How Bulbs are Like Pop Up Meat Thermometers for Spring

There you are, strolling down a sidewalk or park path, when you happen to notice that things are pushing up at your feet. No, not dogs. Rather, little sprigs of green. They’re shooting up and making way for beautiful bulbs that “turn on” as natural bulbs tend to do: with blooms of beauty. White, purple, yellow, red: the earliest ones – snowdrops and crocuses, then daffodils and tulips – signal a turn of season and gently usher us into warmer temperatures and longer days.

Like the “pop” of a meat thermometer signaling the readiness of a cooked bird*, I see the “pop” of a bulb as a signal of warmer soil temperatures. With meat, you open the oven and get greeted with a blast of warm air. With bulbs, you can nod at the color, turn your head towards the sun and say, “Welcome, spring.”

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*As remembered from childhood.

Purple is the New Green: How Harvest’s 30 Cubic Yard Roll Off Containers Help Landscapers Recycle Green Waste

Purple 30 Yard Roll CanDriving around the Washington-Baltimore Metro Area, you may see gigantic purple dumpsters. Here’s the scoop.

What are these purple dumpsters?

The purple beauties are 30-cubic-yard roll-off containers, also known as dumpsters or cans. Harvest manages approximately 40 containers through year-long lease agreements providing ‘switch-out service’ described below and one time ‘wait to load’ service for tight spaces.

Who uses them?

Landscaping and golf course customers primarily use them to store yard trimmings, leaves, brush, grass, and any other vegetation. We will leave an empty container in the customer’s shop yard then when it is full they call to have a switch-out done. We then bring another empty container, drop it alongside the full container, and haul back the full container of green waste to be brought back to our Woodbine yard for further processing into compost and high quality organic products.

Why use purple roll off cans?

In short, these purple roll-off containers represent tremendous savings to customers that generate green waste.

  • Saves time. Landscapers go out to a job and come back to their yard with a truckload of yard trimmings and debris. Instead of going to the landfill they can just unload into the purple can, easy peasy. Same with golf courses.
  • Saves fuel. Instead of driving all the way to the landfill, they have their collection and storage right on site.
  • Saves labor. Harvest provides a convenient “switch-out service” meaning whenever the container is full, they call and we come and switch it out with an empty container. In busy seasons, some customers fill up their container in just 2 days. Instead of sending a crew to deal with the trimmings, they call Harvest up to take it away.
  • Saves space. These bins and service are perfect for clearing divisions on smaller or limited space projects where a walking-floor tractor trailer would be impractical or unnecessary.
  • Saves the planet. We allow landscapers to easily divert yard trimmings from landfills. Not only does this reduce greenhouse gases associated with organic waste in landfills, but we also further process the greenwaste into mulches and compost and organic products. Note: behind the container is our top quality aged double shredded hardwood mulch.

Contact us today for a roll-off can service for green waste in the Metro-DC-Baltimore Region

  • CALL: 410-795-7666
  • VISIT: Harvest Mid Atlantic’s Webpage

Flower Power: 3 Tips to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, wedding season, or simply a lovely bouquet to brighten up a space, here are our favorite, fast and easy tips for how to make cut flowers last longer.

  1. GET EDGEY: Before placing the flowers into water, cut the stems at an angle instead of directly across. The increased surface area will allow more uptake of water and nutrients.

cut flower stems at an angle

 

  1. THE SOLUTION IS PART OF THE SOLUTION: Add the little packet of nutrients that come with most bouquets (it’s basically sugar). NOTE: If you don’t have a little packet that came with your cut flowers – perhaps you picked your own bouquet – you can make your own. Mix into the vase water:
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (to reduce bacteria growth in the water)
    • 2 tablespoons sugar (to provide energy to the cut flowers)
  1. HIT REFRESH. Change the water (with fresh vinegar and sugar, if possible, and freshly cut stems) every few days.

OTHER IDEAS: Some say to add a copper penny and a cube of sugar to the vase water; that the copper in pennies is thought to act like an acidifier, which prevents the growth of bacteria. Other suggestions from Readers’ Digest include adding a few drops of vodka plus a teaspoon of sugar. They also tried aspirin!  What do you find works best to keep your flowers in tip top shape?

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Photos from US Composting Council’s “Demo Days” in Los Angeles

The US Composting Council hosted its 25th annual conference in Los Angeles.  Harvest was a proud sponsor of the conference, and provided safety gear for the legendary “Demo Days” event at the City of Lopez Canyon Compost Facility. Ops attendees included Ted C., Chris F., Brent B., and Stewart M. Check out the beautiful scene in the following photos (photos thanks to Ted):

USCC 2017 - looking over windrows USCC 2017 - scarab turning and steam USCC 2017 - screeners USCC 2017 - spreading USCC 2017 - windrow close up USCC 2017 - windrow cover and steam USCC 2017 - windrow turning USCC 2017 - windrows and hils in distance USCC 2017 - windrows wtih scarab USCC 2017 - windrows USCC 2017 in front of Komtech USCC 2017

 

4 Things to Know About Groundhog Day

groundhog. spring is coming!Groundhog Day is celebrated February 2.  Here’s what you need to know:

    1. The lore: If it’s cloudy, spring will come early. If it’s sunny you may be psyched in the moment for sunshine, but spring will come (again, this is the lore) later.
    2. Cloudy or shiny, the first day of spring is March 20, 2017 (thanks, Farmer’s Almanac).
    3. The groundhog is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels (thanks, Wikipedia).
    4. The 1993 film, Groundhog Day, stars Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Itching to get out into the garden? Wait! Mucking around in the mud can do more damage than good. Take a moment and read acclaimed “how to and woo woo” garden expert Margaret Roach’s February garden chores. It’s a treat.

The real thing to watch this time of year is DAYLIGHT changes.  At https://www.timeanddate.com/ you can track how much daylight your part of the earth gets each day of the year.  So, for example, Harvest’s headquarters in Boston gains a significant amount of daylight comparing the first of January and the first of April:

  • January 1st: 9 hours 9 minutes of daylight
  • February 1st: 10 hours 1 minute of daylight
  • March 1st: 11 hours 15 minutes of daylight
  • April 1st: 12 hours 44 minutes (!) of daylight

Value every minute.

The 10-Minute Tomato Cage Holiday Tree

Imagine this: It’s early December. You want to do some decorating to brighten up the dark days but you don’t have a ton of time. You want “bright lights, low cost, low hassle” as your decorating mantra. Introducing the “10-Minute Tomato Cage Holiday Tree”.

BENEFITS OF A TOMATO CAGE TREE:

  • EASY TO MAINTAIN: No watering required
  • EASY TO CLEAN: No shedding of pine needles
  • EASY TO MOVE: Very lightweight!
  • USE EVERYWHERE: Indoor/outdoor compatible
  • DRESS UP/DRESS DOWN: Add as many (or as few) additions as you see fit for your space.
  • GARDEN INSPIRATION DURING ALL SEASONS: In addition to using a tomato cage, which is typically at its peak in the summer, one variation we saw was to hang seed packets as “ornaments”!

STEPS TO BUID A TOMATO CAGE TREE

Step 1: Turn a tomato cage (you probably have some in your garage) upside down.

Step 2: Wrap some lights around said tomato cage.

Step 3: Add a bow at the top to bring the “legs” of the tomato cage together.

Step 4: Add any additional bells or whistles (or cards or garland) to make it fit your space and style!

Upside down tomato cages

tomato-cage-with-lights-and-a-bow

TOMATO CAGE TREE INSPIRATION

Inspiration from New England Design and Construction:

Inspiration from Allen Smith, who makes a design that includes home-made birdseed ornaments (pine cones smeared with peanut butter, then dipped in bird seed):

 

Inspiration from Pinterest, with lots of variation on a Christmas Tomato Cage board including a “tree” used to hold cards.

 

 

Get More Blooms

Do you know how to deadhead flowers?  It’s easy: Once a flower is past its peak, snip off the head. The plant will then be able to put its energy into new growth.  Even large flowers, such as sunflowers, will benefit from deadheading. Here’s a 1-2-3-4 illustration:

sunflower1-01

sunflower2-01

sunflower3-01

sunflower4-01

3 Easy Tricks to Love Your Lawn Naturally

Everyone likes a lush, green lawn that is safe for people, pets and children to lounge and play. Here’s a video with a few easy tips for you to love your lawn naturally.

Natural Lawn Care, So Pets and Children (and You!) Can Play Safely

As the video shows, there are three (3) easy things you can do to keep your lawn lush, naturally.

3 easy tricks to love your lawn naturallyTRICK #1: Trim the Top

Set your lawnmower blades on the highest setting. Also, aim to only cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time; otherwise the grass gets stressed.

TECHNICAL CORNER
Different grass species actually have preferred lengths. For example, cool season grasses (Fescues, Kentucky bluegrass) range from 1-4” high. Warm season grasses (St Augustine, Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia) vary from 0.75-3” high. Learn more about ideal heights to mow grass.

TRICK #2: Grasscycle!

Let the clippings land and return to the soil. Those tiny little bits can actually help nourish the soil: they typically break down within one to two weeks, and provide 15 to 20% or more of a lawn’s yearly nitrogen requirements. Learn more about grasscycling.

TRICK #3: Support Your Soil

Every fall and spring, spread a ¼” layer of compost or lawn soil. This layer – called a topdressing – helps support the soil structure, promotes good drainage, and stimulates microbial activity (that’s a good thing).

 A Few Other Tips for Natural Lawn Care

First, remember the four key components of healthy soil composition:

  • Mineral Soil (~45%)
  • Organic Matter (~5%)
  • Water (~25%)
  • Air (~25%)

Next, check out this case study of the lush soccer fields in Haddam, Connecticut – impressive root structure, all from topdressing with compost!

Finally, use these easy tips to keep your lawn happy:

watering your lawnWATERING YOUR LAWN: Use the Tuna Can Trick

If you’re going to water your lawn (or, ahem, frolic in a sprinkler), use a tuna fish can to roughly gauge how much water has fallen: place a tuna can on the grass when you turn on the sprinkler(s), and turn off the sprinkler(s) when the tuna can is full.

A few other tips around watering:

  • GO FOR DEEP, LESS OFTEN: Try to water well once per week rather than a few shallow sprinkles throughout the week. Then let the grass dry out completely over the week until you water deeply again. The roots will actually get more sturdy and robust during the dry period by searching for water compared to if you give them a few light sprinkles.
  • WATER IN THE MORNING OR EVENING: You’ll lose less water to evaporation.

screwdriver test for lawnsAERATING YOUR LAWN: Use the Screwdriver Trick to Test

If you’re curious about whether or not your lawn needs aeration, try the screwdriver trick: Wait until the soil is relatively dry – but not completely dry and hard – and test it with a screwdriver. If you can depress the screwdriver an inch or two easily, the soil probably has sufficient aeration. If it takes some bearing down, your lawn could probably use some “aerifying”. Learn more about how to aeate your lawn.

FINAL THOUGHTS: