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Friday, November 21, 2014

Got Compost: Drought Conditions Call for Healthy Soil!

Got Compost: Drought Conditions Call for Healthy Soil!: With persisting drought conditions and water shortages here in California, drought-tolerant   landscaping is definitely the way to go. ...

Drought Conditions Call for Healthy Soil!

With persisting drought conditions and water shortages here in California, drought-tolerant  
landscaping is definitely the way to go. While planting drought-resistant plants and water conservation are important factors, truly drought-tolerant landscapes begin with the soil.
For plants, grass and trees to be able to thrive in drought conditions, they require nutrient-rich soil that is properly aerated and able to disperse water efficiently. To prepare soil for a water-wise landscape, you should first till and loosen soil roughly a foot deep. Highly compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to spread. It also makes it harder for water to penetrate the soil adequately before it evaporates. Important to keep in mind is the fact that healthy soil is as important to landscapes comprised of rocks and cacti as it is to those with lawns, shrubs and flower beds.
Once the ground has been loosened the addition of compost, rich in organic matter, will provide the nutrients your plants need to grow healthy and lush even in tough conditions. Soil straight from your backyard just won’t do the job, neither will just any compost off the shelf of your local garden supply center. All compost is not created equal. As a result of the variety of organic materials that go into the compost feedstock, there can be a wide variability in the characteristics and quality of compost products. As a result, you may ask, “How do I buy compost that meets my landscaping needs?”

One answer is to purchase only compost that complies with the terms and conditions of the USCC’s Seal of Testing Assurance [STA] Program. This will provide you with the information that you need in order to make an informed buying decision

Ideally, you should prepare your soil and complete your planting before the hottest and driest parts of the year. If your plants have time to develop a healthy and deep root base before the hottest and driest parts of the summer, they will be stronger and better able to withstand drought conditions.
After you have prepared your soil and completed your planting, you should then cover the ground with a thick carpet of mulch. Not only will mulch reduce the number of weeds that will use up water and nutrients, it will prevent the water from evaporating at ground level before it has time to penetrate the soil.

Because almost all drought tolerant plants have a vast, far-reaching taproot that seeks water out deep below the soil’s surface, well-amended soil is a must when planting a drought-tolerant garden. Compost must be added to native soil if drought-tolerant plants are to survive. Even if you are planting a sloped area, adding 1 or 2 inches of compost to native soil is imperative; water must soak deep into the soil where, in times of drought, plants’ taproot systems can have access. Adding Harvest Blend Compost to your native soil will greatly improve the texture, aeration and draining capacity, so this should be your first priority when planting a water-wise garden. Naturally!
For more info email or call (805)925-2771


Friday, August 22, 2014

Got Compost: OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healt...

Got Compost: OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healt...: If your soil and turf are healthy, you might think that the soil would be able to generate its own organic content. This is not necessaril...

OM = Organic Material, Important in Building Healthy Soil

If your soil and turf are healthy, you might think that the soil would be able to generate its own organic content. This is not necessarily true. The ideal soil is open and crumbly, giving the grass roots plenty of room to grow full and deep. When digging, you should find a large population of earthworms and microbes; these are the good guys in your soil. When earthworms, microbes and roots die off they decompose, raising the soils’ organic levels for new soil life. This cycle is referred to as the Soil Food Web, where roots, earthworms, and microbes are constantly recycling themselves.

Truly healthy soil has between 3% and 5% organic material. That level can be maintained ONLY IF organic matter is added to the soil at the surface year in and year out. Plants, earthworms, and microbes need that extra matter to support healthy soil. In the woods and grasslands, that added organic matter came from dead leaves or dead grasses decomposing each year. We need to repeat that process in our lawns to be able to maintain a healthy organic content in our soil.
Very few residential landscapes have soil this rich with organic material. The truth is soil beneath our lawns typically contains less than 1% organic material. This is because over a ten or twenty year period not only was no new organic material introduced, but the main source of these materials such as leaves and grass clippings have been collected and transported to local landfills. What a waste!
Healthy soil needs a steady supply of new organic material. It’s constantly decomposing, adding nutrients for the grass and plants, and must be replaced. Decomposed grass clippings and other organic material don’t have much food value left, but they’re valuable in aerating the soil, storing water and in feeding key microorganisms needed for other tasks. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn might provide some organic material; it is not enough to consistently provide 3 or 5 %. This is why we need to add more.
How can we add extra organic matter, you ask?
The solution is simple, and one you may not be familiar with; top dressing. Top dressing a lawn is the process of adding a fine layer of quality compost to your lawn. The quick & easy method involves simply working the compost into the grass with the back of a landscaper’s rake or a stiff broom (making sure not to smother grass with compost) and watering thoroughly. In only a few days, you’ll notice your lawn taking on a strong, healthy appearance; greening up where before there were patches of brown grass.
The “Professional” method is the same process with one exception; aerate soil before adding compost. If you have an irrigation system you’ll need to make it’s marked with flags before aeration (don’t want to poke holes in pipes now, do we?) Then proceed as you would for the quick & easy method, making sure to water well when finished. When you top dress your lawn with compost, this organic material eventually begins to decompose. More important, the earthworms seek it out and pull it down into the soil and eat it. 
If you don’t regularly top dress your lawn, it’s high time to begin. It might sound like extra work, but it’ll pay off big time in contributing to the development of healthy soil; stimulating soil life to provide nutrients and opening soil structure so it holds air and moisture.
Harvest Blend Compost contains premium organic matter necessary to raise soils’ organic levels to the recommended 5%. Locally produced from quality, recycled organic materials, Harvest Blend Compost has passed the strictest testing methods to carry the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) label. This means our products are free of weed seeds and pathogens, guaranteeing product safety for your lawn and garden.
Healthy soil translates into healthier grass. Growing in soil with 5% organic content, lawns can expand their considerable root systems, reaching deep into the soil to tap more dependable supplies of water and nutrients. They are more self-reliant, less dependent on us for nutrition and moisture. They do not suffer stress. The result is fewer problems with weeds, diseases and pests. Naturally!
For all the details on Top dressing and Harvest Blend Compost and all its benefits, go to or call us at 805-925-2771.




Friday, May 30, 2014

Got Compost: Keep Water Clean! Replace Lawn Pesticides with Com...

Got Compost: Keep Water Clean! Replace Lawn Pesticides with Com...: Did you know that… Santa Maria’s storm drains do not go to the City's wastewater treatment plant? When surface water flows through...

Keep Water Clean! Replace Lawn Pesticides with Compost

Did you know that…
Santa Maria’s storm drains do not go to the City's wastewater treatment plant? When surface water flows through streets from storms, any pollutants run into storm drains. Storm drains flow directly, without treatment, to the Santa Maria River or into the nearest local retention basin where the water percolates back into the groundwater. Both our river and our underlying groundwater eventually flow to the ocean. Any pollutants found in the water, stay in the water untreated, and causes ocean pollution affecting our beaches, our coast, and our ocean life.
A major contributor to the pollution problem is lawn pesticides. Think about it - if there was a way to make your lawn lush and green without using harmful pesticides and harsh fertilizers, wouldn’t you want to know about it? The key to a good lawn is healthy soil. It’s the foundation of a vibrant lawn. If your soil is dry and compacted or clay based your lawn won’t be able to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Root systems need room to grow and that won’t happen in tired, dry soil. Healthy soil contains high organic content and is teeming with biological life, supporting the development of healthy grass that is naturally resistant to weeds and pests. Once established, an organic lawn uses fewer materials, such as water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance. More importantly, your lawn will be safe for children, pets and your local drinking water supply. Follow these tips to start transitioning your lawn and you'll be well on your way to a lush, green, pesticide-free landscape.
Top-dressing – what is it?
The process of applying a layer of compost over the surface of a lawn is called Top Dressing. Top Dressing may be applied after lawn aeration, or alone as a Quick & Easy application. Golf courses and sports fields have always realized the value of top dressing the turf, but this practice has only recently become popular on home lawns. Top Dressing with Harvest Blend Compost is the most environmentally beneficial way to a greener, healthier lawn. Naturally!
When should I top-dress the lawn?
Spring and fall are the best times to top-dress, but in our temperate climate there's really no wrong time to improve our turf. Lawns based on poor soil will benefit from top dressing the soil twice each year. Lawns based on good quality soil might not need top dressing every year but if you want a lush, green lawn then once a year will keep it that way.  Professional greens keepers regularly top dress to ensure a top quality turf. If you want a beautiful lawn that can meet professional standards then you should top dress your lawn annually.
What product should I use for top-dressing?
Compost is the ideal material for lawn top-dressing. There are 2 methods we suggest; ‘Quick & Easy', simply spreading a thin layer of compost over lawns, and 'Professional'; aerating lawns before spreading compost. Instructions for both are available on our website. Harvest Blend Compost not only beautifies your landscape, it’s environmentally responsible and benefits your landscape 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 – so they stay out of our water system
For more information, please visit or email

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Got Compost: Mulch in March to Protect Soil & Prevent Weeds

Got Compost: Mulch in March to Protect Soil & Prevent Weeds: Don’t let recent rains fool you, California continues to experience drought conditions, negatively affecting local landscapes. A gr...

Mulch in March to Protect Soil & Prevent Weeds

Don’t let recent rains fool you, California continues to experience drought conditions, negatively affecting local landscapes. A great way to conserve water, add nutrients and keep pesky weeds at bay is by applying mulch. This goes for every garden site, from vegetable garden to flower bed. Mulched gardens are healthier, contain fewer weeds and are more drought-resistant then unmulched gardens. Bottom line - you'll spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.
There are two basic kinds of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stones, black plastic, and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).
Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don't break down and enrich the soil, but under certain circumstances they're the mulch of choice. For example, black plastic warms the soil and radiates heat during the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes cozy and vigorous.
Using Organic Mulches
There are two cardinal rules for using organic mulches to combat weeds. First, be sure to lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and second, lay down a thick enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it. It can take a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch to completely discourage weeds, although a 2- to 3-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots where weeds aren't as troublesome as they are in full sun.
Mulching with compost will definitely enrich your soil and make your plants happy, but remember, compost is a dense product so a little goes a long way – a 1 inch layer will do the trick. Keep mulch about 1 inch away from crowns and stems, 6-12 inches from shrub and tree trunks.
Organic Mulching Mechanics - Spreading organic mulch saves labor and nurtures plants by:
  • Preventing most weed seeds from germinating; the few weeds that do pop through the mulch will be easy to pull.
  • Protecting soil from temperature changes, reducing the need to water
  • Decomposing slowly, releasing nutrients into the soil
  • Encouraging earthworm activity, improving soil tilth and nutrient content
  • Keeping dirt from splashing on flowers and vegetables
When possible buy compost and other landscape products in BULK! STA Certified Harvest Blend CompostÒ builds healthy soil. Naturally!
Click or call for more compost info

Friday, January 3, 2014

Got Compost: Winter Planting on the Central Coast

Got Compost: Winter Planting on the Central Coast: With the holidays over, and some pretty nice temps, we can’t wait to get back to ‘work’ in the garden! While gardeners on the East Coa...

Winter Planting on the Central Coast

With the holidays over, and some pretty nice temps, we can’t wait to get back to ‘work’ in the garden! While gardeners on the East Coast and in the Midwest may be busy trying to dig out of the snow and just dreaming of spring planting while looking at seed catalogs or online, gardeners here can still be actively enjoying their gardens.  Besides the usual garden cleanup - leaves to rake, pruning and dormant spraying of trees and bushes, gardeners on the Central Coast can still enjoy planting cool season crops.  Many people think nothing much can be planted in what seems to be the dead of winter, but there are a surprising number of things that can be put in the ground this time of year besides the usual bare root roses.
In the vegetable garden, we can plant asparagus, globe artichokes and rhubarb from roots and broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower from transplants, if you can find them in a nursery or garden center. Unfortunately the selection of vegetable plants available at local outlets is limited, so you might consider starting your own transplants from seed next year or get a head start on spring planting this year.  Carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, peas, radishes and turnips can all be planted from seed.  Yes, I did say lettuce, which will tolerate some frost and can be grown all winter long in our area.  Think of fresh lettuce from your own garden, tender and sweet, not that stuff from the grocery store.  Leaf lettuce is the best bet, and most rewarding.  Did you know that head lettuce (aka Iceberg) was developed in the 1890's?  Iceberg became successful because its firm, round shape and long shelf life made it good for shipping long distances – for the first time people could have lettuce for salads the year around, not just summer.  The downside is that head lettuce just doesn't have the flavor of leaf lettuce, which tastes best when fresh.  Our favorite is a Bibb variety called Tom Thumb which produces sweet and tender miniature heads perfect an individual salad.  Just add a little dressing and enjoy!
A word about compost -
When planting, always add compost to your soil.  It is the best investment you can make in your garden and an essential step in garden preparation. Compost adds organic matter to your soil, increases water holding capacity, adds nutrients and improves soil health.  If you are preparing a garden bed, apply a layer of 2 to 4 inches of compost and work it into the soil before planting.  For planting bare root shrubs or trees (rose bushes, fruit trees, berries, etc.) add compost to the soil as you refill the hole in which you are plating them.  Add compost and watch your garden grow!
For all the details, visit Harvest Blend Compost or email