If you carrot all about soil health, these puns walnut let you down

Have you been wining about low yields? Citrus down on that chair and let me squash your problems.

If you carrot all about soil health, lettuce almond your soil by raisin the bar for healthy soil.

So water your waiting for?

You butternut say it’s too expensive, because with the cashew make back on your increased yields, you can berry those costs in the dirt.

Like a bee puts nectarine in its hive, compost put nutrients directly in your soil. If your barley hanging in there with these puns, compost your comments on our website.

We walnut let you down.

~Created by Adam Pescatore

What’s the return on investment (ROI) for mulch?

It’s tax season. It’s also the time of year we refer to as “mulch madness.” These two seemingly unrelated events dovetail into some earthy calculations.

The query: What’s the return on investment (ROI) for mulch?

We know, inherently, that mulch is “good”: it reduces weeds, maintains soil temperatures, retains moisture, and enhances the soil. But what is its value?

Well calculations will vary depending on a range of factors (e.g. amount of time to initially prune, cost of mulch, time it takes to apply it, appreciation for beauty, seasonal and product variation and how it interacts with the landscape, etc). But let’s toss those quibbles aside, make some assumptions, and try to provide some shape around this notion.

First, let’s look at the scope of the case study in the following video of a “Tree Pedicure”:

It took about 20 minutes to do a tune up on this tree: trimming suckers, removing vegetation to the drip line, and adding a 3” layer of mulch spread evenly away from the trunk. This includes pulling out supplies and tools and getting organized, and putting away tools.

Next, let’s refresh our memories on how to calculate return on investment, or ROI. In short it’s the (gains – investment costs) / (investment costs). Written out, it’s the gains minus the investment costs, divided by the investment costs.

So, for example, if I sold orange juice for $8 (my gains) and it cost me $4 to make it (my investment costs), my ROI would be ($8-$4 / $4) = 1, or a 100% ROI.

Finally, let’s dive in and look at this case of applying mulch. Using really broad and fast brushstrokes, here are the background metrics for the calculations.

Investment Costs:

  • Time (20 minutes, with time valued at $60/hr to make math easy): $20
  • Materials (2 bags of mulch, with a very generous budget): $10
  • TOTAL INVESTMENT COSTS: $30

Gains:

  • Time (since the mulch will repress weeds, one gains back the time not needed to weed throughout spring and summer, estimating 5 minutes per month for the next six months: $30
  • Look (how much one would pay to look out over a pretty landscape; say $0.10 per day for six months): $18
  • Nutrients added to soil slowly over time (yikes. With no idea how to calculate this. Let’s give it a small value): $2
  • TOTAL INVESTMENT GAINS: $50

So the ROI on this particular project is…drum roll please… [($50-$30)/$30] = 66%.

A 66% ROI is stunning.

This example is, of course, an example. It’s an illustration. It’s a way to think about the time and money that you could spend this spring tuning up your landscape and applying mulch – while weeds are still small! – and how much gain, or return, you could experience from that investment.

Have tips on how you would tweak these calculations?  Please share!

Want to learn more? Related articles include:

The Soil-Health Connection

Have you noticed the increased awareness around the interlocking connections between soil, nature, and wellness?  We have.  While doctors don’t yet prescribe bags of soil or mulch – take two and call me in the morning! – communities are increasingly recognizing that nature provides boundless benefits.  Here are a few examples:

  • Soil Health ConnectionSOIL HAS SURPRISING HEALING PROPERTIES:
    Healthy soil has lots of micro- and macro-bacteria, and interacting with that dynamic environment develops your own biosphere. Read about how dirt heals us.
  • GARDENING IS EXERCISE!
    Bending, scooping, weeding and planting burns 200-400 calories per hour.
  • FRESH AIR IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH.
    Seriously: Doctors are now prescribing visits to parks.  Skip the visit to the doctor and go straight to your backyard, park, or playground.
  • NATURE CAN MAKE YOU MORE SUCCESSFUL:
    Noticing your surroundings makes you more present, more mindful, and arguably more successful. Take a moment to notice your surroundings and you’ll get better at staying calm and focused.
  • NATURE MAKES US HAPPY.
    The author of Nature Fix spent three years researching how nature impacts our brains.

Have you noticed a connection between how much time you spend in nature and your level of wellness?

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.”

Related links:

*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?

Related Blog Posts:

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.