Organic Gardening with Compost - Using Compost for a Naturally Healthy Lawn and Garden
Why use compost?
It's simply the most natural choice available. Mature compost is safe for you and your family. It contains nothing unnatural or poisonous. Your garden & lawn will be safe for you, your children and your pets to use during and immediately after application. Compost improves your lawn & gardens' drought tolerance and reduces watering requirements by improving the plant's root systems and the soils' ability to retain water. Mature compost can safely be applied around pools and applied directly into ponds, streams and rivers without risk to the environment. It also promotes & creates an environment in which birds & butterflies thrive. Your lawn & garden will have fewer weeds, insect pests or diseases. Compost allows the soil to gain strength naturally and the plants grown it will naturally thrive. Compost gives you healthier and more attractive soil, grass, trees & plants. You will need no synthetic chemical fertilizers or poisons. Co
Can using compost save me time, money & labor?
Yes! You will no longer need to bag the grass clippings or to remove thatch as compost aids in their rapid assimilation. The compost will also reduce the amount of water needed. Compost improves the heat and drought tolerance of your lawn & garden thus decreasing loss and replacement costs. Healthy plants simply require less maintenance. These facts alone save you much time, money and labor.
Does compost improve the heat and drought tolerance of my plants?
Yes! The organic materials in compost, in conjunction with the rhizobacteria and rhizofungi, naturally loosen and aerate the soil. This allows greater water & root penetration. The same combination works together to encapsulate and hold moisture in the soil by creating soil aggregates. Soil aggregates are a naturally occurring microcosmic system that rhizobacteria & rhizofungi produces in order to keep themselves from drying up and dying. The plant roots grow into these aggregates and are provided a natural reserve of nutrients and water that otherwise would have dissipated from the soil.
What is compost?
According to Webster's dictionary "a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land." Properly composted material is heated by the decomposition process and does not have any weed seeds, nor, will it burn your plants as chemical fertilizers do.
Does compost smell bad?
No! not if it's fully 'matured'. We advise that you only use fully composted material. Fully composted, organic material smells like rich organic garden soil. If it smells like anything else, do not use it, as it is not mature and can cause harm to your lawn & garden. Not all composts are created equally and we suggest that you fully investigate the source of the supplier. Truly mature, "organic", compost is totally safe & nontoxic to your family and the soil in which the plants grow.
What is Compost Tea?
A simple definition of compost tea is that it is a water extract of organic compost that is brewed in a similar way that your morning tea is made. It contains natural soluble nutrients and a great diversity of beneficial, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. It is a totally organic, living, synergistic microcosm that introduces renewed life to the soil and plants. From our many years of experience we've found that compost tea supercharges new compost applications.
How does compost/tea help to suppress disease causing bacteria and fungi?
The rhizobacteria (good bacteria) controls the growth of the "bad" bacteria by keeping the soil aerobic so that the 'bad' bacteria cannot live & prosper. Likewise the "good" fungi compete with the "bad" fungi and keep them under control as well. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants in the same way that healthy food makes for healthy people and animals.
What do beneficial bacteria do for plants?
Beneficial bacteria make essential soil mineral elements available to the plant by decomposing organic matter and improving the physical properties of the soil. Trees, flowers and lawns that have an abundance of rhizobacteria live longer, need little to no chemical treatment, as they suffer from very few disease problems.
How does compost/tea reduce thatch?
"Thatch" is simply a layer of dead un-decayed plant material. The rhizobacteria breaks down the thatch into organic humus that is then reintroduced naturally into the soil to feed the grass.
Why not use chemical fertilizers?
Synthetic chemicals sterilize the soil and make more and more applications of chemicals absolutely necessary. This is like putting your plants on continuous life support. They may stay barely alive, but they will never thrive. Your lawn & garden will suffer from continuous problems which will require more water, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides & ever greater amounts of fertilizer. It's very important that you don't use synthetic chemicals on your lawn or garden.
What about weeds?
Long term use of compost and compost tea while avoiding chemical fertilizers can prevent weeds naturally. According to Dr. Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc.: "Weeds all require high levels of nitrates, so nitrogen fertilizer actually selects for weeds, If you drop your nitrates to less than 10 ppm, the weeds leave. When you have mycorrhizal fungi directly feeding plants, you can drop soil nitrate levels below that threshold level and thistle, johnson grass, and nightshade all disappear. If you have good calcium levels, you decrease the composites, because they can't tolerate calcium. Next time you want to get rid of crabgrass, mix egg shells into the ground." Reprinted from the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener. Dr. Ingham Puts Soil Life to Work - Maine Organic Farmer '99'
We also recommend periodic Corn Gluten meal applications. Corn gluten meal is a useful, natural, pre-emergent pesticide that works very well in controlling weeds and greatly compliments the usage of compost and compost tea.
What about insects?
Any naturally healthy environment has a great need of bio-diversity. Chemically treated gardens create an unnatural and imbalanced state. Using compost and compost tea instead of chemicals promotes natural bio-diversity and a subsequent growth of beneficial insect populations. The beneficial insects prey upon the harmful pests & naturally keep them from overwhelming the garden ecology. In urban settings, it's often necessary to reintroduce beneficial insects into your lawn & garden from outside sources.
How long will it take to see results?
You can see results within two weeks after the first application of compost. Using a combination of compost & compost tea, we have seen results in as soon as four seven days during the growing season. Your lawn & garden will continue to improve each day thereafter as the soil becomes more alive. Even greater improvement will be noticed with additional compost and compost tea applications.
Related Tags: natural, lawn care, pest control, organic gardening, compost, compost tea, green living, non toxic
Conrad Cain is the President of Home & Garden Design, Inc. Home & Garden Design supplies residential landscape design and installation and promotes naturally organic, lawn and garden reclamation in the Atlanta Georgia area. In conjunction with his life partner Danna Cain, ASLA landscape Architect, they have more than 50 years experience in the Green Industry. Their mutual creations have been featured in national & regional magazines, local garden tours and numerous feature articles. For additional Green Living information please visit: http://www.mygreennetwork.com and http://www.homegardendesign.comYour Article Search Directory : Find in Articles
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