Posts Tagged ‘compost’

Spring Lawn Care

        

First the bad news: if you neglect spring lawn care (and related concerns pertaining to your mower), you could end up paying for it the rest of the year. Now the good news: spring lawn care doesn’t entail nearly the amount of work that you’ll have to invest in mowing alone throughout the summer months.

In fact, most of you will need to implement only about half of the following ten tips for spring lawn care, depending upon your own unique circumstances. Furthermore, I point out in a few instances below that the task in question is better performed as part of your fall lawn care, if you can wait that long.

Spring Lawn Care Tip #1: Raking

 

Raking will be your first task of spring lawn care. Okay, I can hear the groans coming from all lands near and far, wherever grassy carpets are cultivated: “But we already raked leaves in the fall!” Sorry, but raking is for more than just removing leaves: it’s for controlling thatch, too. A thatch build-up of more than 1/2 inch is considered excessive.

Thatch is the reason why I recommend that, when you rake leaves in the fall, you make the effort to rake deeply. Don’t just skim the surface, so as to remove the leaves. A deep raking will remove thatch, too, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone. Even if you followed this advice in fall, I still recommend a spring raking: it will remove grass blades that died over the winter — dead blades that are just waiting to become thatch!

But there’s often another good reason for a spring raking. As you survey your lawn in spring, see if there are any matted patches, in which the grass blades are all stuck together. This can be caused by a disease known as “snow mold.” New grass may have difficulty penetrating these matted patches. But a light raking will be sufficient to solve this problem.

Just when you should perform any of these spring lawn care tasks will depend upon the climate of your own region. But Mother Nature provides palpable cues in some cases. For instance, when you’re pretty sure the snow season (if you have one) is over in your region, begin raking. Applying preemergent herbicides (see Tip #6) should be done sometime between the time the local forsythia bushes stop blooming and the time the local lilac bushes begin blooming.

Spring Lawn Care Tip #2: Check for Compaction

 

If your lawn is subjected to high levels of traffic year after year, it may eventually start to show signs of decline. In such cases, your lawn is probably suffering from compaction. For instance, the presence of moss plants signals compaction (among other things).

Lawn aeration is the remedy for compaction. The good news is that lawn aerators can be rented at your local rental center. The bad news is that the experts recommend postponing lawn aeration until fall. But if, during your “spring lawn checkup,” you become aware of compaction, at least you can plan on setting aside some time in the fall to take care of it.

Spring Lawn Care Tip #3: Liming

 

Besides compaction, the presence of moss plants also signals acidity. But grass likes a neutral soil pH. You can solve this problem by liming your soil. But don’t expect a quick fix: the effects of liming are slow to take place.

But first send a soil sample to your local county extension to determine the extent of your soil’s acidity. The county extension will also be able to advise you on how much lime per square foot you’ll need. Apply the lime using a lawn spreader.

But if your lawn has been doing fine and shows no signs of suffering from acidity, don’t apply lime. Liming is only a corrective measure, not a preventive measure. A soil that is too alkaline will also cause your lawn problems, so too much lime is as bad as not enough.

Spring Lawn Care Tip #4: Overseeding

 

Is your lawn riddled with bare patches due to dog spots, heavy traffic or neglect? If so, you may need to apply grass seed to fill in those bare patches. This solution is known as “overseeding lawns.” Apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer when you overseed. Five weeks after the grass germinates, apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.

However, spring isn’t the very best time for overseeding lawns. Fall is the preferred time, when the new grass won’t have to compete with crabgrass (see Page 2), which is killed off by autumn frosts. So postpone overseeding until fall, unless your situation is dire.

Spring Lawn Care Tip #5: Fertilizing

 

Lawns can be fertilized organically by using compost and mulching mowers. But for those who prefer chemical fertilizers, Scotts provides a lawn fertilizing schedule. Many experts, however, recommend a lighter feeding in spring and a heavier one in late fall for cool-season grasses. Too much fertilizer in spring can lead to disease and weed problems. And if you have, indeed, already fertilized in late fall, your lawn is still “digesting” that fertilizer in spring.

In addition to the above tasks of spring lawn care, don’t forget weed control and making sure your mower is ready for the mowing season.

For those who prefer weed-free lawns, spring grass care is as much about weed prevention as it is about fostering healthy lawn growth. Novices to spring grass care are often surprised to learn that not all lawn weeds are battled in the same manner. Depending upon whether a weed is an annual or a perennial, you will use a preemergent herbicide or a postemergent herbicide against it.

Spring Grass Care Tip #6: Applying Preemergent Herbicides

 

If you know that you have a problem with the annual weed, crabgrass, then fertilization in spring should go hand in hand with the application of preemergent herbicides. As their name suggests, preemergent herbicides address weed control not “after the fact,” but before their seedlings can even emerge. Preemergent herbicides accomplish this by forming something of a “shield” that inhibits seed germination. Don’t undertake the core aeration task discussed on Page 1 after applying preemergent herbicides: to do so would be to “puncture” this shield, thereby decreasing its effectiveness.

Crabgrass begins its assault on lawns in spring, when its seeds germinate. In fact, my suggestion on Page 1 that overseeding be carried out in autumn, rather than spring, is based in part on the threat posed by a spring crabgrass invasion. “So why not just begin by killing the crabgrass first with a preemergent herbicide?” perhaps you ask. Well, the trouble is that most preemergent herbicides work against not only weed seeds, but grass seeds, as well!

You can appreciate the dilemma here. Overseeding is incompatible with the application of most preemergent herbicides. Yet, faced with competition from crabgrass in spring, you may find it difficult to establish your new grass. So while it’s still possible to overseed in spring, it’s simply easier to do so in fall. There will be no competition from crabgrass then, because the fall frosts kill off crabgrass.

If you must overseed in the spring, look for a product called, “Tupersan.” Unlike other preemergent herbicides, Tupersan will not damage germinating lawn grass seed. But if you’re committed to staying away from chemicals altogether in your spring grass care, postpone overseeding till fall.

Spring Grass Care Tip #7: Applying Postemergent Herbicides — Or Pulling Weeds

 

Keep an eye out for the emergence of the perennial weed, dandelion during the spring season, unless you find the presence of their cheerful yellow flowers in your lawn desirable. At the very least, you’ll want to snap off their flower stems before they produce seed. If you’re more ambitious, you can dig them out by the roots. Spraying dandelion weeds with postemergent herbicides is more effective in fall than in spring. If you do choose to spray, select an herbicide for broadleaf weeds.

If you prefer weed control without chemicals and have consistently practiced organic landscaping, you can harvest these “weeds” as dandelion greens and eat them!

No other power equipment is as intimately associated with and essential to landscaping as is the lawn mower. You need to have a lawn mower that will consistently get the job done without any hassles throughout the lawn mowing season. And you should also know how to use the lawn mower to your best advantage. Consequently, the final three of my ten tips focus on caring for, selecting and using lawn mowers.

Tip #8: Tuning Up Existing Lawn Mowers

Mowing the lawn all summer can be tiring enough, right? Why make it more difficult on yourself by putting up with a lawn mower that doesn’t start up immediately? When a lawn mower is stubborn about starting up, that can be a sign that it needs a tuneup. Although it’s often possible to get by without one, it is recommended that you have a lawn mower tuneup each year. Don’t put it off till summer or pay someone else to do it. Learn how to tune up a lawn mower yourself using the following resource and have your machine ready to go for summer:

How to Tune Up Lawn Mowers

Tip #9: Buying a New Lawn Mower

Or perhaps you’re fed up with your old lawn mower? Time for a change? This Q&A resource for consumers will help you decide on which type of lawn mower is best for you:

The Best Lawn Mowers

Tip #10: Reviewing Lawn Mowing Strategies

“What’s there to know about lawn mowing?” perhaps you ask. “You just push the lawn mower and it cuts the grass, right?” At the most basic level, Yes. And if lawn mowing is merely a mindless chore that you perform to satisfy other people (and you really don’t care much about the health of your lawn), then you needn’t know any more about it.

However, if you do care about the health of your lawn, there’s a bit more to lawn mowing than just keeping your grass short enough to prevent the neighborhood from thinking your house has been abandonned! Spring is a good time to learn (or review) lawn mowing strategies — before it becomes so hot outside that it’s hard to think!

 

 

Question: Is there a right and a wrong method of lawn mowing?
Answer: Yes. Alternate the direction in which you mow each lawn mowing session. You will thereby prevent your grass from “getting into a rut” (literally). If your lawn mower wheels pass over the same area in the same direction each time you mow, they’ll form ruts over time. Switching lawn mowing patterns also wisely avoids having the lawn mower blade beating at the grass in the same direction at every mowing.

Planning your vegetable garden

Winter isn’t over but it’s not too early to begin thinking about the veggie garden; where strategy is especially important if you’re planning your first vegetable garden!

Today’s post is a guest article written by Geoff Wakeling that will offer some valuable insight to the first-time gardener, as well as considerations that experienced gardeners sometimes overlook.

Big Payoffs for the First-Time Vegetable Grower

New Vegetable Garden 300x225 Planning Your First Vegetable GardenGrowing vegetables at home is an absolutely fantastic way of getting fresh and extremely tasty food for the kitchen table. Many vegetables are easy to grow and require very little effort to get good crops.

And with seeds costing far less than weekly trips to the local supermarket, you could also find that the financial costs of growing your own food comes in less than it would be to buy goods which aren’t as fresh and don’t taste as good.

However, when starting your first vegetable patch it is a good idea to make a few plans so that you can maximize both your continuing interest and bountiful crops.

Which Crops are Best for that First Vegetable Garden?

There will always be something that you can grow on your vegetable patch, no matter how small it may be. Planning is vital though, ensuring that you can get the most use out of your growing area.

Rather than running off to the garden center and buying loads of seeds, first think what you use in the kitchen and which crops are most in need. There is no point growing carrots if you barely use them or don’t even like them.

Which vegetables do you like the most? Which vegetables do you have to buy week after week? These are the crops that you should look at growing, reducing your weekly expenses whilst enriching your kitchen table.

Garden Planning to Maximize Your Productivity

Another important point to consider is how long vegetables may take to grow, and how much space they need. It is a good idea to try and grow a range of crops which will provide a variety of foods at different periods.

Salad crops, especially cut-and-come-again leafy plants such as lettuces, will mature within weeks, providing ongoing fresh food as long as they’re not allowed to flower. Meanwhile onions, potatoes, or cabbages will require an entire season to grow and mature.

Do you want to plan for the future and grow a large amount of these latter harvests which you can store? Or is it better to grow fewer potatoes and allow space for other vegetables so you can get a good variety of home grown foods?

Incorporating Crop Rotation and Soil Improvement into the Plan

Whilst, if you are newcomer to vegetable growing, you won’t necessarily be armed with the experience, it is important to know a little about crop rotation and soil enrichment. Crops such as potatoes or those from the broccoli family cannot be grown in the same place each year because they are nutrient greedy and vulnerable to disease.

This means that for each season, crops must be rotated to a new growing area. This is actually ideal in many cases, as some plants such as broad beans actually ‘fix’ nitrogen, meaning that they put goodness back into the soil. Combining groups of vegetables and rotating them each year can therefore not only ward off disease but actually allow natural recovery of soils.

So, when getting ready to start your first vegetable garden ensure that you take time to plan and consider exactly what you want to gain from the experience. Taking this moment to think carefully about home growing will allow you to maximize the experience and get the best crops for you and your family.

Beginning in mid to late March I start setting out transplants of the following cold tolerant vegetables:

  • Lettuce – timing is critical for a successful harvest but you can’t beat the quality of fresh homegrown lettuce.
  • Broccoli – plant in early spring and again in late summer for a fall harvest of tasty, sweet, florets.
  • Collards – these greens tolerate the heat as well as the cold so you can keep it growing from spring right into the winter months.
  • Kale – fast growth provides large quantities of delicious and nutritious leafy greens from a wide selection of diverse varieties.
  • Kohl Rabi – an uncommon but easy to grow vegetable that deserves to be cultivated in more backyard gardens.
  • Cabbage – try planting the smaller, compact varieties like Early Jersey Wakefield to produce nice heads before summer sets in.
  • Globe Artichokes – a good choice for gardeners interested in growing something different that’s a bit of a challenge.
  • Mustard – intensely flavored greens that come in a variety of colors, shapes, and degrees of spiciness.
  • Oriental Greens – so many options to select from here including; Tatsoi, Pak-Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Mizuna, Bok Choy, and more.

All those veggies can withstand a brief cold spell and even a late snowfall shouldn’t pose much of a problem for them. I also direct seed parsnips, salsify, and Swiss Chard in early spring. Some gardeners rush their potatoes, carrots, and beets into the ground, which is okay, but I usually hold off a bit and plant them later with the intent of harvesting large roots for fall storage.

Even Earlier Harvests for the Anxious Vegetable Gardener

garlic plants 300x225 Early Spring Crops for the Vegetable GardenI prefer to plant garlic and shallots in the fall, but they can also do fine as spring planted crops. Lettuce can be hesitant to germinate so I start some seed indoors in flats to transplant outdoors later, and sow the rest directly outdoors. Sprinkle lettuce seeds in the corner of a raised bed or cold frame during early spring and let them decide when the time is right to germinate. Once they’re up and have grown a few leaves, transplant them out into open spaces in the garden.

The earliest spring harvests come from fall crops that over winter and resume growth at the end of winter. Loads of greens, spinach, and winter lettuces could all yield fresh produce from the garden about now. Then there are the leeks that survived the winter, roots such as parsnips that were left in the ground, and wild plants like dandelion and chickweed finding their way to the kitchen table.

The perennial and volunteer herbs are always a welcome sight as well, with bunches of chive leaves, tarragon, and chervil offering a sprig here and there as they awaken and push up new growth. Other good options to plant and get the garden off to a great start during spring include; onions, leeks, baby turnips, daikon radishes, peas, fava beans, and cauliflowers.

Amending Soil Naturally: Organic Soil Preparation for Spring or Fall

Adding general organic soil amendments, such as compost and other organic matter, to your gardens and flower beds in the Fall or Spring prevents soil compaction and replenishes nutrients used by the previous year’s plantings. What’s more, Fall and Spring cleanup projects, lawn mowing and leaf raking, provide an abundance of free organic material that is ideal for use in organic soil improvements. Your gardens will thrive with a boost from organic amendments at either time of year (or both!).

Periodic organic soil improvements are needed to continuously meet your garden’s demands for nutrients. Without adequate soil nutrition, the health and yield of blooms, vegetables and fruits will suffer. Additionally, organic soil amendments are used to correct drainage problems and increase aeration of the soil. Improving your soil in the Fall gives your garden adequate time to process and break down organics, so Spring is met with a soil preparation that is balanced in both nutrition and texture. Spring organic amendments deliver new, nutrient packed organic soil at the ready for plant growth and health.

drainage, tilling
Before you begin, you first need to determine what your organic soil is lacking. The experience of the past planting season should be an indication as to whether or not drainage is an issue you need to address. If your soil was too sandy, draining too quickly and drying out your plants, use organic matter to build up the soil and help your garden and plants retain moisture in the season to come. Alternatively, clay heavy soils do not properly drain, leaving you with rotting seeds and roots in too wet soil or standing water. Cutting organic soil with sand will increase the ability of clay laden soils to drain.

Garden centers and nurseries carry a variety of soil tests that you can perform at home to determine nutritional deficiencies and levels of soil acidity. Use these tests to decide what you need to add before you proceed with amending your soil organically.

Many organics naturally occurring in your yard are ideal for building up your organic garden soil. A simple lawn mowing provides one of the best resources for organic garden soil improvement. Mow your lawn and bag or rake the shredded leaves and grass clippings to work into your soil. Not only will the grass and leaf bits break down to provide essential soil nutrients, but they will work to loosen and aerate the soil as well, increasing root health during the next Spring and Summer growing season. This will aid in soil drainage, too.

Some of the most commonly added and least expensive organic amendments for your organic garden soil are:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • peat moss
  • leaf mold
  • sawdust

Compost: Victory Garden author James Crockett calls compost “the caviar of organic materials” for its ability to retain moisture and provide numerous rich nutrients to organic garden soil. Composted matter has a rich, dark, crumbly consistency, somewhat coarse in texture. The nutrients in a given compost are dependent upon what went into it. A soil test can be helpful in determining the nutritional composition of your compost if it is of concern to you.

Sand: Mixing sand into heavy soils helps to improve the drainage of the soil, and the loosened soil allows roots to grow. Many gardeners recommend using Contractor’s or Builder’s Sand for its natural coarseness. The grains in a Builder’s Sand are usually larger than something like a beach or play sand, helping to decrease organic soil compaction.

Manure: Composted manure is another organic amendment that is well known for the benefits it brings to your organic garden soil. Composted manure resembles a very rich, dark soil. It is easy to work into the soil, improving organic soil drainage and moisture retention. Composted manure is very high in nitrogen.

Lime: A byproduct of mining processes, lime (or limestone as it may be called) is a white, chalky powder used on organic lawns and gardens to lower soil acidity. Lime contains calcium and magnesium which reduce soil pH. Lime is now widely available in a pelletized form which is not as dusty as powdered lime and is more comfortable to work with.

Peat Moss: Peat Moss is a naturally occurring lightweight moss, grown commercially for gardening use and sold in garden centers. Peat moss acts as a sponge in the soil, dramatically improving an organic soil’s ability to retain moisture.

Leaf Mold:
Leaf Mold is a mixture of composted leaves. A cost free organic amendment made from leaves raked from your yard, Leaf Mold slowly releases nitrogen and potassium into the soil. Leaf mold is another high source of these elements.

Sawdust:
Sawdust or wood chips are made from chipped or ground trees, trimmings and bark. Ground wood products are helpful to improve the drainage and texture of organic garden soils. Mixing sawdust or ground wood into your organic soil gives it a light, airy texture.

Application Process

To apply amendments to organic garden soils, you will first need to loosen the soil. If the soil is too wet from periods of rain, let the soil dry for a few days as wet, heavy soils are difficult to work. For dry soil or new garden plots that have not been worked before, a thorough watering a few days ahead of time will make your job easier. Using a rototiller for large areas or a fork and spade for existing beds, break up the soil to a depth of approximately six to twelve inches (the lower range is appropriate for existing beds).

With a shovel, spread your composts and organic amendments evenly over the garden patch. Blend the organic nutrients into the soil using a gardening fork or your rototiller (if you don‘t own a rototiller, they are often available for rental through home centers). After you have thoroughly worked the materials into the garden soil, level the area with a rake.

Your organic soil is now properly replenished for the upcoming planting season. Over the course of time, the organic amendments you have added will continue to break down and build a high quality organic soil for a plentiful gardening season ahead, effecting a slow-release of nutrients that is of most use to your garden plants. If you choose, you may repeat the soil and acidity tests in the Spring prior to planting, to determine if further adjustment is needed. Over the course of the Spring and Summer growing season, begin a pile of compost to naturally amend and replenish your organic garden soil in the Fall with rich organic matter harvested from your yard and kitchen.

Composting

It was once something those overzealous, health conscious, everything-natural freaks did.

But now it’s something even mainstream America might be doing. It’s called composting.

An ever-increasing number of local governments are banning the disposal of yard wastes-grass clipping and leaves-in landfills. Most localities have forbidden leaf burning for years. So where are the grass clippings and leaves to go?

Into your compost heap, of course.

Whether you begin composting out of necessity or a sincere desire to improve the environment, it is extremely easy to do.

YOUR BACKYARD COMPOST PILE

Composting is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be a part of recycling. It reduces the amount of trash generated. It can be reused in your yard and it recycles nutrients back into the soil and plant life.

Composting experts will argue the merits of an open-air system versus a closed-air system, the merits of layering the compost material versus mixing it together, or even whether to turn the pile.

But if all you are interested in is getting rid of your yard waste, you can rest assured that there is very little that can go wrong with composting.

Whether you choose an open or closed system, carefully layer the materials or mix the ingredients. Let it sit or turn every few days and it will become compost within a certain period of time.

Where to Locate

The ideal location for your compost pile is under a tree. The partial shade will keep the pile from drying out too fast. However, it should not be a tree that is highly acidic such as pine, black walnut, juniper, eucalyptus or cypress.

A location near the kitchen is helpful, but more important is a location that has good drainage. It also is useful to have an area near the pile to store materials that will be added to the pile later.

To Contain or Not Contain

The simplest and least expensive way to begin composting is to start a compost heap. The pile should be at least 6′ x 6′ and about 5′ to 6′ high in the middle. Anything smaller will maintain low temperatures and will take longer to decompose. As the pile deteriorates, it will tend to sprawl and shrink. Compost heaps can be untidy and displeasing to look at, especially in urban areas. Compost heaps are what sometimes give composting its bad reputation.

Containers keep the compost materials neat and tidy. They can be inexpensively built from discarded shipping pallets, fencing or chicken wire or leftover treated lumber from another building project.

Four shipping pallets tied together with rope, wire or chain with an optional fifth pallet at the bottom for increased air circulation will make an adequate container for your composting materials.

A wire bin can be made by tying together 2″x4″x36″ wire fencing into a hoop shape.

An elaborate three-bin system can be built from purchased materials. With the three-bin system, each bin is approximately 36″ square and shares a common lid and internal sides. In a three-bin composting system, one bin is the active compost pile, one is left empty to make turning easier, and the third is used as a holding bin for materials to be composted.

Composting can also be done in a plastic trash can which has had the bottom cut off and 24 to 48 holes drilled into the sides to increase air flow.

Many different types of composting bins are also available for purchase. There are wooden open-air bins, plastic open-air bins, plastic closed-air bins and rotating drums. The rotating drums are the most expensive but are convenient because they make turning the compost easy.

Other Tool of the Trade

Accessory tools for composting could include a long-handled pitch fork for easy turning, a special aerating tool to keep the pile aerated and a compost thermometer, which has a long probe to accurately determine the internal temperature of the pile.

THE COMPOST RECIPE

Like any good recipe, the compost recipe is subject to variation by the cook. The more greens/nitrogen (fresh grass clippings, food scraps) in the pile, the “hotter” the mixture and the faster it will decompose. The brown ingredients (dry leaves, dry grass, wood shavings) add carbon to the mixture and help keep the pile cool.

An ideal mixture would be 50% greens and 50% brown, but this can vary from one-quarter to one-half green and one-half tp three-quarters brown.

Other items that can be added to the pile to help the “brew” but are not necessary include:

garden soil (1/2 shovelful)
finished compost (1/2 shovelful)
bonemeal (1/2 shovelful)
bloodmeal (1/2 shovelful)
fireplace ashes (shovelfuls)
crushed fertilizer rock dust (shovelfuls)
compost starter (see manufacturer directions)
Your Yard Waste

Just about any of the yard waste that you would bag up and set out on the curb for the trash haulers to carry away can be used in your compost heap. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Wet grass clipping should be mixed thoroughly to prevent odors.
Any woody material larger than 1/4″ in diameter should be cut and bruised to provide more surface area for it to break down.
Weeds must go into a “hot” pile (140 degrees to 150 degrees) to destroy the seeds.
To keep more consistent weeds, such as Bermuda grass, from coming back after the compost is harvested, place them in a black plastic bag in direct sunlight for several weeks, then chop them up and place them in the compost bin.
Plants infected with insect eggs should not be added because even a “hot” pile may not kill the eggs and the insects could re-infest your yard when the compost is harvested.
Highly acidic or poisonous plants should be added in very small quantities or nor at all.
Ivy and succulent plants should be chopped or shredded before adding to the compost pile because they may regrow when the compost is harvested or may even begin growing in the compost pile.
Other Ingredients

Food wastes such as vegetable and fruit scraps, breads, pastas, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags are all acceptable nitrogen sources for your compost bin.
Do not put meats or fats in your compost pile. These food wastes will attract animals and rodents to your bin.
Manures from cows, horses, chickens and any non-meat eating animals are excellent nitrogen sources for starting the decomposition process.
Paper towels, toilet paper tubes and other shredded paper products can also be added to your compost bin.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Some people have concerns about compost heaps fearing they will attract insects, rodents and other pests as well as produce undesirable odors. Most of these worries are unfounded, especially with a properly maintained pile.

A good, healthy pile should present no problems. As a general rule of thumb, if it smells like soil, then everything is working like it should.

Odors in your compost bin are usually caused by too many greens or a proper amount of greens not adequately stirred into the mixture. If odor problems start, try mixing in more brown materials such as dried leaves, straw, compost or garden soil.
Flies should not be attracted to your compost pile if food scraps are buried 6″ to 12″ in the center of the pile. Just dumping food waste on the top of the pile is what causes flies to seek out your compost bin.
Rodents should not be attracted to your compost pile if you do not add meats or fatty foods. Should rodents become a problem, try turning the pile and purchasing rodent repellent at your hardware store or home center.
Moisture, too much or not enough, can also be a problem. If it is too wet, the pile will rot rather than decompose. If it is too dry, nothing will happen. A cover will help keep it from getting too wet during rainy seasons. A garden hose can be used to add any necessary moisture. The pile should have the wetness of a squeezed-out sponge.
Cold, winter weather will slow down the decomposition process. Make the pile larger and/or cover it, and it will maintain its heat and do a slow simmer during the colder months.

TOOL AND MATERIAL CHECKLIST Long-handled pitch fork Wire staples
Compost aerating tool Power stapler
Compost thermometer Nails
Compost starter Nuts and bolts
2″x4″x36″ wire fencing Hardware cloth
Trash can Zinc-plated hinges
Pre-made compost bin Corner and T-braces
Treated lumber Hand or circular saw
Rope or chain Drill and drill bits hammer
Bone meal Tin snips
Leaf blower/vac Tape measure
Chipper/shredder Safety glasses
Lawn cart Screwdriver

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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