Adding compost is one of the best ways to build healthy soil, the foundation of a thriving garden. Fall is a great time to start a compost pile using the organic matter that's so abundant at this time of the year, from garden trimmings to grass clippings to autumn leaves. No matter where you garden, find out how you can make your own "black gold" to enrich your soil.
Yup. Potatoes are close relatives of tomatoes and peppers and eggplants, and make little "fruits" which contain seeds. Most of the time you are best off saving some of the tubers themselves to grow more plants - much faster, more dependable and predictable. MORE
One of the best ways to make sure you're raising healthy plants is to promote the growth of vigorous roots. Strong roots come from healthy soil. Regularly mixing compost into your soil improves its health. While compost can be purchased, making your own is easy and has numerous benefits besides helping you grow healthy plants. One benefit, of course, is the money you'll save.
Coffee grounds, along with paper coffee filters, are great as an ingredient with compost (including indoors "vermicomposting"). Bonus: coffee grounds, like tea leaves, are a good source of valuable natural nitrogen — the main ingredient that helps beneficial bacteria break down organic matter into finished compost.
We all know that adding compost is the best thing you can do for your garden. It helps build a healthy soil, makes nutrients available to plants, improves water retention and recycles organic waste. But what if you can't compost in the traditional way? For years I felt guilty about not composting. Didn't I want to make the world a better place? Of course I did! But both places where I garden make it impossible for me to have a traditional compost pile.
For the quickest composting, chop up organic materials before adding them to your pile or bin. Small pieces have more surface area for microorganisms to work on. A power shredder is a great investment if you compost on a large scale, but you can also chop leaves with a lawn mower and cut up plant material with loppers or hedge clippers.
Replenish Your Soil
Fall is a great time to add slow-acting amendments to the soil. Do a soil test first to see what's needed. Then add lime, sulfur, and rock powders like rock phosphate and greensand according to the soil test recommendations. Now is also a good time to replenish the soil by adding compost, chopped leaves, or other organic matter that will break to form humus down over the winter.
Prepare New Garden Beds
Save your back by preparing new garden beds without stripping off the sod. Cut existing grass as short as possible; then spread a layer of compost several inches thick on top. Cover with a layer of newspapers 4-5 sheets thick, wetting the papers with a hose as you lay them down. Then top with a layer of mulch, chopped leaves or more compost. By next spring the sod will have decomposed beneath its blanket, adding organic matter to the soil and the bed will be ready for planting.
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