Healthy Garden Soil - Composting; how, when, & why

Written by Sara Chute

Inrepparttar soft, warm bosom of a decaying compost heap, a transformation from life to death and back again is taking place. Life is leavingrepparttar 116311 living plants of yesterday, but in their death these leaves and stalks pass on their vitality torepparttar 116312 coming generations of future seasons. Here inrepparttar 116313 dank, moldy pilerepparttar 116314 wheel of life is turning.

Compost is more than a fertilizer or a healing agent forrepparttar 116315 soil's wounds. It is a symbol of continuing life. Nature herself made compost before man first walkedrepparttar 116316 earth and beforerepparttar 116317 first dinosaur lifted its head aboverepparttar 116318 primeval swamp. Leaves falling torepparttar 116319 forest floor and slowing moldering are composting. The dead grass ofrepparttar 116320 meadow seared by winter's frost is being composted byrepparttar 116321 dampness ofrepparttar 116322 earth beneath. Birds, insects and animals contribute their bodies to this vast and continuing soil rebuilding program of nature.

The compost heap in your garden is an intensified version of this process of death and rebuilding which is going on almost everywhere in nature. Inrepparttar 116323 course of running a garden, there is always an accumulation of organic waste of different sorts - leaves, grass clippings, weeds, twigs - and since time immemorial gardeners have been accumulating this material in piles, eventually to spread it back onrepparttar 116324 soil as rich, dark humus.

The Purpose of Composting:

Gardening and farming disruptrepparttar 116325 natural pattern ofrepparttar 116326 return of plant matter torepparttar 116327 earth. Compost isrepparttar 116328 link between modern agriculture and nature's own method of building soil fertility.

In addition to returning rotting vegetable material torepparttar 116329 soil, there are two major reasons for making compost:

- to render certain materials such as manure and garbage pleasant to handle

- to increaserepparttar 116330 nitrogen content of low-nitrogen materials such as sawdust, straw and corncobs

The high heat of composting rapidly "cooks"repparttar 116331 smell out of manure and garden waste. This is a significant gain because gardeners are often reluctant to use those materials "fresh".

The composting process also increasesrepparttar 116332 nitrogen content ofrepparttar 116333 pile. Microorganisms "burn off" much ofrepparttar 116334 carbon, reducingrepparttar 116335 cubic bulk ofrepparttar 116336 heap but correspondingly increasing its nitrogen portion.

Organic matter is valuable torepparttar 116337 soil only while it is decaying. Even finished compost is actually only partly decayed. It continues to break down inrepparttar 116338 soil, providing food for increasing populations of microorganisms upon which your plant health depends. Pound per pound (kg per kg) compost isrepparttar 116339 finest soil conditioner to be had.

How To Make Compost

Making compost is not difficult and can be easily done at home. Essentially,repparttar 116340 basic methods call for layering natural ingredients in heaps in mixed proportions, providing necessary air and moisture and turningrepparttar 116341 heaps to provide bacterial action on all parts ofrepparttar 116342 heap.

Just about any organic matter can be used. Weeds, fruit and vegetable peelings, grass, garden clippings, dead flowers, sawdust, woodchips, coffee wastes, nutshells, shredded leaves, and more can all be used provided they are chemical, pesticide and herbicide free. Also, do not use feces, or dead animals. In short, think to yourself, "Do I really want to eat this?"

Compost can be made either in open piles or in bins. Piles are more easily turned, but bins have a better appearance inrepparttar 116343 garden. Bins also haverepparttar 116344 advantage of better moisture and temperature control. Personally, I have found beginning with a pit inrepparttar 116345 garden seems to work best, as it attracts earthworms to help withrepparttar 116346 breakdown ofrepparttar 116347 materials, plus you can turn it easily.

1. Whichever method you choose, select a sunny spot and begin by putting down a 6 inch layer of plant wastes such as spoiled hay, straw, sawdust, plant leaves (shredding them first helps) garden clippings, or wood chips

2. Add a 2 inch layer of manure and bedding

3. Follow with a layer of topsoil, approximately 1/8 inch thick. Unrine-impregnated topsoil is particularly valuable but find out whatrepparttar 116348 animals have been eating as hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals etc, will end up in your soil and then in your food.

4. On top of this layer of soil spread a sprinkling of lime, phosphate, bone meal, rock, granite dust, or wood ashes to increaserepparttar 116349 mineral content ofrepparttar 116350 heap. Lime is not added if an acid compost is wanted.

WNV in Mares and Foals-When to Vaccinate?

Written by Michele Anderson

As we begin our fifth year in dealing withrepparttar dreaded WNV, over 14,000 cases inrepparttar 116310 United STates as of 2002 have been reported. The question was raised about a link betweenrepparttar 116311 WNV and abortions in equines.A retrospective study byrepparttar 116312 University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease and Diagnostic Center, from July of 2002 through early 2003, looked at 400 equine abortions for evidence of WNV. Their findings were suprising. Ofrepparttar 116313 400 horses examined, 35 had evidence of WNV. Although this is only approximately 8 percent, it does require more research to see if there is a connection betweenrepparttar 116314 WNV and aborted fetuses. At this time there is no evidence thatrepparttar 116315 WNV causedrepparttar 116316 abortions; only that there was evidence ofrepparttar 116317 virus inrepparttar 116318 aborted fetuses. Further testing and research is ongoing to determinerepparttar 116319 relationship between WNV and abortion.

*Vaccinating Mares and Foals

Renowned veterinarian Rob Holland, DVM, PhD, a private practitioner in Kentucky and a technical services veterinarian forrepparttar 116320 Intervet pharmaceutical company, explainedrepparttar 116321 protocol for vaccinating broodmares.

He recommends you vaccinate your mares four to six weeks BEFORE foaling, what you're doing is bolstering their IgG (a type of antibody) and all their immunological parameters. Inrepparttar 116322 case ofrepparttar 116323 mare andrepparttar 116324 (unborn) foal, there's a six-layer placenta that does a very good job of protectingrepparttar 116325 foal against potential disease that affects repparttar 116326 mare, and doesn't allow any antibodies to cross it.

*Maternal vs. Foal Antibodies

W. David Wilson, MS, BVMS, MRCVS, ofrepparttar 116327 Department of Medicine and Epidemiology in repparttar 116328 School of Veterinary Medicine atrepparttar 116329 University of California, is recommending, based on information gathered from studies with other vaccines, that ifrepparttar 116330 mares are NOT vaccinated against WNV or they haven't been exposed (which is nowrepparttar 116331 situation for only horses inrepparttar 116332 far western states) that foals can be vaccinated starting at two to three months of age.

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