Backyard Composting

Backyard composting 101 can have a substantial impact to aid gardening and lawn care. It’s not a passing trend that will be forgotten, so if you have the right conditions and preparation, you should start a compost pile for yourself.

Gardeners have known for a while how beneficial using compost as a soil amendment is. Homeowners are slowly becoming aware that compost can be incredibly useful in their lawns.

What Is Composting?

Organic composting is a natural process where a pile of yard waste and kitchen scraps is broken down. Mix the right ingredients in the right proportions and bacteria, fungi, and worms produce an organic material that praised as “black gold.” The precious organic matter is then added to the soil to improve its structure, fertility, and water holding capacity.

The composting process needs four plus one components to happen:

Carbon (C)

Nitrogen (N)

Moisture

Oxygen (O2)

Microorganisms

In the presence of moisture and oxygen, two types of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, bugs, and worms to work in three stages to create compost. How long the entire process takes depends on how involved you are, the size of your pile, and what you put into it. The right balance of ingredients allows microorganisms to decompose carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) so plant life can further extract nutrients and grow to release oxygen (O2) back in the atmosphere. The more nutrient soil is, the more greenery will thrive.

The Materials in a Compost Pile

 Most decomposable materials in compost piles can be classified as either brown or green materials, depending on their makeup.

Materials for composting: BROWN & GREEN

Brown materials are carbon-rich items that provide energy to the microorganisms in the pile and give compost its light, fluffy body. Typical brown items are more wood-based, or fibrous: dry leaves, branches, stems, sawdust, tree bark, shredded newspaper, corn stalks, wood ash, and pine needles.

Green materials are nitrogen-based waste materials. They provide amino acids and proteins needed for the bacteria and fungi to do their job. Manures, food scraps, coffee grounds, green leaves, and grass clippings are excellent nitrogen-rich green materials. A simple rule of thumb is to make sure the compost pile has approximately 2/3 “brown” materials and 1/3 “green” materials.

There are many different ways to make compost in your back yard; the main difference is where you pile your materials or use a composter. The different methods for backyard composting 101 offer flexibility and vary in cost and difficulty.

Piling is a simple, common process. Materials are literally heaped into a pile and turned periodically to aerate.

Composting bins are either open or enclosed bins that contain everything. Open bins are a partial structure allowing for ventilation and aeration while keeping materials confined. One side is easily accessible to add materials and turn the pile. Enclosed bins completely enclose the process via a lid and eliminate both the sight of a compost pile and the smell.

Tumblers are a unique, efficient type of enclosed compost bin. Cylindrical in nature, a tumbler has hand-hold insets or a handle that allows it to be “turned” or tumbled easily.

What Foods Can composted?

Fruit or Vegetable leftovers

Meat leftovers

Coffee leftovers

Eggshells

Tea

Leaves

Wood

Shredded paper

Soiled cardboard

What can’t composted:

Animal byproducts – dairy, bones, and meat,

Foods rich on fat and oil – mayonnaise, peanut butter, salad dressing or vegetable oils

Feces – dog, cat or human

Garden waste treated with pesticides

Garden waste from sick plants

Weeds will grow instead of decomposing

Biodegradable plastics

How to Tell When Your Compost is Ready

When all of the waste has been broken down, and the compost is ready to use the temperature of the pile will drop dramatically. The resulting material will look and feel like really dark, rich soil with a deep, earthy smell.

Have you started compost? If so, please leave a comment

How to grow avocado tree

First clean and prepare the pit by suspending it in a glass of water using 3-4 tooth picks along the sides of the avocado pit, for the bottom to hang into the water. Which side of the avocado seed goes in the water?

The toothpicks should be supporting the seed so that the pointed half is out of the water and the bottom half is in the water. The sprouting tip will come out of the pointed end, so be sure the flat end is immersed in water.

Next place the glass with pit in a sunny window sill and change the water every other day. Make sure the water is at room temp. The pit will split after two weeks at this time carefully pull off the skin.

Four to Eight weeks later the stem will start to break and rise up from the middle of the pit. The roots should be growing and at this time is when you will take it out of the water and plant it into soil.

Remember the stem should be at least 8-10 inches from the pit and at this time is when you should plant. The stem should have tiny leaves as well.

Place the pit so half of it is covered into the soil and press firmly around it. You can start off by planting the small avocado in a container in a sunny location outdoors.

Remember to keep your new little plant in a sunny location and watered to help it flourish and grow into a tree.

Blooming Air Plants

Do air plants bloom flowers?

Yes, every air plant will only bloom once in its lifetime. Once the flower has dried up, you should trim off the entire flower stalk, as this will promote “pupping. Tillandsia “Pups” are simply new plants forming at the base of the plant.

How do I get my air plant to bloom?

Most healthy Tillandsia will bloom eventually, but they require proper care and plenty of light in order to do so. To help speed up the blooming process, you can use a diluted fertilizer like our specially formulated Air Plant Food once per month or so to encourage blooms and pup production.

How long does it take for air plants to bloom?

In their natural habitat, it takes much longer for the air plants to bloom. The time of the bloom varies even in the same species of air plants let alone in different types. The same species of air plants that might bloom in 5-7 years in one environment might take around 25 years to bloom in another environment.

Flowering is the peak of the air plant life cycle, but also marks the beginning of the plant’s old age -after it flowers, the plant will eventually die. But don’t despair! Just before, during or after flowering, depending on the species, your air plant will reproduce by sending out 2-8 “pups”.

You can buy air plants at your local garden shop or at our Etsy shop http://www.printhousedesign.com

DIY Butterfly Feeders

If you are looking to add more butterflies to your garden this year, you may need to reevaluate the plants that you have in your flower garden. Or, you could just make your own DIY butterfly feeder and I have a list  to make ones that you can try.

Adding a butterfly feeder to your garden adds instant décor, especially if you try these DIY butterfly feeders. All of these are really decorative and beautiful. Plus, when you fill them with nectar, they attract so many butterflies! Butterflies are essential for helping to pollinate many flowers and plants and let’s face it, there is just nothing as lovely as seeing several butterflies in your yard. Adding a butterfly feeder to your garden is going to help you to attract these creatures and they will do the rest. 

You don’t have to have a jug or buy materials to make a great butterfly feeder. You can upcycle some old glass dishes to create one that is just as gorgeous as it is functional. Just grab those old glass plates, glasses, teacups or whatever you have on hand and fashion them into a lovely feeder that you can stand in your garden. This one is really easy to make and it is so gorgeous – plus it is a wonderful way to up cycle those old glass dishes.

This is a great project for the kids. You can take an old pie tin – one of the cheap ones that comes with premade pie crust – and turn it into a lovely DIY butterfly feeder. Let the little ones help you to create a hanger from beads and twine and then decorate the tin however you want. Butterflies will flock to this one and they can all eat at the same time so you may see hoards of them hovering over your garden at feeding time.

The next time you empty a can of something, save the can. You can turn it into a lovely hanging butterfly feeder. This one won’t cost you anything to build and it is a wonderful way to upcycle tin cans. Just decorate however you want and then fill the can with flowers and other items that butterflies love to eat. This is a great project for the kids, too and they can help to make sure that the can always has food for your butterflies.

You can DIY a butterfly feeder that also gives the little creatures the water that they need. I love how easy this one is. You just stack a couple of plates or terra cotta pieces and then hang them together. The top plate will be used to hold water and you can add nectar or fruit pieces or flowers that your butterflies love to eat to the bottom section. It’s an all in one buffet for your butterflies!

Hope these little ideas help you attract more butterflies to your flower garden this season.

Creating a Sandy Terrarium

With so many amazing containers and varied ways to create them, terrariums are standing the test of time. Today I’ll show you another fun way we’ve come up with for creating sand terrariums—these adorable table-top gems. 

Succulents.

Typically, we don’t recommend succulents or cacti for terrariums. They don’t like being wet or cooped up inside a glass house. But everyone loves them, they look great as specimens (as opposed to leafy ferns and other plants that thrive in terrarium conditions), and they’re really easy to plant.

So, if you’re going to use them, only water the actual plant in small amounts (a turkey baster is a great tool for this), never cover the terrarium or put them in a cloche, and accept this simple philosophy: You might kill the plant, but remember how much fun you had making your terrarium.

Things you’ll want for making your terrarium.

After you’ve picked the succulents you want to use, you’ll need to gather a few other items to begin. Using moss and little bits of driftwood for decorating can be a great accent with the plant.

Buy sand from a craft store.

Craft sand comes in many colors and you can have a lot of fun with this. Get at least three choices that complement each other and make you happy.

Start layering your sand.

Find a glass container that you like. (We prefer one that has a top large enough to work with and sides that are straight so you can really see the sand design.) Lay down your base layer of sand evenly across the bottom.

Building the layers of sand by pouring the different colors of sand in piles all around the sides of the terrarium.  Be careful not to fill up the center. When you’ve got the sand to a height you’re happy with, lay down a layer of pebbles to help with drainage and to keep the sand stable for when you add your plants.

Then you want to add your soil. Always use cactus mix as it’s much looser than normal potting soil and works better for succulents. You don’t need much; just add an inch or so and then make a little hole in the center. Do this by pushing the soil down (and maybe taking a tad out). This is why you don’t want too much sand in the middle.

Pull your succulent out of its container (2″ varieties work best) and shake off as much soil as possible without damaging the roots. Place it into the hole in your soil. Do this with as many plants as you can fit (or just use one if you’d prefer). Don’t worry about the plants being crowded… most succulents actually like that. Add another layer of pebbles to finish the top. Here’s where a paint brush comes in handy. It helps even everything out. Now you have one very cute terrarium that you made yourself.  Soon you will be able to purchase terrariums at our Gardenocity Shop and you can find succulents to purchase there as well.

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