Want a great lawn next summer? NOW is the time to start. Cooler temperatures will kickstart both the top growth and root growth. Fall is the ideal time to both pamper your grass and feed those roots.
The easiest first step in optimal lawn care is to begin mulching your grass clippings and leaves back into the lawn. That is the single simplest change you can make in your routine that will have a big impact on the health of your lawn for next year. This step alone recycles nutrient-rich materials back into your lawn rather than contributing to landscape waste on the curb.
If you are already mulching your grass clippings back into your lawn, then take the next step — assess your lawn. Get to know your lawn a bit better. Establish a good baseline on where you are at now and where you want to be next year. Here are some simple ways to do that:
Right now — around Labor Day — is the ideal time to think about your “wish list” for next year’s front yard and to begin to create your very own backyard oasis. Not only is it a good time to visualize what you want for your lawn, but it is also a good time to plan for your garden beds. Do you want to accent your lawn with borders of color in the spring? Do you love seeing tulips and daffodils popping up in other yards? Begin to think now about your own space and plan ahead.
Each week in the lawn care series, the Whitefish Bay Garden Club will suggest some action items that you can take to enhance your lawn and gardens for next year.
Mary Beth Mahoney has a passion for organic lawn care and sustainable lifestyle choices. She is a Master Composter in both Wisconsin and Illinois. She served as a Master Gardener in Illinois and has taken professional courses in turf management, soil sciences, and commercial composting. She is a member of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club.
Looking for an attractive way to store kitchen waste before it heads outside for composting? Vintage soup tureens can be found for reasonable prices at thrift and antique stores. These lidded vessels work well to hide veggie scraps, fruit scraps, tea leaves, and coffee grounds...even house plant trimmings before they are taken outside and they look nice enough to keep out on the counter top. They can also be run through the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Tip 'O The Day: Stone Creek offers their coffee grounds for free to whomever would like to collect them for composting.
Photo and Blog Post provided by WFBGC member Anne O'Connor.
_ Whitefish Bay Garden Club President Mary Beth Mahoney recently presented a program on composting as part of the Garden Club's Community Education Series. Mary Beth got hooked on composing after reading a book by Mike McGraf on composting.
Here are some of the program's highlights:
Four elements are needed for compost: greens (nitrogen-herbaceous plants, fruits and veggies), browns (carbon-trees and shrubs, dried leaves), water, and air.
Use 2 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen
Chop up into small pieces, mix together, maintain a proper balance of greens and browns, and incorporate soil to introduce the necessary micro-organisms. Add water in the spring when the temp is above 50F. Final layer should be about 3” of brown (shredded leaves or paper)
• chop pieces small
• layer with brown on top to avoid fruit flies
• build a 3’ x 3’ x 3‘ minimum size bin.
• turn the contents if ventilation pipes are not incorporated into the design to allow air flow.
• no pet waste, meat, dairy, fish, prepared foods (animal waste from those that are naturally vegetarian only)
• keep adding material once set up is complete
• add weeds, seeds, rhizomes (roots and leaves are great though)
Composting is like assembling a buffet for micro-organisms that break it down and makes the soil amendment. Since different organisms feed at different levels of heat, it is important to not add to it once set up
ULTIMATE NO-TURN COMPOST PILE
put a layer of twigs at the bottom for air circulation, Use PVC or other similar material with large holes drilled into it for air circulation (4-5 standing vertically in the bin). Add water as you build. Let it bake. OK to add materials during the winter, but once temps hit 50F, stop and let it cook.
• Use red wiggle worms
• Use completely opaque container, dark bin
• Rinse the bins thoroughly before using and drill holes in the lid for air circulation
• bedding material- use shredded newspaper or peat moss or coir (shredded coconut shells)
• moisture level should be equivalent to a damp sponge
• use some soil for grit (sand or dirt)
• 1/2C to 1C egg shells for calcium
• hand full of worms
• Feed them veggies, most fruits, egg shells, coffee, tea, finely chopped or crushed food
• Don't feed them onions, garlic, citrus rinds of fruit, meat, dairy, fried foods, or oily sauces
• Bury the food in a pocket or corner of the bin about 3” deep
take the compost from the opposite side of the feeding pocket
as worms reproduce, give them to a friend, usually find them in the feeding pocket
spread 1”-2” of compost on garden beds in spring
spread 1/2” of compost on turf
a Japanese method using fermentation (pickling). Dilute the compost tea from Bokashi 10:1. Bury the waste 12” deep outside
Mary Beth also provided a handout to compliment her presentation. Please find a pdf of that handout below, print, and enjoy! Happy Composting!!!
_ Did you know the state of Wisconsin will notify you when lawn and landscape pesticides are to be applied to adjacent properties by commercial applicators? To take advantage of this free service, all you have to do is sign up with WI-DATCP. For more details on the program and who to contact, go to http://datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/landreg/index.jsp
The October Garden Club meeting was a joint meeting with the Fox Point Garden club, organized by the Fox Point Club and held at Dunwoody School. The meeting featured a presentation by Gretchen Meade, the founding Director of the Victory Garden Initiative (VGI), begun in 2008.
Gretchen began by describing 4 “stories”: Self story, Food story, Collective Story, and Now story. She began by discussing her personal background and growing up near Galena IL. She talked about the shift in jobs in the food industry and how things have changed as food moved away from local and towards large conglomerates. She talked about her experience working on an organic farm in central Wisconsin and then her move to Milwaukee.
She discussed her studies about various aspects of the food system including food waste (40%), research of cost of food vs fossil fuels and how the current system makes our food system more insecure, does not promote ecological sustainability (reliance on distant water systems, average bite of food travels 1500 miles before we eat it, etc). She touched on how local food growers promote better health, social justice (cost and quality of food), food synergies (GMO and labeling), food security issues and supporting healthy communities.
She then addressed solutions. These include political policies such as state and federal laws (ie land access in cities), the marketplace and how we use our dollars and the impact/empowerment it can create, and the impact of growing our own food.
All the above led her to start the Victory Gardens Initiative (VGI) in 2008. Their first day they installed 40 gardens in front yards in Shorewood. It garnered national attention on NPR. This past May they installed over 500 gardens.
VGI gets funding from many sources including grants, program revenues, sponsorships and product donations. They offer gardening classes and mentoring programs. They install 5 urban orchards a year, run the Concordia gardens and offer a Food Leaders Certification program.
These are the reasons Gretchen shared for “growing your own”
1. Connects to the environment
2. gardening is the new front porch, connecting us to our neighbors
3. our food is immediately accessible
4. promotes the idea of self sufficiency
5. provides food security-we know what we are getting
6. reduces energy consumption (carbon footprint of transportation)
7. creates community bonding
8. provides fresh air and vitamin D
9. reduces crime in areas-people are out and about and know their neighbors
10. kids want to eat what they grow
11. it is a visible manifestation-gives people an example of a future
12. growing food is a direct action that creates change to what we are aiming for
13. fosters a barter economy
14. improves the urban eco system
15. provides physical activity
16. It is a spiritual and therapeutic act for people- puts our universe in perspective.
For a comprehensive list of local farmers and farmers markets in Southeastern Wisconsin, please visit www.farmfreshsewi.org.
Hello Baseball Families!
I am very pleased to announce that Whitefish Bay Little League adopted a new turf management policy at our last Board meeting that will greatly reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals at Craig Counsell Park in 2013. The official Resolution authorizes us to work with a natural turf care firm in conjunction with our landscaper in adopting natural techniques to strengthen our fields and combat those pesky weeds and pests. We have reserved the option of spot applications of herbicides if localized weeds are in need of control. That means we may apply some weed kill in spots as a last resort. But we will not schedule a full field spraying over Memorial Day weekend as in the past.
The Resolution anticipates a 3-year commitment to the new approach. Your Board has learned a great deal about this topic over the past year. In a nutshell we are trying to create healthier fields and that is not an overnight process. However the virtual elimination of chemicals is immediate.
Thank you to everyone that has voiced an opinion on this topic. You are welcome to attend any of our Board meetings, and can review the Agendas and Minutes online.
And remember, REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. Sign up your players, offer to volunteer and get ready for another fantastic season at Craig Counsell Park!
The Lawn and Garden Tips page is updated by members of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club.