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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?

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

 

Making the Most of Rainwater: Commercial Applications

The Issue: Stormwater

Bioretention_DDOT_DDOEIn an increasingly paved world, stormwater management is the name of the game for municipalities and businesses looking to reduce costs, improve water quality, and enhance performance of their existing infrastructure.

Stormwater is the rush of water that occurs during a rain event, especially during the initial stages. Imagine rain falling in two different scenes: a gigantic forest and a paved city.  In a forest, streams and rivers rise, lower spots in the ground fill with puddles, and the earth gets saturated for a period of time as the water slowly percolates back down into the groundwater.  In a city, gutters gush, basements flood, highways get slick, and drainage systems discharge water into rivers and bodies of water. This article highlights a key tool – green infrastructure – that helps paved cities behave more like spongy forests, thereby decreasing the negative impacts of stormwater.

Green Infrastructure and Its Impacts

Bioretention_Montgomery_CountyGreen infrastructure refers to many tools and products – soils, filters, plants, pervious surfaces, green roofs, bioswales, and retention ponds to name a few – that help typically paved environments absorb more water. Green infrastructure serves two bioretention purposes:

  1. It slows down the first flush of runoff by increasing the amount of surface area where water can get absorbed.
  2. It increases the quality of runoff by intercepting pollutants closer to the source.

Key Components

When embarking on a stormwater management project, a few key factors can influence the outcome. Entire courses and forums are devoted to this topic.  A quick overview includes:

  • Size: Evaluate the catchment area. A gutter that gets disconnected from the downspouts will have different needs than a parking lot.
  • Medium: Identify the ideal characteristics of the planting medium.  If it’s a green roof, you’ll need a lightweight, engineered blend. For example, if it’s a backyard bioswale, you’ll likely want a mixture of soil with a high organic content (compost) and strong filtration properties (sand).
  • Plants: What conditions will the plants need to endure?  Conditions will vary depending on the depth of the depression and typical weather patterns.
  • Flow: Identify the slope and where the flow will need to be managed or controlled.

custom_designed_blendsAt Harvest, specifically Harvest RGI, we have qualified experts that help guide and shape soil selection.  Commercial contractors depend on us to meet their engineered soil specifications for erosion and stormwater control. Residential customers also get involved: several homeowners may work together in a community effort to manage rainwater on their properties, benefiting from the economies of scale associated with purchasing a 15-20-cubic yard truckload of soil together.

Four Tips for Fall Lawn Preparation

01_Grow_Longer_Grass

Allow Grass to Grow Longer

Letting the grass grow longer protects the grass from frost and makes it more resilient to lawn fungus and diseases. As you near the end of fall, raise the height of your mower by a notch or two. Otherwise you leave the lawn open to invasion by voles, mice and other critters.

Everyone always thinks of the springtime as the best time to work outside. While the spring boasts lengthening daylight hours and invigorating fresh breezes, the fall actually provides an ideal time to enhance the soil and provide excellent conditions that will carry over into the following year. These four simple tips mostly focus on the lawn.

02_Aerating_Soil

Aerate the Soil and Add a Top Dress of Compost

Aerating the soil allows for water drainage and prevents it from becoming waterlogged from snow. Lawns need oxygen almost as much as they need water. After aerating (or even if you don’t aerate), topdress the turf surface with a 1/4″ layer of compost. The compost will settle into the soil, adding nutrition and structure that will serve the grass roots well the following season.

03_Seed_Your_Lawn

Seed Your Lawn

Seeding your lawn encourages the growth of turf roots during fall and winter. Splurge on high-quality seed products to ensure the lawn will be able to stand up to drought, disease and pests.

04_Save_Fall_Leaves

Put Your Fall Leaves to Work

Instead of bagging and dragging fall leaves to the curb, use a small patch of your lawn to create a compost pile. If you have existing compost soil, mix it in with the leaves and turn all the materials well with a pitchfork. Alternatively, you can place leaves onto the top of the garden between plants and on top of bare soil as a natural layer of mulch that will moderate soil temperatures. Also remember that you can always mulch the leaves into the lawn to add organic matter to the soil. By doing this it will save you time and money from raking and bagging. You are simply recycling a natural resource and enriching your soil for free!

 

How Much Soil or Mulch Do I Need For My Landscaping Project?

Gardening season is in full swing as evidenced by all the requests for soil and mulch we receive from our Harvest Power website. As part of these requests we get a common question: How much do I need? We thought it would be helpful to walk through a few real-world examples.

First, some background info on calculations and products.

  • To know the root of calculations, there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard (3’ x 3’ x 3’), the common measurement for selling soil and mulch.
  • To get a sense of volumes, a full-size pickup truck holds about 2 cubic yards. A volkswagon beetle is roughly the same volume as 15 cubic yards.

Next, let’s walk through a few real-world examples and calculate how much material is needed for a project.

NOTE: If you want to skip learning the math, then head straight over to our landscape calculator.

raised beds tallEXAMPLE #1: We need soil for two 8′ x 4′ x 18″ raised beds. ~BD in Windsor Locks, CT

Okay, BD. Let’s figure this out. So first let’s pretend these two raised beds are stretched end-to-end. They would measure 16’ long x 4’ wide and 18” tall. Now let’s go through the steps

  • Convert all dimensions into feet (18” ÷ 12” = 1.5’)
  • Multiply length x width x height (16’ x 4’ x 1.5’ = 96 cubic feet)
  • Divide (96 ÷ 27 = 3.56 cubic yards)

Therefore, you’ll need about 3.5 cubic yards of garden blend for this project. We recommend rounding up to 4 cubic yards since you can almost always use more product top-dressing your lawn, the raised beds, or mixed into potting containers.

EXAMPLE #2: “How much mulch do I need to cover a 20’ x 30’ new garden with 3” of soil amendment?” ~NM in Surrey, BC

  1. Convert all dimensions from inches into feet. (3” ÷ 12” = .25 feet)
  2. Multiply the three dimensions together (length x width x height) to find the number of cubic feet needed. (20’ long x 30’ wide x 0.25’ high = 150 cubic feet)
  3. Divide the cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard (27) to find the number of cubic yards (150 ÷ 27 = 5.56 cubic yards)

There you go, NM: You will need about 5-6 cubic yards for your project!

EXAMPLE #3: I’m covering my front- and back- landscape with 2” of mulch. The area is about 20’ x 10’. I want to know how much product I’ll need in bags since I don’t have a pickup truck or trailer, and I think it might be easier to pick up a bunch of product in my car and then carry them throughout the property instead of dealing with a wheelbarrow. ~KH in Virginia

Okay, KH. Here we go, with a modified step to convert to bags.

  • Convert all dimensions into feet (2” ÷ 12” = 0.16’)
  • Multiply length x width x height (20’ x 10’ x 0.16’ = 33 cubic feet)
  • FOR CUBIC YARDS, we’d divide (33 ÷ 27 = 1.23 cubic yards). BUT INSTEAD we want to find out how many bags of mulch KH needs. So if she wants 1-cubic foot bags she’ll need to divide by 1 (33 ÷ 1 = 33 1-cubic foot bags). If she wants 2-cubic-foot bags she’ll need to divide by 2 (33 ÷ 2 = 17 2-cubic-foot bags).

how much do i need? landscape calculator screenshot of case studyVoila, our landscape calculator comes to the same conclusions (see screenshot).

Feeling inspired?

Hopefully this post helps you get a feel for dimensions and how much product you’ll need for your next landscaping project. We offer many quality soil and mulch products in bulk and bagged quantities. Or simply head on over to our contact page to request a quote.

Happy landscaping!

How Much Do I Need - For Pinterest

 

 

Great Gardens Have Great Soils

Four Components of Great Soil - Organic Content, Mineral Soil, Moisture, Air“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.

WHAT NEXT?

4 steps for improving your soilIf 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:

  1. APPLY a 2-4” layer of soil amendment
  2. MIX to a 6-12” depth (this will also add porosity)
  3. SMOOTH with a rake
  4. PLANT seeds, seedlings, vegetables, herbs, flowers, or ornamentals.

Of course water thoroughly after planting, and ENJOY YOUR GARDEN!

Written by Gardening Expert Dave Devine

Earth Day 2015 – “Take Back Compost” Day in NewWest BC, and More!

Earth Day 2015 is HERE!

2015.04 - NewWest BC - Take Back Compost Soil TippedHarvest Power is participating in various ways across North America. A few glimpses:

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC

Earlier this week Harvest provided compost – made from food scraps and yard trimmings from the residents and businesses in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia – to the citizens of New Westminster, BC in their “Take Back Compost Day” event. 2015.04 NewWest BC Take Back Compost Day - GroupNutrients from food scraps came full circle in the form of our Garden Blend, scooped up by residents eager to put it back onto their gardens.

2015.04 - NewWest BC Take Back Compost All GoneStill want a scoop?  We can arrange deliveries (minimum of 3 cubic yards) from Richmond, or pick up as little as 1/2 yard at our site on the North Shore.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

This week we’re at Biomass Conference and Expo. Tomorrow (Wednesday) Kieran takes the stage to talk about carbon, organic waste, clean energy, anaerobic digestion, and all sorts of juicy intersections with a sustainable future. Learn more about Harvest’s clean energy options.

CENTRAL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA

2015.04 EarthDayVisaliaLogoThis Saturday April 25 we’ll be at the City of Visalia and Tulare’s Earth Day / Arbor Day celebration.  Come say hi to Jerry and learn more about our compost products available to the Central Valley of California.

We’ll also be at the Town of Bourne’s Earth Day Celebration at the Residential Recycling Center in case anyone has questions about the proposed project on the Cape.

How and where are you celebrating Earth Day?

Behold, the Power of Harvest Power Compost!

Blue Earth Compost, “Behold, the Power of Harvest Power Compost!

 

This past weekend, Alex, (Owner & Director of Operations extraordinaire), cultivated some beautiful garlic and onions in his home garden using…the power of Harvest Power New England‘s compost! The very same compost created by our household an business subscribers. It is so wonderful (and delicious) to see this come full circle.