5 Tips on Detoxing Your Landscape, as featured in Natural Nutmeg

It’s always fun to partner with local publications that support wellness of the mind, body and spirit. We believe the soil is a key ingredient for wellness. In the current issue of Natural Nutmeg magazine, Harvest presents 5 tips to Detox Your Landscape which include:

  1. Get on a path. No really, it’s not just a metaphor.
  2. Lay down a magical layer of mulch.
  3. Amend your soil with compost.
  4. Tidy up your space.
  5. Shelve the chemicals.

Focused on the Connecticut market, the entire March 2018 issue of Natural Nutmeg serves up lots of detox tips; our Landscape Detox article is on pp. 22-23.

How Do I Choose the Right Mulch for My Landscape?

a fine mulchWhy add mulch?

Mulch is a landscaper’s best friend because it:

  • reduces weeds;
  • improves moisture retention;
  • maintains soil temperatures; and
  • enhances the beauty of landscapes.

Mulch is basically a magic carpet for your landscape.

How do you choose the right mulch for your landscape?

Using quality mulch in your garden is one of the easiest ways to transform your landscape. Mulch comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors. When choosing a mulch there are a few factors to consider – species of wood, source, size, and color – to identify a mulch that will best fit your needs. Since the selection process can be tricky we summarized our most popular mulches with the following descriptions.


This mulch has a pleasant cedar smell that lasts a fair amount of time after spreading. Cedar is also great for repelling insects. Cedar mulch has a very slow decay process so it won’t break down quickly. Also, cedar mulch is the most resistant to artillery fungus.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK:  Canadian Cedar is available at our Harvest New England locations in Connecticut.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Cedar Mulch Blend (2-cubic-foot bags) by Garden Pro® is available in stores in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.


This is a recycled mulch usually made from hardwood logs and bark. These types of mulches break down quickly and add nutrients to the soil. Natural colorants make this mulch stand out.


This mulch has a naturally rich dark color with a pleasant pine scent. Pine mulch is a slow decomposer and is often over looked. This mulch has great longevity and is relatively inexpensive!

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Pine Blend is one of our most popular mulches, available in New England (Connecticut). Pine Fines are an exceptional soil conditioner for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, hollies and magnolias – available in the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, DC, Virginia).
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: We offer a variety of Pine- based mulches including Pine Bark Mulch in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.


This mulch has strong reddish and orange tones which add rich color to landscapes. Hemlock mulch is very aromatic. Just like cedar and pine mulch, hemlock mulches decomposes slowly so it is long lasting. Hemlock has a natural reddish look.

  • AVAILABLE IN BULK: Hemlock Mulch is available in at our Harvest New England locations.
  • AVAILABLE IN BAGS: Hemlock Mulch Blend is available in two-cubic-foot bags in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.a course mulch

Where can I find mulch from Harvest?

Great question! In addition to the mulches listed above, we offer a variety of mulch (and soil) products throughout North America. Find a convenient location near you:

Other Common Mulch-Related Topics:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted as “Choosing a Mulch: Practical Beauty” in March 2014; it has been re-posted with permission by the author, Shelley Sales, with updated content, availability, links and video.

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 bulbs to bloom – snowdrops and crocuses, and then daffodils and tulips – signal a turn of the season and gently usher us into longer days of sunshine.

Like the “pop” of a meat thermometer signaling the readiness of a cooked bird, the “pop” of bulbs signal warmer soil temperatures. When cooking meat, you open the oven and get greeted with a blast of warm air. When admiring bulbs, one nods at the splash of color, turns towards the sky and says, “Welcome, spring. Warmer temperatures, here we come.”

Related links:


What is your signal that springtime is here?

How and Why to Grow Peas

We love peas. Let us count the ways.

1. You can start early.

If you’re itching to get into the garden, you can typically start peas in the ground up to 5-6 weeks before the last frost date.  They’ll germinate in 40-degree F soil, though slowly.  They’ll germinate more quickly in 50-to 60-degree F soil.

TIP: Sow in 1-ich-deep furrows, with seeds approximately 1 to two inches apart from each other.


2. They grow so fast.

Like, ridiculously fast. Ideally, the soil should be moist like a damp sponge that’s been wrung out, and rich in organic content from a topdressing of compost.

TIP: Choose a site with full sun and good air circulation. Plant in early spring or late summer so plants can grow while the weather is cool.

3. They are so pretty! And show pollination and maturity in real-time, almost.

Peas are a great teacher of how flowers become food in food-bearing plants: given their quick growth cycle to maturity, you can almost see the flower becoming the pea pod.

TIP: Even if you eat the all of the peas one day, the next day the flowers from the day before will have become the new peas.

4. Their tendrils are the stuff of fairy tale legend.

Watch how peas reach out and hold on to grow higher.  They can be a conversation gateway to talking about support, and how we all sometimes need a prop.

TIP: Install a trellis or other supports, such as string or twine, at planting time.

5. They’re easy, tasty, nutritious snacking!

How empowering for a little (and big) person to get to eat as much as they want of a snack. Compared to other stuff in the garden – greens, carrots, strawberries, etc – peas are typically already clean and ready-to-eat right off the vine.  They’re all yummy: from old-fashioned shelling types or snap peas which you eat pod and all.


  • Shelling Peas: Also called English and green peas, they have inedible pods. Pick before the pods turn yellow.
  • Snow Peas: Also called sugar or Chinese peas, they should be picked when the pods are large and flat, but before the peas inside have begun to swell.
  • Snap Peas: A cross between shelling and snow peas. They bear crisp pods and swet peas, all edible. They’re the sweetest when the peas inside the pods are round and full.
  • Dry Peas: Left in the field until the pods are brown, then shelled, dried and stored.

TIP: Get a variety that works well in your climate.

6. Peas grow in so many different support structures.

A tunnel.

An artistic little house or fort for kiddos.

A spiral.

Your pea support structure can add style and whimsy in any garden space.

7.  The “peas” homonym – peace –  sure does make the world seem brighter.

Peas out.  Visualize whirled peas. Peas, love and happiness, man.  Enjoy your peas. You can go peas-fully.

What’s your favorite pea crop to grow?  When do you plant in your climate? And do you have a favorite kind of trellis or support structure?  And do tell: do you “peas out”?

Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) – 2018

We had a great time this year connecting with partners and customers interested in our soils, mulches and specialty blends in the Mid-Atlantic market, as well as our premium Harvest Organics bagged products.

Psss — Do you know?  Our soil and mulch display booth is made of all east coast woods.  Pretty groovy.


Thanks so much to MANTS for yet again hosting an incredible event. If you liked these photos, check out our booth from MANTS 2017

How To Grow Your Own Clean Air

Wildfires. Mudslides. Frigid temperatures. Blazing heat. Whatever is keeping you indoors this season, it’s nice to know you can make your lungs happier by home-growing some clean air.

Which Plants Should I Use to Grow Clean Air?

All plants help: in general all green leafy plants produces O2, or oxygen. Lots of people are under the impression that plants “inhale” carbon dioxide and then “exhale” oxygen.  Thanks to this clever article we learn that the oxygen plants exhale comes from H2O, or water.

But enough about the science, let’s get to the action. We were inspired by this TED talk by Mr. Kamal Meattle who, through office plants, created measurably cleaner air using the following plants:

  1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
  2. Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria triasciata)
  3. Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)



How Many Plants Do I Need?

In Mr. Kamal Meattle’s office space, they have over 1,200 plants for 300 building occupants. That might be a bit much for your space. Use what works for you. Try starting out with one of each.  If you like them, you can always propagate a new plant from the existing ones by plucking off a section and putting it in a new pot. Plants are amazing like that.

What do I need to do to care for my plant?

The following three basic ingredients go into growing plants (except for the epiphyte class of plants which grow in air).

  1. Water. Water your plants regularly. For some, “regularly” means once each week. For others, “regularly” means twice each month, say, on the 1st and 15th of every month. Figure out what works for you to remember. Water until the soil is moist and be sure there is a catcher underneath the plant to catch the extra water that runs through. Your soil should never be soggy; aim for a happy medium the consistency of a damp sponge.
  2. Light. Pay attention to light. These plants are hearty: they can sit in full sun as well as dark corners, and everything inbetween. Put your plant where it makes sense for your space and see how it does.
  3. Soil. Plants like good soil. We of course recommend Harvest’s Organic Potting Mix because it offers a nice blend of nutrients and water holding capacity.

PRO TIP: when swapping containers don’t increase the size of the pot drastically; in general aim for 1-2” intervals of increases in pots. So, for example, if you have a 6″ pot, don’t jump all the way up to a 12″ pot; instead go to a 8″ pot.

In addition to growing your own clean air, houseplants also create a sense of nature. They add a peaceful element to any space. Plants make a great gift — for the mind and body.

What is your favorite type of plant for your home or office?

Fall: A great time for compost. Try leaves.

Fall is possibly the best time of year to APPLY compost to your landscape: it’ll have a few months to settle in and nourish the soil with all of its magical properties.

Fall is also possibly the best time of year to try out MAKING compost because very easy materials to compost – leaves – are abundantly available.

In mid-October, I gave a lecture to a garden club in New Jersey – an ideal venue given its status as “The Garden State” – and encouraged the audience to get further along on the compost learning curve.

A 3-Step Guide to Composting in Your Backyard

To help nudge the group we created a simple quick-start guide to backyard composting. On the front, it provided a simple directions in three steps to help get momentum: 

  1. Choose a compost container style
  2. Collect materials
  3. Manage the compost (as much as you want)

Download the simple guide to backyard composting.

The response was fantastic: different conversations indicated shifts. For example, after the lecture a group of four women in line for lunch said, “We were just talking about where we’re going to put our bins at our homes. It has to be far enough away from the back door to fit into the landscape, but close enough so that we actually use it.” Another member of the audience emailed, “You’ve successfully nudged me to do more composting. I’m collecting leaves this weekend for my new bin.”

Indeed, leaves are the perfect training wheels for a novice composter: You put them into your bin and poof! Three- to six- months later you have lovely leaf litter: a fluffy, nutrient-rich mulch that breaks down into the soil beautifully.

The audience posed a few questions about what materials were appropriate for composting. Eggshells? Lobster shells? Banana peels? Avocado pits? In general, you want to add organic materials such peels and floral trimmings. At Harvest, we put together a quick video to illustrate:

At the end of the day, it’s your compost party: the composition of your decomposition is entirely up to you. Want more details? Check out this awesome composting guide.

*NOTE: A similar version of this story has been cross-posted on our sister site, harvestorganics.com

Supplying Soil for Stormwater Management Success

When people think of stormwater management, they might immediately jump to thinking about the health of rivers and streams. But a key ingredient in improving water quality that many people often overlook is soil.

Harvest routinely provides custom soils blended for bioretention and rain gardens. We were especially honored to provide the soil for three stormwater management containers – two at-grade precast concrete bio-retention planters and one above grade planter, all supplied by Olcastle Precast-Chesapeake Region – at the U.S. Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, Maryland.

Specially formulated soil, rich in organic matter, will help achieve two ideal outcomes:

  1. It will slow the flow. Ideally water that falls to the earth has a chance to get absorbed by the earth and return to the groundwater table, as opposed to getting whisked away by sewers and drains.
  2. It will filter out pollutants. Ideally water that reaches surrounding lakes, streams and bodies of water does not have debris or pollutants. Healthy soil can act as a natural filter for water.

These ingredients – thoughtful engineering and healthy soil – will help make the world greener and the water cleaner.  Contact us today for your bioretention/stormwater/rain garden/bioswale/soil needs.

Community Service: A Spotlight on New England

We wanted to shine a spotlight on a few of our recent community service activities in New England.

Soggily Supporting Earth Day

On a soggy April day, our corporate office team helped spread compost and plant seeds at a local farm in Waltham, Massachusetts. Fun (and wet socks) was had by all.

Donating Compost, Changing Lives

Our customer service team at Harvest New England always goes the extra mile when it comes to delivering great products. More than that, we want the world to be a better place. Check out some of these awesome, local non-profits that we’ve supported for many years.

Herbs of Vision

A self-described “start-up social enterprise” called Herbs of Vision reached out for compost. Here’s what happened next, as described by Sharon in Harvest’s customer department:

“In January, I received a phone call for a compost order. When I discovered the compost was going to an Alternative School in Hartford, I offered it as a  donation. Yovel Badash explained who the students were and how they ended up at the program. This program is basically the very last option for these kids, the choices are slim, jail or there. Long story short, I decided to continue the relationship and basically offered the manpower and resources to help them expand the gardens. This year they will add outdoor gardens to grow the vegetables. We met with them, toured the school, spoke with the Principal and will send a donation next week. The students will be responsible for all the planning, layout, and all the hard work that goes in to creating them.”

Learn more about this neat Herbs of Vision program through Hartford Schools or through the Herbs of Vision Kickstarter campaign.

Growing Great Schools

This program – Growing Great Schools – is operated in West Hartford, Connecticut, and provides cooking classes for ages 5-11 that connect food, heath and the environment. Harvest New England has delivered soil to them for the last 10+ years, before they were even a non-profit.

New Britain Roots

Yet another awesome program, New Britain Roots makes healthy food accessible and affordable to low-income neighbors. Harvest New England has been donating soil for about 4 years, watching them grow and have an even greater impact in the community through partnerships with Connecticut farmers, food artisans and healthy food advocates.

Auer Farm

We were honored to provide Auer Farm with soil. They have a 4-H Education Center that connects people, agriculture, and the environment through education and recreation. Our relationship with their team goes back 18+ years. Our customer service team reports:

“They love our product and customer service so much that we were asked to supply the Hartford Court House with compost. They had the inmates build garden beds to grow food and donated it to the shelters.”

Haddam Garden Club

Local garden clubs such as the Haddam Garden Club benefit from our top quality soil products as well. Just in from a leader of a group:

“Well, we dodged the rain today while the Haddam Garden Club did our civic garden projects.  The compost you donated was a big hit – everyone commented how wonderful it was to work with! We probably used ¾ of the pile so far, and there are still a few small gardens to do. I helped out at the Library gardens where we expanded the butterfly garden, and amended the front garden; and also at the transfer station where we are gradually filling in the “island” with plantings.  I’ve enclosed a few photos of our work parties at these two locations.  There were many others working at the rest of the gardens around town…I just couldn’t get to all of them.” ~KC

It is so wonderful to hear the stories of how our soil improves spaces, and provides smiles!

Annie Fisher Montessori

The six-and-a-half acre campus at Annie Fisher Montessori in the northwest part of Hartford Connecticut provides fertile ground for students. It’s another excellent school program that keeps growing.

Seeds of Change

We’re a partner with Seeds of Change, a “seed to plate” organic company.

Raising the (Legal) Bar

Some of our community service comes in a different flavor than soils and mulches and recycling. For example, the Massachusetts Bar Association recently honored our Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Christopher Mirick, for his pro bono work with underserved communities seeking due wages and proper housing. We are so proud of you, Chris. Keep up the great work in and out of the office!

Make Your Bed!

Mothers (and fathers) around the world are known for saying, “Make your bed!” This time of year, especially in honor of Mother’s and Father’s Day, we like to interpret that statement as a request to make a raised bed. Here’s an update on that topic with some support and inspiration.

First, for support, common questions include:

Second, for inspiration, here’s a few styles of raised beds we’ve recently seen around town.


Long, tall beds make for easier weeding. And check out that thick mulch: keeps everything nice and tidy around the beds.

Strawberries! Yum.

Strawberries along the perimeter, plus asparagus (a perennial as well) in the inside. This is a bed that will be a springtime favorite for years to come.

Who says a raised bed needs to have boards around it? These earthy mounds achieve the same goal, with tidy paths in-between each bed.

We support healthy soil!


What are you growing in your raised bed this year?