September Gardening: The Botany of Desire, Lawn Reform Coalition, Compost and more
An early fall Saturday is hopefully perfect for getting out the garden and getting some real work done, but we all need to return inside for a break or two. Spend this time checking out some the highlights from many of the gardening blogs:
In The News:
Andrea Bellamy, from Heavy Petal, had a chance to preview the Michael Pollan Special that will be playing on PBS later this fall: The Botany of Desire.
Subtitled “A Plant’s Eye View of the World,” The Botany of Desire is based on the best-selling Michael Pollan book of the same name. It examines the unique relationship between humans and plants, with the premise that plants use us for their purposes just as we use them. Linking our fundamental desires for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control with the plants that gratify them — the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato — The Botany of Desire shows that humans are intricately woven into the web of nature, not standing outside it, as so many of us like to believe.
- refraining from using synthetic fertilizers and feeding turf grasses with lawn clippings, clover and compost.
- refraining from using broad-spectrum insecticides and fungidices
- treating weeds by growing a thick healthy lawn and overseeding in the fall.
- allowing lawns to go dormant in the height of summer and winter instead of forcing growth through watering.
- mowing grass at a height of 3"- not shorter to cut down on weeds and maintain moisture in the soil.
- reduce the amount of lawn to only those places where their low growth, walkability, and toughness are required. In all other parts of a landscape, plant more sustainable plants.
At Away to Garden, Margaret shares tips for overwintering tender plants. I like her first tip best:
No two gardeners’ potential places to stash such treasures will match in temperature or humidity, so when I say the basement works well here, your cellar might not. I have identified my best spots by experimenting, and by killing many things in the process. But every year I score another victory or two because I don’t let failure stop me.
(Isn’t all gardening like that?)
But she's take you through, plant type or plant-by-plant to discuss how to try to save some of the tenuous wonders of your summer garden for next year.
I got a lot out reading Daisy's analysis of a summer of compost challenges. The woodier items in her compost did not break down well, but she's giving them more time -a whole nother year. But her main challenge:
My main goal was to add in papers of many kinds - papers and cardboards that are food-tainted or otherwise unsuitable for recycling. Take pizza boxes, for example. The lids are usually contaminated with bits of pizza sauce and spices. Advice from the Interwebs said this: tear these lids in strips, soak them to further break down the fibers, and then bury them in the compost. The cardboard circles from the frozen Tombstone can go this route, too. Further experiments: the wrappers from butter/margarine sticks (hoping such small amounts of dairy won't cause a problem), waxy wrappers from orange dreamsicles, an occasional paper towel.
Coopette was also talking compost: of the worm kind. At a local workshop, she learned how to build her own, and shared the instructions for making your own worm composter (PDF download) from CAG Oxfordshire.
In fact, anything stackable can be made into a DIY wormery. The bottom tray needs to have no holes in the bottom, so it collects the worm ‘tea’ that drains out. You can fit a tap if you want too, but you could also just tip the liquid out as and when necessary. The upper trays need to have holes drilled into the bottom so that liquid drains down and the worms can move through the trays.
And at Garden Rant, there is a guest rant by Roy Mastronauro entitled: Make Compost, Not Garbage where he explains that the landfill is just a stinkier, less efficient form of composting. And we should have as little to do with adding items to the landfill as possible:
You like dirt, you keep your eyes out for sales on soil amendments. Once in a while, you might buy a bag of it. Meanwhile, you're trying to figure out the best way to deal with your leaves this fall, all those weeds you pulled. "They've got seed heads," you say. If your damned garden was so precious, you wouldn't have let the thing go to seed in the first place, would you? Compost the stuff, give your plants the nutrients, and let them crowd out the weeds.
And other news:
Stuart Robinson pointed out that the 2009 Blotanical Awards are up and you can vote on them. Judging will be held from 1500 blogs in categories such as Best Garden Blog, and Blog You'd Most Like an Invite From.
Nickie at Girl Gone Gardening wonders if there my be a silver lining in the dry summer she's had:
Oddly enough, the lack of rain has been joined with a lack of squash bugs. I did not see a SINGLE squash bug this year when normally there are overwhelming numbers of them. I wonder if the lack of rain this year has anything to do with that or if there happens to be another explanation floating around. But anyway, I wish the rain would hold off so I could get some dirt hauled, spinach planted, mulch lain down, and strawberries dug up and shipped out.
At All The Dirt on Gardening, Molly Day discusses the Monarch butterfly caterpillars in her garden.