Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Green Fertilizer

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week we considered no-till gardening. I learned a lot about the dangers of disturbing the soil and discovered many methods for gardening in a gentler fashion. One of the more fascinating methods is called Hugelkultur, which is basically planting over buried logs. It's one of the most unique raised beds that I've ever seen. Most of the no-till gardens have a surprising benefit ... once they are established, they are easy to maintain and require less work than common methods. The week gave me a lot to think about and I'll be reading further with the goal of incorporating these methods into our gardening routine.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Alicia's soil is full of clay. Here's what she's done to improve conditions: "Our dirt has a lot of clay in it so we have had to till for the past several years. We have added good nutrients to the soil and lots of compost so it is getting better. This season we have noticed that we are not having to till as much and the dirt is so much more "fluffy" We love buying local veggies and fruits. Alan and our daughter still like to have cheese every so often and I have just discovered a local farm that produces some awesome hormone and antibiotic free cheese. There is also a local farm that has pickles, jams, jellies, relishes and honey. It is all so far superior to what you buy at the grocery. Awesome food and supporting local farmers is the way to go!!!! "

Teresa left a comment, in google+, about Vicality's article on mulch. The article said that commercial mulches often include dyes. Here's what she had to say: "I have often wondered about that myself. I guess some people want a coordinated look. I like the natural look myself. All of ours is from the trees we lost last winter's ice storm."

The Family Focus Blog mentioned our challenge on their Rebel Mouse page and included the twitter names of several #CTWW Gang members.

Marla accepted the challenge and shared this: "We have a new produce store opening this coming Saturday that is less than a mile from my house that grows all their own food that is local and grown organically. I can't wait to go see what great greens and tasty veggies they will be selling. I have been waiting for this store to open for over a year and next door to them is a local nursery that will be opening and a bakery. I am almost out of all my frozen local veggies from last year and too early for my own to be producing yet."

Charlie joined us and left this comment: "We always buy local and/or organic whenever it's avaible. It tastes so much better! Hubby set me up with a garen last weekend. It's not raised like our old one was so he did till up the grass. He added soil that I would not have chosen but nothing I can do about that. I was just thankful he had the time to do it at all. I bought seeds where he was trying to save me some trouble and bought a few plants. This time I want to see things grow from a seed plus, our daughter will love that too. I would like to know how the ground cover works with seeds and plants. When I planted mint last year it over took everything I planted so I don't understand how it can be used. Any advice?"

In reply, I said this: "Hi Charlie. Mint is very invasive so yeah, it doesn't work well with other plants. There are some ground covers, though, that aren't so aggressive and can be grown successfully with other plants. I've even heard that one can simply spread apart the leaves and plant seeds. Here's an article which might help: Hope that helps!"

cstocks stopped by and shared this: " Funny that the tilling thing is today. Today is Earth Day, but more importantly for me, today is tilling day. Good old hoeing, gleaning the weeds out and getting ready to plant some more tomatoes, peppers, basil...Nothing mechanical happens in this veggie garden; it's all a manual operation. (And builds strong bodies better than Wonder bread!)"

cstocks also had a reply to Charlie: "May I add some thoughts for Charlie? Mints can be quite invasive and dominate a garden (and are especially threatening to seed/lings). Instead of growing directly into the garden, try planting it in pathways (thymes do well this way, too, between path stones). Foot traffic will keep it clipped. And it smells awesome! Or instead of direct planting in the garden, put it in a big pot and keep the pot in the garden area. It will keep mint contained, pardon the pun.

Aimee joined us and shared this: "We have raised beds and use the lasagna method for the base of them and square foot for certain plants within them. We don't do any type of double digging (we've heard both good and bad things about it, as described here: so we just build up for our food gardens. Didn't see last week's post on mulch but we have here in Portland where gardeners can list what they want and arborists can dump their woodchips from tree jobs at those spots for free (saves them the cost of paying to get rid of them)...pretty rad :) "

Charlotte dropped by and shared this: "I like the thought of a do not disturb sign for the soil or why not the whole garden :) Let the garden be peaceful and living from soil to the top of the trees. Great challenge as always!" On google+ I asked if people would like to join our challenge. Charlotte replied, "I sure do :) And today I learned two new things: no-till gardening and the double-dig method. Thank you!"

Clare left a comment via Google+. She said, "Farmers have been tilling for so long it requires a complete mindset change. But it is SO worthwhile not to till. Planting intelligently is definitely the way to go! Thanks for a great challenge"

Penge Green Gym wrote an excellent article about mulching. In Mulches and Mulching in #WinsfordGardens a #CTWW Weekly Challenge you'll learn about using wood chips, leaf mould, and even gravel to care for your garden.

The The artists Daily shared one of your posts, which I tweeted about. Was it yours?

Our Twitter friend, @WorldChangingMe, joined the conversation and shared the following:

- Created a raised bed to do square footprint x row gardening for this weeks #ctww #growingsteady… #growyourownfood

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@2kidsandacoupon @adam_gainer @aussiemoose
@beatepdx @beckbromfl @bestrawesome
@bluebadgerltd @brokeblokeblogs @bromleyfl
@cainandbeer @chrysalisdesign @collegegogreen
@debsmikdav1 @dehelen @ecofairiesclean
@familyfocusblog @freshcleanersaz @ginavalley
@givelocal15 @greengympenge @gronavra
@groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972 @justanotherhat
@kaitlingarder @kayelleallen @krmbalclothing
@lady_bren @ladyjcmuses @letgogracefully
@lkaybayareagirl @london_020 @marjoriemcatee
@martha_bourke @mdgblogger @mimibarbour
@momsmadhousex6 @mzazeela @nolafusion
@rainyofthedark @rckweddings @realityarts
@ronchatterjee7 @rose_rambles @rosehipsmedlars
@rulesofgreen @shopwhatpops @spafloating
@sustyq @thefreckledrose @theresekraemer
@theworld4realz @ticlme @tiffanywashko
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @wary12
@wellminded @worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

Take a look at nature. Everything grows, and grows well. The forest doesn't depend on tilling or perfectly groomed beds ... it produces, year after year, using a well-balanced system. No-till gardening brings us one step closer to the perfect growing methods of nature. It's good for the earth and good for us. Perfect!

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

April's theme is: 2015 Year of the Soil

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Green Fertilizer
Oats make a great "green manure"
Did you know that common, commercial fertilizers (synthetic nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium blends) harm the soil?

Healthy soil is a living, breathing environment. Microorganisms help create good soil structure, deliver nutrients to plants, and even help deter pests in a garden. Synthetic fertilizers kill microorganisms by destroying their cell walls.

The same factors which promote faster, and larger, plant growth, cause imbalances in the soil environment. This opens the door to weeds, pests, compaction, and unhealthy plants.

Is there a better way to fertilize? Absolutely!

Here's your challenge ...

This week, investigate green fertilizer (green manure) for use in your home garden. Green fertilizers are basically any crop grown to be turned into, or cut down to lay on top of, the ground for the purpose of adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Some examples are oats, buckwheat, clover, and even leftover seeds. Once a crop is harvested, green manure can be planted. After about a month, it is ready to turn under or cut. If you have an empty plot, green fertilizers can be used to prepare the area for future planting or simply to protect the soil. To get advice on the best crops to plant for your area and needs, contact your county extension (just search the term "??? County Extension", replacing the ??? with your county).

OR ...

Since organic farming typically makes use of green fertilizers, commit to buying organic foods this week.

Are you ready to investigate the wonderful world of green manure? I know that you are!

Until next time ...