is directed to the areas that need it most, while keeping the rest dry. Your next step is to come up with strategies to use water more efficiently.
Drip lines and raised bed gardening are two excellent ways to conserve. Drip lines deliver water close to the base of the plant, which allows for deeper penetration and encourages the development of a strong and more extensive root system. They are easy to install and can reduce your gardening water needs up to 50 percent. Growing plants in raised beds will decrease the amount of weeds in the garden, which will draw water away from your vegetables.
Many cities offer rebates to residents and businesses taking part in water-wise landscape methods. Check out the Smart Landscape Rebate Program available in Santa Barbara County. Program requirements may vary slightly depending on your service area, so please see the specific details related to your area
Soil amended with compost is a great way to manage soil moisture! Growing plants in garden beds containing soil that’s been enriched with compost is another way to increase efficiency. Soil that contains compost is able to hold significantly more water than the typical California soil. Click to locate Harvest Blend Compost near you.
Harvest Blend Compost builds healthy soil; adds soil organic matter, improves soil structure and increases water holding capacity. Naturally!
For more info on compost visit

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Got Compost: A Cubic Yard of Compost = ?

Got Compost: A Cubic Yard of Compost = ?: You visit your local nursery and ask how much compost it’ll take to amend soil or top dress your lawn. The clerk asks for measurements of...

A Cubic Yard of Compost = ?

You visit your local nursery and ask how much compost it’ll take to amend soil or top dress your lawn. The clerk asks for measurements of your lawn, does a few calculations and voila! You hear you’ll need approximately 1 cubic yard of the stuff. Oh sure, one cubic yard. Sounds good, but now you’re asking yourself if you have room to store 1 cubic yard of compost. How can you know just how much space one cubic yard of compost will use? We’ll give you an easy way to envision the answer to this question shortly, but first -
It could be this ‘unknown’ element of compost buying that intimidates many homeowners; driving them to purchase the higher priced bagged product that had been gathering dust on a shelf for weeks. Don’t let yourself be lured by the apparent ‘easy choice’ when bulk compost is clearly the better option.
Bulk compost is a fresh, nutrient rich product; produced locally with quality organic materials. Because there aren’t any plastic bags to rip open, it is the most environmentally desirable product for lawn and garden. Plus, it costs less! Of course ‘out-of-the-bag’ compost can’t be easily tossed in the trunk of your car like the bagged stuff, but your local nursery or landscape center will usually be happy to help out by delivering the product to home or garden. How great is that!
Oh, yeah, we promised you an easy way to estimate the amount of room a cubic yard of compost will use. Look at your dishwasher. One cubic yard = 27 cubic feet, the same size as the average dishwasher.
If you live on the Central Coast, Harvest Blend Compost is the natural choice for lawn and garden improvements. Check out our dealer map for a location near you.
For more info on the uses and benefits of compost, visit
To speak with a Harvest Blend Compost Field Rep, call (805) 925-2771 and ask for Jim or Chuck
Thanks for choosing Harvest Blend Compost. Naturally!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Got Compost: FREE Lawn & Garden Workshop!

Got Compost: FREE Lawn & Garden Workshop!:  Compost Builds Healthy Soil. Dig in! For the past 13 years International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) has served the important role...

FREE Lawn & Garden Workshop!

Compost Builds Healthy Soil. Dig in!
For the past 13 years International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) has served the important role of bringing the Compost! message to the attention of the public, businesses and other groups. We at Harvest Blend Compost want you to know how easy it is to buy and use bulk compost for your lawn and garden.

To make it easy for our Community to discover all the terrific things compost does for your landscape we hope you’ll join us at our FREE LAWN & GARDEN WORKSHOP:

·  Sat., May 12 @ Mussell Senior Center
·  510 E. Park Ave.
·  Santa Maria, CA 93454
·  FREE COMPOST! B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bucket)
Engel & Gray, Inc., Harvest Blend Compost and the City of Santa Maria Utilities/Rec & Parks Depts. are presenting this event to promote landscape improvement through compost use and water conservation techniques. Free compost and vegetable transplants will be available, so don’t forget your bucket or bin! For more information please visit
Or call Melissa @ Engel & Gray, Inc. - (805) 925-2771

Incorporating compost into your landscape is easy and economical. Whether you need a little compost to spruce up flower beds or a few yards to top dress lawns; help is only a phone call away. For the homeowner interested in renewing lawn and garden; there’s no better soil amendment than compost. It’s 100% natural, providing vital nutrients and organic matter that soil needs to be considered healthy. Compost has a variety of uses – some of the most beneficial are:
·        Lawn Top Dressing: applying a layer of compost to the surface of the lawn will improve soil and grass for a lush, green turf.
·        Turf Establishment: amending soil with compost provides nutrients and improves water holding capacity; saving money on water!
·        Flower & Vegetable Gardens: adding compost before planting creates the perfect foundation for new plants. Or top dress existing beds to give soil a boost.
·        Tree & Shrub backfill mix: compost opens compacted soil; adding oxygen for an improved root system.

Call 805.925.2771 to speak with a Harvest Blend Compost field rep. Or, email
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