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How to Compost the Right Way

You can make composting on-site a goal for your sustainable landscape maintenance to reduce waste and help the soil thrive. You’ll know when the compost is ready to use when it has an earthy smell, has cooled off, and doesn’t reheat when stirred. Next, look for a uniformly dark brown or even black color. You shouldn’t be able to identify any of the original particles.

Spread compost directly on the soil surface to use it as mulch. That can prevent erosion and help plants and soil filter pollution, such as hydrocarbons and metals from road surfaces. Most greenwaste-based composts can be applied to a depth of three inches. Use up to two inches of bio-solids.

If you don’t produce your own compost on site, get it from a reputable source that guarantees high quality. Commercially produced quality can vary significantly due to the diverse nature of feedstock, processes, and maturation standards.

Use compost to make healthier soil

For native plants in your sustainable landscaping, use roughly 15 percent compost by volume to repair disturbed or damaged soils.

Clay-based soil amended with compost leads to more productive and healthy plant growth at a lower cost than amending the same soil with the necessary 45 percent sand. Therefore, you can mix poor soils that are compacted, lifeless, or subsoils with about three to six cubic yards of high quality compost per 1,000 square feet to improve the soil structure.

If your compost is based on bio-solids, it can be high in ammonium nitrogen. Use this type of compost sparingly.  When using bio-solids, be sure you know exactly where they came from.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Composting With Biosolids: What Are Biosolids And What Are They Used For https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/composting-with-biosolids.htm

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Setting Your Landscaping Objectives for Success

When you’ve taken the time to learn about the concepts behind the watershed approach to creating a healthy and sustainable landscape, you should step back and consider the goals you want to achieve in your garden.

If you’re facing an ocean of grass lawn and you’ve never given much thought to landscaping goals, it might be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few ideas.

Saying goodbye to grass

Remove a thirsty lawn without using any chemicals, in a way that preserves the healthy soil microbes.

Plant local California native plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and bees for pollination.

Create a child or pet friendly garden without thorns or sticky grass seed heads.

Plant fruit trees, edible vines and shrubs, or vegetable gardens.

Using water efficiently

Build healthy living soil that will act like a sponge, even if it rains a lot.

Capture all the rainwater from the roof and re-routing downspouts to fill rain barrels instead of running onto hardscaping.

Convert spray irrigation to micro or drip irrigation, with the intention of turning it off after establishing low-water use landscaping.

Make pathways and driveways more permeable.

Create a garden as a personal art gallery

Make room for a small patio with room for an outdoor table or seating.

Add pathways, Zen gardens, and interesting materials and patterns.

Integrate beautiful objects such as an art piece, interesting container collection, or items like sundials.

One goal we can all support: creating a beautiful sustainable landscape that reduces your water use by 70 percent or more.


This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

The 2017 Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival at The Water Conservation Garden. Photo: Water Conservation Garden

Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival Returns to Cuyamaca College, Water Conservation Garden

Butterfly releases, thousands of landscape and garden plants for sale, and museum tours are among the activities at the Spring Garden & Butterfly Festival at Cuyamaca College on April 27.

Several thousand visitors from throughout the region and beyond are expected to visit the college, which houses The Water Conservation Garden and the Heritage of the Americas Museum. All three institutions have planned an array of family-friendly events. Admission is free.

The Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture Department will hold its largest plant sale of the year. Old Town Trolley Tours of San Diego will provide free, narrated rides to and from the garden, the museum and the college.

Water Conservation Garden celebrates 20th anniversary

The Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival is one of the most popular events in East San Diego County.

The Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival is one of the most popular events in East San Diego County. Photo: The Water Conservation Garden

This year’s festival is especially noteworthy because Cuyamaca College is celebrating its 40th anniversary and The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating its 20th. Both will be hosting displays celebrating their histories.

“The Spring Garden & Butterfly Festival is among the most popular events in San Diego’s East County region, and for good reason,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “Not only is the plant sale a major fundraiser for our award-winning Ornamental Horticulture Department, this festival also allows our college, The Water Conservation Garden and the Heritage of the Americas Museum to showcase an impressive array of innovative programs we offer to the community.”

The annual event has its roots in the annual Spring Garden Festival plant sale benefiting the Ornamental Horticulture program. The event combined forces with the annual Butterfly Festival at The Water Conservation Garden in 2017.

For more details go to: https://thegarden.org/springfestival/

 

 

 

Planting Materials: a Dizzying Array of Choices

Gardening has a vocabulary all its own, especially when it comes to the materials we use for planting and growing plants: dirt, soil, potting mix, planter mix, mulch, compost and many more. It can be pretty confusing, even for experienced green thumbs. To help, here’s a breakdown of some of the most common terms you’ll encounter along your gardening odysseys: Dirt is what you sweep out of your house or clean off the soles of your shoes. Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, organic matter (see definition below), water, air, living organisms including tiny insects and animals, bacteria, fungi, etc.