bertrandfarm

…Come Grow With Us!

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

Composting

I’d give anyone a pat on the back that is composting their food scraps as apposed to throwing them in a plastic trash bag. But for those of us who want to take a step further and use our compost to produce valuable fruits and vegetables, there are a few things that you need to know first. Healthy compost that breaks down quickly is more than just a pile scraps. There are certain levels of Nitrogen and Carbon that create the perfect pile.

The Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio

Every compost pile needs a balance of materials that contain Carbon and Nitrogen. How can you tell which is which? Materials with high amounts of Carbon would be brown in color and drier. Materials that are wet and green would contain more amounts of Nitrogen. Generally speaking, a 30 to 1 Carbon Nitrogen ratio is ideal. This does not mean your compost pile has 30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen. This is referring to the amount of carbon and nitrogen that are in the specific compostable material you have added.

  • BROWN– Carbon: Nitrogen is greater than 30:1
    • Dry materials 40-50% carbon.
  • GREEN– Carbon : Nitrogen is less than than 30:1
    • Wet Materials 10-20% carbon.

Here is a list of common compostables and their C:N.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 2.32.14 PM

https://www.planetnatural.com/composting-101/making/c-n-ratio/

The MATH

To get a general idea of the Carbon to Nitrogen ratios you have in your compost pile, add up the number of carbon in each item divided by the number of items you have. Example: Leaves 60 + Veggies 25 + Food Waste 20 = 105 Carbon. 105 divided by 3 = 35. This would be a decent composting mixture because 35 is close to the 30:1 ratio.

H2O and O2

In addition to the Nitrogen and Carbon ratio, water and oxygen need to be present. You can aerate your compost by mixing the compost up with a shovel. It is important to keep moisture for decomposers to break down the matter and do their job. The sun can allow for faster decomposition but only if the compost pile has enough moisture. Dry compost will slow down decomposition. Water your compost as needed, just like you would do for your plants. If there are days were there is too much sun you can put a tarp over your pile to help retain moisture.

Let’s take a closer look…

Microscopic organisms, insects, worms, snails, and fungi are all decomposing the organic material. As they break down this material, they release carbon dioxide and heat. This is why ideal temperatures for a compost pile are around 90-140°F… pretty toasty. However, temperatures higher than this can kill off not only pathogens but beneficial bacteria in your compost as well. When you go to plant your garden, if the temperatures exceed this range it is usually because you have too much Nitrogen in your compost and this could put your plants in danger of disease. Temperatures lower than 90°F may have too much Carbon. Low temperatures allow for slower decomposition rates and you will just have organic material, not compost.

Generally Speaking

In terms of parts, generally speaking you can have two parts green to one part brown in your compost. So for every two buckets of food scraps I dump in my compost I want to make sure I add one bucket of paper or leaves on top and repeat the process. Check out http://www.homecompostingmadeeasy.com/carbonnitrogenratio.html for more information.

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting!

Time to Transplant!

pencil-png-image--pencil-png-image-27

You may be to the point now where your seedlings need to be transplanted into a bigger space. For transplanting, a pencil is your best friend! Use one to lever the plant out of the tray by pushing up on the soil around the roots. Avoid touching the stem and roots of the plant because they are very sensitive and this could harm them for the rest of their lives! When handling seedlings, hold them by the cotyledons or baby leaves. These baby leaves will eventually fall off the plant and it is the safest area to handle your seedling. Next, using your pencil, dig a hole that is big enough for the root system to coil into. Avoid forcing the roots down the hole. Instead, allow the root hairs to attach to the tip of your pencil and guide the root system down the hole until only the cotyledons are showing on top of the soil. Finally, close the hole by moving dirt around the plant with your pencil.

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting!

Seed Starting

It’s that time of year! Starting your seed planting now will allow you to begin gardening as soon as the weather warms up. Here are some important tips on how to seed start.

They’re just like us!

Contrary to belief, seeds don’t need the sun to germinate. They just need warm temperatures for warm soil. The average temperature it takes for most seeds to germinate is around 60°-70°F. This means you can do your seed starting indoors because they like the same temperature that’s on your thermostat. However, there are some exceptions so make sure and read your seed’s packet label. You may consider placing a warming matt underneath your seedlings for faster and more consistent germination growth.

Plants teach Patience.

It is important to be aware of the amount of time it takes for your seed to germinate. Cabbage for example, germinates in about three to four days. Celery seeds on the other hand, take around 2-3 weeks before you’ll start seeing a sprout. So do your research and in some cases, practice your patience. In general, your cool weather crops will germinate sooner than warm weather crops. This is because cool weather crops don’t need the soil as warm to poke their baby leaves or cotyledons out.

Water, Water, Water

Keep the soil moist at all times. The Seed Starting recipe down below allows for maximum amount of moisture in the mix. We are talking around 75% moisture. You should be able to roll a ball with your seed starting mix and have it remained intact. A good way to lock in moisture for your seeds is to place a plastic cover or plastic wrap over your seedlings that allow for condensation to build up and help retain water.

You Were Warned…

Get your grubby fingers out of the soil! A common mistake that people have with seed starting is that they sow the seeds too deep into the soil. As a rule of thumb, green thumb that is, a seed should be planted no more than twice it’s size deep. Using the tip of a pencil can ensure that you don’t dig too deep. Again, read your seed labels they’ll give you the correct depth.

Finally, the Seed Starting Recipe!

fullsizerender-2

This mix is measured in ratios. Perhaps that means using a spade, shovel, or bucket for your proportions. (It’s as easy as 1, 2, 2, 3!)

  • 1 Part: Soil

It is important to include soil because this is what the seeds will be living in when we transplant them outdoors. This allows for an easier transition for them.

  • 2 Parts: Compost

This is where the majority of the nutrients for the plant comes in.

  • 2 Parts: Sand

Our seedlings need lots of air and sand is great at aerating soil. Sand also allows for easy drainage and we want water to flow down to the roots.

  • 3 Parts: Peat Moss

(No this is not the name of a famous gardener.) Peat Moss, also known as Sphagnum comes from the bottom of bogs. It is dead organic material particularly moss, that is formed in anaerobic conditions, or conditions with no oxygen. Peat moss holds our seed starting mix together and allows us to keep in high levels of moisture for our little guys.

Thanks for reading. And as always, happy planting!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: