Recently Harvest RGI – our operations that serve the mid-atlantic region including Baltimore / Washington / Maryland / Northern Virginia corridor – was accepted to the Maryland Green Registry. By meeting a set of criteria we have joined an elite set of businesses that meet standards for the following categories:
- Environmentally Preferable Products and Services
- Energy Efficiency
- Efficient Business Travel
- Fleet Vehicles
- Water Conservation
- Stormwater Management and Site Design
Congrats!! Interested in supporting a sustainable business while meeting your needs for green waste recycling or mulches, compost and soil blend products? Contact Harvest RGI in Woodbine MD today.
With the Grey to Green Conference coming up (June 1-2, 2015 in Montreal), all eyes will be on green infrastructure.
In early April we took a cruise down the High Line in Manhattan. It’s a unique experience: it’s an abandoned elevated rail platform that’s been renovated into a narrow walking park. You get to experience the Big Apple two stories up from the streets, noise, traffic, and hustle and bustle.
Some people get drawn into the unique architecture (for example, they revived the train aesthetic and the park has glimpses of whimsical industrial-chic old rail ties, with lounge chairs overlooking the Hudson, and angular benches) and cool concrete forms. We were drawn in by the vegetation: The High Line is basically a gigantic green roof.
A Quick Green Roof 101 Tutorial
Growth media for green roof projects require a well-balanced blend to support vegetation. There are two flavors of green roofs:
- Extensive: Extensive green roof systems have shallow profiles, with typically 3-4 inches of growth media. It’s primarily mineral and organics (no soil involved) made up of expanded shale and compost.
- Intensive: Intensive green roof systems have a deeper profile (6”) and can support a much broader plant palette including perennials, shrubs and trees.
A few crocuses were blooming (we loved the purple!) and a few trees were beginning to bud.
Beyond the Beauty: Why Soil Infrastructure Impacts Water Quality
A few states south, the Cheseapeake Bay Foundation has been fighting for years to curb pollution. Greenwire reporter Tiffany Stecker submitted on April 7, “Under a 2010 legal settlement between the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation and EPA, watershed states must adhere to a “pollution diet” and implement plans to meet individual nutrient-reduction goals by 2025. The states – Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia – and D.C. are required to submit reports on these efforts to EPA. The analysis released yesterday says the states collectively have reached 21 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 71 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 25 percent of the sediment reductions toward the 2025 goals.”
What does this mean? In laymen’s terms: In the past, we screwed up our waterways. Currently, we’re taking steps to reduce pollution by A) modifying our land applications and B) re-designing our built infrastructure via bioswales and green roofs (and innovative parks like the High Line) to absorb rain water during storm events. Looking ahead, we still have work to do from rooftop to runoff.
We checked in with our specialty soils guru, Dave L on how progress in the Chesapeake Bay intersects our work on land. He says,
“Bioretention facilities as well as green roof applications contribute to the amount of water introduced into the stormwater system and improve the quality of water output into this system. Overall these combined facilities improve the quality of outflow through filtration with properly blended soils and reduce the quantity of outflow by retaining water in their respective systems for plant uptake.”
Harvest Power has a lot of momentum in our specialty soils department that mixes up soils to specification – for green roofs, stormwater management, bioretention (including specs that meet Montgomery County Blends and MDE Table B.4.1 requirement), and beyond.
Want to learn more? Drop us a line.
It is ideal to apply a 2”-to-3” layer of mulch around a tree that extends out to its drip line. This layer of mulch does a few things including:
- Prevents weeds
- Retains moisture
- Maintains consistent soil temperatures
- Provides a nice buffer between equipment (mowers, weed wackers, etc) and tree trunks
- Gives a finished look to the landscape
However, take care not to cover the base of the tree’s trunk and its root flare with mulch. The sapling in this photo was not mulched properly. It was “volcano mulched,” meaning the mulch was piled in a volcano shape right up to the bark of the trunk. If you pile mulch against the trunk, it will hold moisture there and may lead to root rot. It can also lead to the tree sending up secondary roots, which are weaker roots that will likely get zapped by the sun, frozen by frost, or strangle the tree. Not good. If you want to meet someone who hates volcano mulching with a passion, meet Ken Druse, a guru of gardening who has tons of tips to help you flourish in your landscape.
Instead, mulch your trees starting a few inches out from the trunk out to the drip line or beyond, as far as an 8-foot diameter. The root system of the tree extends far beyond its drip line. In a forest, that entire system benefits from naturally-occurring mulch.
Also, if you have old mulch around your trees, it may need to be raked to ensure it’s not matted. Otherwise, if it’s thick and matted water and air may not be able to seep through to the tree’s root system. Mulch that’s matted can also become weed-ridden.
Organic mulches usually need to be replenished a few times a year to ensure the right depth of mulch (roughly 3 inches) protects and nourishes your trees.
Check it out: In this video these guys identify mulch volcanos that are suffocating/disabling the trees, and save a few by removing a primary layer of mulch, then airblasting away the extraneous mulch, trimming away the secondary root structure, and re-applying a 2” layer of mulch (not next to the trunk!) and out to the drip line.
BONUS: Need tips on how to plant your trees or shrubs?
Watch Videos of Your Favorite Mulches, Available in New England Connecticut – Delivery Too!
Sometimes the best part of gardening is dreaming and planning. For all of you getting geared up to transform your landscape, here’s a summary – with videos – of our most popular mulches offered by Harvest New England out of Connecticut sites in Farmington, Fairfield, Ellington and Wallingford.
Inspired? Contact us today for a quote.
“Feed your soil, not the plants,” is an expression often used by expert gardeners, as well as companies such as Harvest that have invested deeply into the management of organic materials. Our organization has built its foundation around the notion that the earth is better served by adding valuable organic matter back into garden soils and landscapes throughout North America, rather than having organics decompose in landfills surrounded by plastic and metal.
Every garden using organic matter in their gardens, whether it is a soil amendment product such as a Garden Soil or a natural mulch, is contributing to the betterment of your garden soil. The utter simplicity of how organic matter benefits garden soils is summed up in just a few very important horticultural concepts.
- Porosity Soils need to breath. There are literally billions of living microscopic friendly fungi and bacteria in your soil along with millions of beneficial insects. They thrive and consume organic matter when there is plenty of oxygen in the soil. Porosity opens up the soil and allows air to flow to the best friends a garden can have: the microbial environment.
- Moisture A balanced moisture content maintains healthy soils and the biology in the soil perform to their expectations. When the soil is terribly wet, the soil absorbs. When the soil is too dry, the soil particles hold moisture. Moisture consistency is best for the biology to thrive.
- Disease Suppression Our friends at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences articulate this point very well in their article on Organic Manuring and Soil Amendments:
In some instances, adding large amounts of organic materials to soil results in reduced populations of plant-parasitic nematodes and higher crop yields. The reduction in nematodes is thought to be caused, at least in part, by an increase in natural enemies of nematodes. In addition, the presence of decomposing organic materials in the soil apparently provides host plants with some tolerance to nematode attack.
In the end, the management of your soil is the most critical aspect of great gardens: it’s the foundation for success and enjoyment of your garden. When your soil is healthy the sheer enjoyment of being in a garden begins.
If you’re now inspired to improve your garden soil, here are our four simple tips to adding beneficial organic matter and texture to your soil:
- APPLY a 2-4” layer of soil amendment
- MIX to a 6-12” depth (this will also add porosity)
- SMOOTH with a rake
- PLANT seeds, seedlings, vegetables, herbs, flowers, or ornamentals.
Of course water thoroughly after planting, and ENJOY YOUR GARDEN!
Written by Gardening Expert Dave Devine