• Time to Plant Heat-Happy Vegetables in June in Southern California
    Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at

  • There is still time to enjoy a full Southern California summer garden by planting heat-happy vegetables in June. The typically mild Southern California temperatures during the month give these vegetables a good start for the hotter months ahead, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 Southern California communities.

    Plant Vegetables That Can Withstand Heat: A number of vegetables can be planted in June that can thrive even in the soon-to-be-here heat of summer. These include summer squash, pumpkins, corn, lima beans, okra, all types of peppers, zucchini, melons and eggplant.

    Trim Herb Plants: Herbs planted in early spring should have full, healthy leaves by June. Keep an eye out for signs of blooms and remove them immediately whenever spotted. This will keep herbs focused on growing bigger leaves. If herbs are allowed to go to seed, their leaves dry and become bitter tasting.

    Prepare Lawn For Summer: Thatch is dead or decaying debris between a lawn's grass blades and roots. If allowed to become too thick, water will not absorb into the roots. You may find yourself watering your grass but most of the water will either run off or evaporate. Aerate and dethatch warm season lawns (such as Bermuda grass and St. Augustine) now by using a dethatching rake or aerator (available for rent at large home centers). The aerator punctures holes in the surface of the lawn enabling water to penetrate and deeper root growth. Apply a light layer of lawn topping to keep in moisture and reduce water usage. This is also the best time to reseed lawn bare spots.

    Harvest Early: homegrown vegetables rarely grow as large as those found in the store. Harvest them as soon as you see a slowdown in growth. This will encourage new growth. Vegetables left too long on the plant are a signal for the plant to stop producing. For some vegetables, it can be hard to tell when it is time to harvest. Carrots are ripe when their tops peak out of the ground and their leaves turn a dark green. Garlic bulbs are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to dry naturally. Once picked, let the garlic (with stems) dry on a slotted tray in a warm, dry and shaded area. 

    Keep Rodents From Decimating Your Garden: Nothing can be more frustrating to a gardener than to wake up in the morning to find that rabbits have spent the night feasting on vegetables and flowers.  One line of defense is to build a fence around the perimeter of the garden at least one foot deep and three feet high. Another natural way of reducing rodent invasions is to plant strong smelling plants around the garden such as marigolds, garlic, onion, sage and rosemary. Also try spraying a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper with 1 quart of warm water on and around plants.

    Trellis Vegetables: A variety of vining plants will produce more crops when grown on trellises. Trellis gardening also requires less space than traditional gardens. Vining vegetables that do especially well when grown on a trellis include cucumbers, squashes and tomatoes. Because the vegetables are kept off the ground, mildew and bug damage is reduced.

                For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

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  • Cal Poly Agricultural Composting Class Visits Agromin
    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at

  •  On April 25, Agromin opened its Oxnard compost facility to students taking part in the Cal Poly Center for Sustainability/Main Compost School five-day training workshop on large-scale agricultural composting. The comprehensive tour gave students the opportunity to see Agromin's organically-certified commercial scale composting process in action. "It was fantastic – a very impressive operation," says Hunter Francis, Cal Poly's Director of the Center for Sustainability. "Giving our students the opportunity to see composting in action really helped us add to the overall quality of the training."

    A number of Agromin staff members enrolled in the training program to ensure that our products continue to be manufactured in accordance with the standards Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) standards established by the US Composting Council, Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) standards, and CDFA's Organic Input Material certification standards.  

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  • Compost Awareness Week - May 5 - 12
    Thursday, May 3, 2012 at

    The week of May 5 - 12 is International Compost Awareness Week. The theme is Compost! …Replenish the Earth for Generations." Communities throughout the world will be celebrating and acknowledging the importance of composting to the environment and to our future. Do your part by starting your own backyard composting pile or finding a compost provider in your area.

    The Compost Awareness Week began in 1995 by the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) and other international compost organizations. Here are some facts about compost from USCC:

    Compost improves soil structure and porosity – Compost physically loosens soil and helps create a better plant root environment. Plants are only as healthy as their root systems allow them to be!

    Compost increases moisture infiltration and permeability; reducing bulk density in heavy soils while also improving the moisture holding capacity of light soils – Water is a precious and limited resource. Improving moisture infiltration rates, reducing erosion and runoff, reducing water loss and nutrient leaching, and improving moisture retention are all derived from compost use.

    Compost supplies organic matter – Organic matter serves as a reservoir of nutrients and water in the soil, aids in reducing compaction and surface crusting, and increases water infiltration into the soil. Organic matter is necessary for ongoing soil health, and serves as a fast-acting nutrient supply, while also working in a time-release manner. In effect, while plants feed off of active materials, the more stable materials are gradually converting into usable nutrients. In addition, the stable decomposing forms quickly absorb available soil nutrients for plant use. (University of Minnesota Extension).

    Compost allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients, while reducing nutrient loss by leaching – Chemical fertilizers are expensive and becoming restricted in many parts of the US due to environmental concerns over Nitrogen and Phosphorus pollution. Compost allows the consumer to use less, and to make their use much more effective.

    Compost supplies beneficial microorganisms to soils – Compost is a living product. Healthy soil is a living material, ideally filled with beneficial microorganisms. As small as they are, soil microorganisms are the real giants in your garden, and your garden soil should be swarming with millions of these microorganisms. This “living-soil-life” helps; keep your soil healthy, decompose organic matter, replenish soil nutrients, form humus, promote root growth, increase nutrient uptake, and breakdown herbicides and pesticides. These microorganisms include bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa.

    To find out where to buy compost, go to the USCC link: Compost Locator.

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