Composting and Soil Improvements

Written by David Selman,

Composting provides a great natural resource!

Where we live,repparttar soil is black clay (north Texas). We have found that by using a compost, we can almost eliminaterepparttar 113427 need for commercial fertilizers to grow most vegetables, herbs and spices.

Our compost is lined with rail-road ties (4 tall) but is open on one side for easy access. We put hay, table scraps, garden scraps, firewood ash, and manure from our cattle and horses in it. The materials inrepparttar 113428 compost are "turned" from time to time. The soil fromrepparttar 113429 compost is great for starting new plants of all kinds as well as being tilled intorepparttar 113430 soil ofrepparttar 113431 garden. This organically rich soil helps makerepparttar 113432 black clay much easier to work and provides nutrients forrepparttar 113433 vegetables. Neighbors barns and livestock auction houses are great resources for manure. Composting provides an environmentally safe way to transform biodegradable waste products into rich and fertile soil.

For those of you who suffer from a high concentration of clay in your soil, composting isrepparttar 113434 answer. Composting will supply your garden with a continual source of rich humus that will loosen up clay based (heavy) soils, allowingrepparttar 113435 roots of flowers and vegetables to penetraterepparttar 113436 soil. For folks with sandy soils, compost will performrepparttar 113437 opposite function: it will bring soil particles together and help retain water for plants to use, while still allowingrepparttar 113438 soil to "breath."

A few ofrepparttar 113439 best composting materials include leaves, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, farm manure, garden waste, sawdust and vegetable peelings. Household biodegradable refuse is not recommended because it’s messy and attracts insects & rodents. These are items you deffinately don't want to use; bones, meat scraps, cat or dog manure, grease, diseased plants or walnut leaves.There are several companies that manufacture composting bins. Another option is to use scrap lumber, railroad ties or wood pallets. Make sure whatever you build is well ventilated to allow forrepparttar 113440 free movement of moisture and air, which will aid inrepparttar 113441 breakdown process. I use three wood pallets which I stand at right angles to each other. I tie these together to hold them in place. This makes it easy to accessrepparttar 113442 compost, which needs to be periodically turned to aid inrepparttar 113443 breakdown stage.

Lawns, Gophers & Moles

Written by Thomas Leo Ogren

Lawns, Gophers & Moles Thomas Ogren A few gophers can tear up a nice lawn in short order. Even if you’re a complete animal lover, you won’t wantrepparttar gophers in your yard. After they destroy your lawn they’ll start eatingrepparttar 113426 roots and killing your roses, fruit trees, any attempt at a vegetable garden,repparttar 113427 bulbs you plant and so forth. Gophers and gardening don’t go together at all! The gophers got to go. I have had many run ins with gophers in my years of gardening and I’ve always been successful in getting them out ofrepparttar 113428 lawn and garden. I don’t like killing them or any animals for that matter, but with gophers, they usually don’t give you much choice. Poisons Resistrepparttar 113429 urge to use gopher or mole poisons. The poisons only work so-so, andrepparttar 113430 poisoned rodents may easily be eaten by an owl, snake, cat, or fox, and then they’ll die too. Ifrepparttar 113431 predators are killed offrepparttar 113432 rodent population, unchecked, will quickly explode in number. Barn Owls If you’re out inrepparttar 113433 country one ofrepparttar 113434 best ways to get rid of both gophers and moles is to put up nesting boxes for barn owls. These big nesting boxes are generally perched onrepparttar 113435 top of 11 to 20-foot tall poles. The boxes and their poles are placed away fromrepparttar 113436 house but not too far fromrepparttar 113437 lawns and yards. A nesting family of barn owls will eat thousands of rodents each season, and they are very good at catching gophers and moles. If you live in an area where palm trees grow, and you do not trim offrepparttar 113438 dead branches that accumulate belowrepparttar 113439 crown, sooner or later a barn owl will move in and set up home. Take advantage of this and leave a palm tree unsheared. The incredible number of rats, mice, moles, ground squirrels, and gophers they’ll kill and eat is quite incredible. I now see in many orchards and vineyards, where they have put up these owl boxes. The owls are savingrepparttar 113440 farmers a lot of money. Nesting boxes for barn owls are usually made from plywood andrepparttar 113441 roofs are slanted so water will run off. Sometimesrepparttar 113442 roofs are shingled too. A nesting box for barn owls should be a minimum of 12 x 12 inches forrepparttar 113443 floor and at least 16 inches deep. The box should have small drain holes placed inrepparttar 113444 floor, inrepparttar 113445 corners. Small holes should be drilled aroundrepparttar 113446 top ofrepparttar 113447 box on each side for air circulation. It is best to buildrepparttar 113448 box so that it can be cleaned out easily once a year whenrepparttar 113449 owls are gone. The box should have only one opening and this must be at least 3 ½ inches in diameter but not more than 5 inches wide. Too large an entrance hole will let great horned owls in and they’ll eat uprepparttar 113450 barn owls. Horned owls eat rodents too, but are not nearly as tough on rodents asrepparttar 113451 smaller barn owls. *For a place to buy good owl boxes already made (they’ll ship them to you) seerepparttar 113452 Owl Nestbox Resource Page underrepparttar 113453 links section of this book. At this site you can also find more detailed instructions on building your own owl boxes. The bottom line with barn owls is they arerepparttar 113454 most effective rodent killers in existence. The right family cat can also be a pretty good rodent catcher. Gopher snakes! I also know of quite a few people who have caught gopher snakes and then released them on their own property. The best way to catch a gopher snake or two is to drive very slowly inrepparttar 113455 country on a paved road that gets very little traffic. Pinrepparttar 113456 snake’s head down with a stick, pick it up firmly from behindrepparttar 113457 head, and stick him in an old pillow sack. They’re not poisonous but will often bite andrepparttar 113458 bites don’t feel good either. The best time to go looking for gopher snakes is in spring and early summer, just before and just after dark. Evenings that are cold and windy will produce no snakes and nights will full moons are likewise not productive. Gopher snakes are, like barn owls, designed by nature to catch and eat gophers and moles. Gopher traps There are a number of gopher traps onrepparttar 113459 market but by farrepparttar 113460 best isrepparttar 113461 old Maccabee gopher trap made of heavy wire. These are tricky to set if you’ve never done it before, so buy them at a farm supply store and ask someone there to show you exactly how to set one before you leaverepparttar 113462 store. Trapping gophers is very effective if done right. 1.Tie a wire about two feet long onrepparttar 113463 end ofrepparttar 113464 gopher trap and secure it to a sturdy metal or wooden stake. 2.Findrepparttar 113465 newest, freshest gopher mound. 3.Dig outrepparttar 113466 opening ofrepparttar 113467 mound with a shovel, open uprepparttar 113468 tunnel and placerepparttar 113469 trap as far intorepparttar 113470 hole as possible. 4.Poundrepparttar 113471 stake down nearrepparttar 113472 hole but not intorepparttar 113473 tunnel itself. The stake and wire will insure that you don’t loserepparttar 113474 trap. A trapped gopher may easily drawrepparttar 113475 attention of a cat, dog, hawk, owl, skunk or fox, and they’ll run off with your gopher and your trap. The wire and stake keep that from happening. 5.Leaverepparttar 113476 opening ofrepparttar 113477 hole open. The light coming intorepparttar 113478 hole will serve as bait, sincerepparttar 113479 gophers intended for that hole to be closed. 6.Set several traps in different holes if possible. 7.Checkrepparttar 113480 traps at least once a day and re-set them if you’ve killed a gopher or ifrepparttar 113481 gopher has set offrepparttar 113482 trap and gotten away.

Water, smoke bombs, and road flares Sometimes you can getrepparttar 113483 gophers, and moles too, to move out of your territory just by flooding their holes. By all means go ahead and stickrepparttar 113484 garden hose down a few holes and give this a try. Usually though, flooding them doesn’t work very well, if at all. Smoking them out works much better than flooding them. There are special gopher smoker bombs made and sold in all good nurseries and these work pretty well. What works even better thanrepparttar 113485 gopher bombs are regular red road flares. You can buy road flares very cheaply too, at an auto parts store. They will usually come in several lengths andrepparttar 113486 longer ones burn longer and are more effective. At any rate road flares of any length work pretty well. Dig outrepparttar 113487 gopher mound and open uprepparttar 113488 tunnel. Lightrepparttar 113489 road flare by twisting offrepparttar 113490 cap and then strikingrepparttar 113491 tip ofrepparttar 113492 flare withrepparttar 113493 end ofrepparttar 113494 cap. Point it away from yourself so you don’t get burned. Shoverepparttar 113495 lit end ofrepparttar 113496 road flare intorepparttar 113497 gopher tunnel and then shovel some dirt back overrepparttar 113498 top ofrepparttar 113499 opening. Stamp it all shut tight withrepparttar 113500 sole of your shoe. You’ll see some ofrepparttar 113501 smoke escaping up throughrepparttar 113502 dirt. If you spot smoke coming up from another hole inrepparttar 113503 lawn, quickly go over there and plug up that hole. The smoke from road flares is sulfur smoke and it will stink outrepparttar 113504 entire tunnel. On occasionrepparttar 113505 gophers will be asphyxiated fromrepparttar 113506 smoke and will die inrepparttar 113507 tunnels. More often though, they will take off for an area not anywhere near that stinky sulfur smoke. The smoke and its smell will persist inrepparttar 113508 tunnel for some time andrepparttar 113509 gophers will often simply abandonrepparttar 113510 tunnel. The gophers may well make several more attacks on your lawn and flower beds and you may need to smoke them several times and in several different tunnels to get rid of them. Ifrepparttar 113511 smoking doesn’t work for you, buy some gopher traps…. or get a gopher snake. Moles Gophers are much larger than moles and they dig much larger holes and tunnels too. Gopher tunnels are often fairly deep intorepparttar 113512 ground but mole tunnels often run just underrepparttar 113513 surface ofrepparttar 113514 lawn. Often you can just look atrepparttar 113515 lawn and see exactly where these mole tunnels are because they are pushed up just underrepparttar 113516 surface ofrepparttar 113517 lawn. Gophers come into an area to eatrepparttar 113518 plants but moles are insect eaters and they don’t actually eat any of your lawn at all. Moles seem to be much more common in high rainfall areas and are uncommon in drier, irrigated lawn areas. Moles and grubs There are many different traps made for killing moles but resistrepparttar 113519 urge to buy and use these. Poison baits for moles are not a good idea either. The moles are tunneling through your lawn for a reason. If you have moles inrepparttar 113520 lawn, you can be assured that you also have a lot of grubs inrepparttar 113521 lawn too. The moles are eating these grubs. The grubs can be up to about an inch long and they are usually white or gray and often have brown heads. Areas where grub infestations are especially thick will often show patches of lawn dying fromrepparttar 113522 grubs. Grubs or Dogs? If you have a dead patch of lawn whererepparttar 113523 center ofrepparttar 113524 patch is totally dead butrepparttar 113525 edges ofrepparttar 113526 patch are extra green, this damage isn’t from grubs, it’s from dog urine. The nitrogen inrepparttar 113527 urine fertilizesrepparttar 113528 lawn that it doesn’t outright overdose and kill. This is whyrepparttar 113529 edges ofrepparttar 113530 patch will be greener thanrepparttar 113531 rest ofrepparttar 113532 lawn.

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