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Planning for spring - now?


Sun, Sep 24th, 2000
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Fall yard cleanup chores and planning for better soil in your gardens and flower beds go hand in hand. Piles of dead plants can become your next year's garden mulch and soil conditioner.

You can add humus to your own garden or flowerbeds by composting the leaves you rake and the plants that die back from the frost. The backyard composting pile does not have to be elaborate. There are new composting structures you can purchase, but chicken wire, a few boards or blocks can work just as well.

Composting takes very little time once you make it a habit. You need organic materials (leaves, dead plants, grass clippings, coffee grounds, vegetable peels), moisture and air in a pile, container or enclosure. To eliminate any offensive odors, keep your compost pile warm, moist and turned regularly.

The materials in the pile should be as moist as a wrung out sponge. Turn the pile to provide oxygen about once a week. If the pile is too small, there won't be enough heat generated in the pile. You may need to place straw or loose leaves on top of the pile if it is less than 3'x3"x4". The outside temperature will also make a difference to how fast the materials will decompose.

Some cities have city compost piles available to their residents. Check with your city clerk to find out. This can also be a source for your next year's soil conditioner. More composting information is available through the Extension Office.

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