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Is Finished Compost the Only Thing You Need for Your Soil and Plants?

If you’re an organic gardener, even a beginner, I can almost bet you’ve heard of and/or read about compost.

Have the articles that you’ve read given their definition of compost? You can’t assume that their definition of compost is the same as the one you have in your mind.

It’s important to have the same meaning or description of compost as the writer. Otherwise, […]

Mulch – To Use it or Not – Points to Consider

I’ve always been a mulch gardener.  I’ve never understood how anyone gardened without it. I couldn’t. The benefits that it offers far outweigh any disadvantage that it may have.

But as with most things — there’s always someone for it and someone against it. And whether I understand it or not — that’s just the way it is.

Recently a reader left a comment […]

Mulching – A way to Increase your Yield

A reader wrote to me with an observation that I found so significant, I wanted to share it with everyone. It’s a story that vividly allows you to see what a difference mulching can make.

Reader’s Observation

During those unseasonably warm days in mid March after noticing that her peas were wilting in the heat of the day she got out her soil thermometer […]

Secrets to Almost Effortless Maintenance of Borders and Gardens

Thanksgiving day I worked in the yard for about 2 hours. I got to thinking while I was out there how glad I am that I don’t have to do all the work that a lot of gardeners think they have to do.

When I was at the funeral home the day before Betsy’s funeral, I saw an acquaintance who passes our house everyday […]

Soil – Can You Wear it Out?

At the end of a recent post, Gayle, a reader of TMG gave a word of testimony to the effectiveness of my method of gardening.  She said, “This summer I made a point of layering as much straw as possible over walkways and beds, between plants. In just one season, our soil is incredibly rich, dark, friable, and filled with earthworms. Now that it […]

One Reason Plants Wilt and Actions that Help

There are many reasons that plants can wilt. Heat (especially coupled with direct sunlight) is one. 99% of the time running for the watering can or hose is not the answer.

I know it’s always upsetting to see a plant wilt.  I’ve seen it many times over 33 years and as much as I know “all will be well in the morning” — I […]

Mulching - 3 Things to Keep in Mind

I made a mistake this spring and it cost me some crops in this year of severe drought. —–read more—-

How Is Your Garden in This Drought?

My guess is if you’re a bare ground gardener you’re not doing well at all.  If you mulch I would imagine you’re still having some difficulties, although you’ve probably made it through a lot better than conventional gardeners.

Even if you’re set up to water, it’s not the same as rain to plants. I don’t water, but when I thought I was going to lose my cucumbers and squash for sure, I hauled several gallons of water to them (twice) to try to get them through.   Fortunately – we had just enough rain last week to help them make a recovery.

The picture below is what you see as you walk into my garden. The cucumber is growing into my asparagus.  Tomatoes are to the left and right. (Summer poinsettia at bottom left corner of picture reseeds in my garden every year.  It’s so lovely I would hate to pull it all up.) This was taken yesterday, July 21, 2010.

Here’s how the same cucumbers  have been —–read more—-

Why Mulch Your Garden Paths?

This post was inspired by a reader of my site who has recently invested some time in preparing a new garden bed.  Her sister-in-law is doing the same and they had a question regarding a recommendation I made in the second part of the post Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement.

In preparing a new bed I advised adding about 3 feet to each side of the area designated for the bed and dig that at the same time you dig the bed.  The soil from the path area would be thrown up on the bed leaving the paths much lower than the bed.  I then recommended mulching the paths as well as the bed.

(Picture below shows my new roll of straw.  I try to keep one on hand all the time.)

My reader writes:
“My sister-in law was wondering —and I got stumped a bit— as to why it is important to mulch the paths.  ———I guessed that since you use the path dirt to raise the bed, old weed seeds get exposed.  Mulching the paths helps keep the weeds down and keeps them from seeding into your beds.—”

She’s correct of course.  When you dig up ground —– buried weed seeds are exposed and therefore can germinate. Mulching the paths keeps the weeds down and/or controllable.

The nearer weeds grow to your garden beds the greater the chance they’ll re-seed in your bed.  Even if you’re diligent in removing them ——life is life —–and in all probability sooner or later you are going to have some weeds grow and go to seed in your beds.  Much less chance of this happening with mulch on the paths.

There are other important reasons to mulch —–read more—-

Last Part - Adding Organic Matter - 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

If you are just joining me I recommend you read the articles that preceded this article. Here are the links:

Soil Improvement – Your Foundation for Success;   Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d. Soil Preparation – 1st Key to Soil Improvement; first part of Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement; Cont’d Adding Organic Matter – 2nd Key to Soil Improvement

Compost

Many organic gardeners compost. In case you don’t know, ‘to compost’ is to pile up organic material and allow it to totally decay.  There’s more to it than that —-but you get the idea.  The finished product — called compost — can be added to the soil at any time for the purpose of improving the physical condition of the soil and feeding plants.

When I first started gardening I started composting.  I did so for 10 years or more.  I never had enough.  I stopped composting.

I changed to incorporating —–read more—-