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Listening to Your Landscape

Forsythia is an indicator plant on the gardening calendar. When Forsythia blooms, it stimulates many gardening activities: pruning, planting cool season flowers, preparing gardens and finally, mulching of established garden beds.

This year, in the Mid Atlantic and other parts of the country, the Forsythia went into a state of suspended animation, the continuation of cold and cloudy weather allowed the Forsythia to bloom for nearly 7 weeks instead of its normal 3 weeks.

You’re not late to jump in now and finish those early spring garden maintenance tasks. It’s Mother Nature’s highlighted message to us humans, “You need more time to Garden, and I gave it to you!”

Need soil or mulch? We’ve got you covered. Request a quote today.

Make Your Bed!

Mothers (and fathers) around the world are known for saying, “Make your bed!” This time of year, 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.

 

How should I make my raised bed?

Check out “5 steps for successful raised bed gardening” post that includes tips and tricks.

How much soil do I need?

It’s a simple-yet-not-so-simple equation that involves length, width, and depth. We provide real case studies on how to figure out how much you need.

What soil should I use?

You’ll likely want a compost if you’re just amending the soil, or a blended mix if you’re filling your raised bed. We offer a variety of quality soil products in different markets, plus a specially formulated Organic Raised Bed Mix in select markets. Contact us for a quote today.

Where can I get inspired for raised bed designs?

Here are 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?

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 tall

EXAMPLE #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!

 

Turn Your Attention to Bioretention

What is a bioswale? How does bioretention work?

A bioswale is a low-lying, linear depression that directs the flow of water while letting it percolate into the soil.  This process is known as bioretention: using biology to retain, or slow, water.

How do bioswales, streetscapes and rain gardens work?

Bioswales, streetscapes, and rain gardens apply the same strategy in different formations: they use soil and plants to manage stormwater and reduce erosion in cost effective, environmentally-friendly manners. The plants and soil – or bioretention media – serve as natural filters that remove silt and pollution from runoff water.

How do bioswales remove pollutants?

Bioswales behave like mini constructed wetlands. After a rain, water flowing off of surfaces – typically roofs or roadway – gets diverted into beds of hardy grasses and other plants. Then, the following occurs as illustrated in the photo:

  1. Soil in the bioswale catches contaminants in the runoff.
  2. Oil and metal contaminants are broken down by soil microbes. This changes their chemical structure so they are no longer toxic.
  3. Contaminant-eating microbes need oxygen to work. Wetland plants bring oxygen into the soil.

Water leaving the bioswale is cleaner than when it came in.

 

What are other ways bioretention soils help reduce pollution?

  • They slow the flow. Water that falls to the earth during rain events 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.
  • They filter out pollutants. Ideally water that reaches surrounding lakes, streams and bodies of water does not have debris or pollutants.

What elements of rain gardens should I look for in a rain garden, streetscape, or bioswale?

A cross section reveals four different layers:

  • Dry – The top where floodwaters never reach. Drainage here is good because it’s at the top of a slope.
  • Mesic – This level, just below the dry zone, experiences occasional, brief winter flooding and summer drought.
  • Moist –  The zone approaching the bottom that experiences frequent winter flooding. The number of plants that can grow here without summer water is limited.
  • Wet – The bottom of the swale will be saturated for a large portion of the year; water plants can be grown here if supplemental water is given in the winter. Without summer irrigation, fewer plants can grow here.

A small rain garden can capture driveway runoff in elegant fashion.How do I build a rain garden or bioswale in on my property?

A rain garden is a planted depression where run-off from roofs, driveways and other surfaces is directed so that it can soak back into the soil naturally rather than run into storm drains. The soil and plants in these areas filter out some impurities before the water drains into sewers, groundwater, rivers and streams.

  • Choose a location: Choose a spot where water can be easily directed through the landscape or from downspouts. Make sure to leave at least 6 feet from your house, and allow for overflow away from foundations and other structures.
  • Prepare the site and soil: Amend the soil so the mix is roughly 50% native soil, 30% soil amendment or compost-based product, and 20% pumice.
  • Mulch: Two kinds of mulch are important in a rain garden. A mulch of pea gravel or river rocks at the point where water enters will help prevent erosion; this mulch should be thick enough that no soil shows through. The rest of the rain garden should have a high-quality soil amendment or compost-based product 1-3” deep added once a year as spring rains taper off. This will help suppress weeds and maintain moisture levels during dry periods.
  • Water during the first couple years: All plants (even drought-tolerant ones) will need supplemental watering the first 1-2 years until they are well established.
  • Avoid fertilizers and pesticides: These should both be avoided in your rain garden whenever possible; part of the goal is to help keep these synthetic chemicals out of local waterways. If necessary, use granular, low phosphorous, organic fertilizer, and the least toxic pesticide available. Plant selection is critical; consult with the nursery specialist for plants that will thrive in this environment.

How does compost fit in to bioretention?

Specially formulated soils rich in organic matter help provide both short-term and long-term positive impacts on soil structure. With compost, the soils resist compaction in finer soils and provide greater drought resistance and water holding capacity in coarse, sandy soils. Soil porosity is key in soil structure and the coarse organic texture of compost creates an environment for better root development. Compost increases Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) which is the ability for soils to retain micro nutrients for the plant to utilize and lowers nutrient leaching. Compost supplies many beneficial micro-organisms and nutrients to soils and growing media as well as bind and degrade specific pollutants – a strong characteristic in bioretention soil use.

The benefits of using compost for plants, the environment and completing the recycling loop in our communities are tremendous. As a plant organic and nutrient source compost works with soil biology naturally to increase soil organism activity. This relationship between planting soils and compost derived from green waste can support a wide variety of soil amendment needs for growing plants, stormwater management and soil erosion.

Where can I get bioretention media?

Harvest offers custom blends in almost all of its markets. Our soil specialists can help meet your needs. Minimum quantities apply.

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

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?

Focus on Connecticut: Landscaping Products and Organics Recycling in 4 Convenient Locations, with 3 Simple Steps

Mulch, Compost & Topsoil

special delivery by HarvestAre you scrambling to get a good Mother’s Day present? (And if you are a mother, have you considered getting yourself your own present?) Consider the gift of simple gardening! We know, it might sound random, but spreading a 2-3” layer of mulch now will spare you hours of weeding later in the season. If you want to dig deeper, high-quality soil blends will also bring a bountiful harvest later in the season.

Harvest New England produces the high-quality landscaping products you want at four convenient CT locations. Quality mulch selections, rich organic compost, enriched topsoil and custom soil blends can be picked up at any of our locations.

Yard Waste Disposal & Organics Recycling

Is a Spring Clean Up still on your horizon? Need yard waste recycling or wood and stump grinding services? We recycle organic materials like logs, branches and tree limbs, leaves, brush. We’re also your resource for food waste composting. Bring your yard waste to any of our locations in Connecticut for fast service. Harvest brings decades of organics recycling management experience to serving the “green” landscaping needs of homeowners, businesses, and municipalities.

 

Get a Price Quote for Mulch, Compost or Topsoil

placing an order online FIRST, TELL US WHAT YOU NEED. Go to our contact page and request a quote. If you have a specific project in mind (leveling the yard, topdressing the lawn, mulching the landscape, installing raised beds) feel free to share! We love to hear more about how our products are being used. If you have a question about our products, ask away!  We’re happy to answer your questions.

order delivery - confirmation over phoneSECOND, WE CONFIRM THE DELIVERY DETAILS WITH YOU. We’ll give you a call (or email) back within 18 hours – usually sooner – and verify your order details and payment information.  If you have any question marks we can often help you figure out how much you need, and which products will make the most sense for your needs.

place an order - deliveryTHIRD, THE DELIVERY GETS SCHEDULED. Our policy is to dump on the driveway or just off the edge with the tires on the driveway.

 

NOTE! When scheduling a delivery there are a few important things to consider. Dump trucks are not made to drive on lawns or off of obvious roads; lawn damage almost always occurs. Also, they need to be on level firm ground in order to dump without tipping over or sinking into a lawn. Just because a cement truck got to a location does not mean a dump truck can get to the same spot. Always have an alternate dumping spot available. Our drivers are experienced professionals. It is their responsibility to alert you to possible dangers and hazards. It’s also your responsibility to alert them to obstacles, sink holes, septics, and such. Be aware of tree limbs, overhead wires and roof overhangs. During wet weather a dump truck can crack the edge of a driveway. It is our driver’s final decision whether or not they can dump in the desired location. Any instruction by the customer to dump elsewhere (not on the driveway or just off the edge with the tires on the driveway) will be the customer’s responsibility for any damage.

What happens to your scraps? Vancouver’s green bin program reduces garbage heading to landfill by 40 per cent

province[1]The Province,What happens to your scraps?,” by Cassidy Olivier

 

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the food scraps you toss into your green bin, the place to go looking for answers is at the end of a nondescript road just off Westminster Highway in Richmond.

That’s where you’ll find Joe Canning, general manager of Harvest Power, who will gladly walk you through the complicated, and entirely engrossing, process that turns yesterday’s leftovers into the building blocks for tomorrow’s food.