Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tree Roots in Compost Pile

Tree Roots in Compost Pile Problem Solving

Tree roots in compost pile??  I have run into this problem a few times.  They are called feeder roots and they are out looking for food for the tree. It used to be that the tree roots extended throughout my compost pile and I couldn’t really get any of the compost.  That was years ago and at that time I gave up trying to make compost.  Now for the last few years I am back in business making compost!  You can see that I had problems in my outdoor worm bin with tree roots in the raised bed.

Layers of Landscape Cloth Did the Trick on the Tree Roots

Tree Roots in Compost PileI recently emptied one of my wire bin composters.  The compost was beautiful black and crumbly.  I was very excited to spread it in my garden.  I made it from leaves,  garden weeds and some coffee grounds from Star Bucks–no kitchen scraps.  The interesting part that I want to share with you is the tree roots that were underneath this compost bin and my successful way of dealing with them.  I put Weedblock landscape cloth under the compost bin.  I used the cloth from my garden from the last year so it had a few holes in it from previous plantings.  Because of the holes I put down several layers of landscape cloth.  There were no feeder roots in my compost pile Yay!!!  but as I peeled back the layers I found some feeder roots between the layers and some under all the layers.  This system worked out really well.  The landscape cloth protected the compost from the feeder roots.  The roots were attracted to this compost pile because of the nutrients seeping into the ground but because there were several layers of fabric the roots were kept out of the pile.  I would call this a successful solution!  I recently watched a movie on What Plants Talk About and there was a section on how roots find food.  This was an amazing and interesting movie.  I learned things about plants that I had no idea about.  Plants are really miraculous.



Hardening Off Seedlings Outside

Hardening off seedlings outside is a very important aspect of growing your own gardening plants from seeds.  Hardening off seedlings means putting them outside for short periods of time before they are ready to be planted so they can toughen up to the cold, the sun and the heat.  And then you gradually extend the amount of time that you leave them outside until they are ready to be transplanted.

Hardening Off Seedlings Outside Learning the Hard Way

Hardening Off Seedlings OutsideI always knew about the concept of hardening seedlings outside and I definitely did it to get them used to cooler temperatures in the early spring.  But I had no idea that the heat could hurt these delicate seedlings until I learned the hard way.  I put a tray of seedlings on the front porch to get some sun.  The first day they were totally fine.  It was around 69-70 degrees that day.  The next day I noticed that some of the leaves were getting white almost like they were bleached and some leaves were just dying.  The temperature was up to about 77 on that day.  I quickly brought them all in but the damage had been done.

Hardening Off Seedlings to Protect the Plants

Leaves Damaged by HeatSeedlings need to be hardened off to heat also just like the cold.  Don’t make my mistake and leave them in the sun for too long in the beginning!  I never thought that the heat would hurt them.  The truth is that with the weather the way it is now we just don’t know what to expect.  It is so variable–very hot or cold when it is not supposed to be.  Who could imagine that we would have some snow in the middle of April or that it is actually 87 degrees out today–the beginning of May.  I really need to watch the weather forecast more carefully for my new seedlings.  More information on getting seedlings ready for planting is available at this link.

Curled Leaves Herbicide Damage

Curled leaves herbicide damage is a common occurrence even if you haven’t sprayed aCurled Leaves Herbicide Damageny herbicide.  Have you noticed curled leaves on any of your vegetables? I mean where the edges are curling up in a drastic way.  To the left is a sugar snap pea leaf where the edges are curling up in a weird way. Below is a picture of oregano where the leaves are curling so much that you can’t even recognize them as leaves.

Curled Leaves Herbicide Damage?

I came out to my garden one morning and found all these curled leaves and I had no ideaCurled Leaves Herbicide Damage on Oregano Plant what was wrong.   My eggplant seedlings were completely damaged.  They never even grew. Needless to say I was very upset to see all this happening.  I knew that herbicides could cause this problem but I don’t use any herbicides in my garden.  I have an organic garden.  So I was very confused.  I started looking up insect damage but I wasn’t successful.  And why would the insect damage be the same on two completely different plants–sugar snap peas and oregano??  It just didn’t make any sense to me.

Neighbors Love Garden Chemicals

After thinking about this for a while I decided to ask my neighbor’s son (who has a garden) if he knew of any herbicide use.  Lo and behold his father had sprayed an herbicide a few days before and it had drifted over to my garden through the chain link fence. Herbicide drift is a common problem in the agricultural world. Now what am I going to do with these neighbors who love chemicals and will just spray indiscriminately.  The son really would prefer an organic garden but the parents like perfection in their yard.  I got up my courage to talk to them and it worked out very well.  Prior to the talk I was thinking about how I could block off my garden from theirs. This included putting up sheets or cardboard next to the chain link fence to block any herbicide drift.  But I didn’t have to do that in the end.  They were very apologetic about the damage and said they weren’t going to spray anymore.

Below are pictures of normal oregano and sugar snap pea leaves.

Normal Oregano Leaves Without Herbicide Damage

Normal Sugar Snap Peas Without Herbicide Damage