Edibles with Ease: When to Get Growing from Seeds or from Starts? Read more »
In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of crafting and mixed media tasks, our Amplify® Mixed Media Shears sense blade separation and force th... Read more »
Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with a Squeeze Punch that makes every embellishment up to 2X easier to pun... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
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Community gardens aren’t just allotments — they’re urban farms, great places to share gardening skills and crops.
Keep all of your tools performing at their best.
No matter how many synthetic chemicals are added to your soil, without the proper moisture holding capacity and the proper pH, much will be wasted. When sufficient organic matter is present in soil, it will have the proper balance to manage drainage properly and soil pH will be neutral for efficient uptake of nutrients.
Think of soil rich in organic matter as a savings account for your plants. The nutrients are released back to your plants much like a steady income. The more you need, the more you get. The nutrients found in organic matter stay in the soil much longer than water-soluble synthetics which rapidly leach through the soil. Moreover, soils rich in organic matter will typically contain all the necessary nutrients, thus eliminating the need to add supplemental synthetic nutrients.
Now visualize someone who has just been given a lot of money all at once. Rather than putting it in the bank, they spend it all immediately. It feels good temporarily, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. There are no reserves to draw on over time. That’s how I think of water soluble inorganic fertilizers. They work but what nutrients aren’t absorbed by the roots quickly pass through the soil, leaving behind potentially damaging salts.
Organic matter is, was or comes from living things. Some of the most common natural amendments found in nature include decomposed plant residue, dead roots, excreted waste from soil dwelling organisms, composted bark, manure, leaves and sticks. When you think of a lush forest or woodland setting, all that makes up the soil there is a collection of natural amendments over time. The only fertilizer is what is derived naturally from the soil. And yet how lush a woodland setting is.
In our home landscapes and gardens, we can create the same affect. In addition to the amendments mentioned above, we can use grass clippings, mushroom compost, peat moss, peanut or coco shells and so much more. Collectively, it may be just good old compost; the biodegraded product of raw organic matter, albeit a collection of the above or a single ingredient such as rotted tree leaves. But whatever it’s made of, it contains billions of living beneficial microorganisms and includes vital organically derived nutrients.
There’s a second reason adding organic matter is so import to creating healthy soil as I alluded to in my opening paragraph. It improves drainage of compacted soils and increases water retention in loose, sandy soils. Amendments incorporated into the soil allow some particulates to bind together while preventing others from creating too large a mass. In total, the organic elements along with the native sand, silt or clay work in harmony to improve the structure, tilth and texture of any soil, while at the same time, building up nutrients and reducing the need for supplemental water and fertilizers.
As you build healthy soil in your home garden and landscape, how much you add will depend on the condition of your soil before you start. The amount will vary but your goal is to add enough so that compacted soil breaks apart and loose soil binds together.
There’s no cookie-cutter recipe for this but here’s a good rule to follow. Your goal for adding organic matter to the soil should be to end up with a consistency that binds together when squeezed but breaks about easily when disturbed. It doesn’t take as much as you think and more is not necessarily. You just want to supplement the native soil, not replace it. Over time, organic matter will continue to break down and decompose so you will need to periodically add more. But as you do, know that your soil is getting better and healthier all the time and as you continue to feed the soil, you’re plants will reward your efforts.