How to Make Mulch for Your Garden

We all know mulch is a vital component to keeping your garden plants healthy and thriving. But bag after bag of mulch can be costly… what if we told you there was a way you could save money by making your own? It is possible and more sustainable. When you make your own mulch from your own yard waste you are repurposing what you would otherwise get rid of and creating a space for organisms like earthworms to reside. It’s a win, win!

Why Mulch?

Mulch is an essential part of your garden, it serves as a barrier for your plants. You can count on it to keep moisture inside the soil, overpower weeds, regulate soil temperature, and create a beautiful garden!

Organic mulches will help the soil hold more nutrients, increase drainage, and improve the soil structure. Not to mention, organic mulches have been proven to help vegetable and fruit yields increase.

You will also notice that pests are not a fan of the smell of organic mulches. They will stay away from your garden – this adds another layer of protection.

Here’s How To Get Started Making Your Own Mulch…

#1 – Gather

To begin creating your own mulch, gather dead leaves into piles in your backyard. Also, collect the fallen tree limbs and dead branches.

#2 – Shred

Get out your lawnmower and your wood chipper. Use the lawnmower to mow over the leaf piles. This will shred them into small pieces. Then, use the wood chipper to chop your limbs and branches into tiny bits.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a wood chipper, no problem! You can rent one in most parts of the country for less than $100/day.

#3 – Combine

Once the leaves, limbs, and branches are in small pieces, use a shovel to combine these ingredients. You can even throw in some of your own compost to the mix. All of these together will work in harmony to protect your plants from heat and pests.

The Natural Solution

Mulch lays the groundwork for your garden and creates a place for your plants to flourish. To aid this effort, use Ultra®. Ultra® is a 100% organic, environmentally safe prebiotic that contains macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that benefit both the soil and plants production and health. This AgriGro product is simple to use and can be applied to the soil, seed, roots and plant foliage to maximize growth and production.

To Use on Foliage:

Mix 1 to 2-oz. in one gallon of water and mist evenly onto plant foliage every 7 to 14 days. Water as usual. For best results, apply it in the early morning or late evening, not in direct sunlight when temperatures exceed 85-degrees F.

Ultra® is sure to be a great compliment to your mulching efforts – helping you grow the way nature intended!




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SOURCES:
Bucki, Piotr, and Piotr Siwek. ” Organic and non-organic mulches – impact on environmental conditions, yield, and quality of Cucurbitaceae”. Folia Horticulturae 31.1 (2019): 129-145..
Johnson, Warren. “Make your own pest-repelling mulch.” Mother Earth News, no. 215, Apr.-May 2006, p. 18. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

Feeding Cattle In A High Dollar Corn Market

The year 2020 has come and gone, and it has been a year unlike any other. The ups and downs in the cattle market have taken their toll on farmers and ranchers at one point or another.

No one expected corn to reach $5 per bushel, but here we are. If you’re selling corn this year, the corn board could currently look like a gift. But if you’re one of the many farmers and ranchers trying to grow cattle on corn, this market can look especially grim.

It has caused us to really sit down and evaluate our feeding programs. Why do we feed corn? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? Are there other alternatives we can use in a market such as this?

Advantages

  • High energy & digestibility: Corn is highly digestible in the rumen and is energy-dense, which allows cattle to lay down condition fairly quickly.
  • Marbling: Calves fed moderate levels of grain early in life begin laying down intramuscular fat, also known as marbling.
  • Palatability: Corn is extremely palatable to cattle of all ages.

Disadvantages

  • Starch levels: Corn is high starch, which negatively affects forage digestion.
  • Low protein content: Protein sources are often required to accompany corn due to inadequate protein levels.
  • Further processing: More often than not, corn will need to be further processed, which adds extra costs. Processing such as rolling, grinding, or steam flaking, does not usually result in greater average daily gain but it can improve feed efficiency.

Corn Alternatives

There are a variety of non-corn grain energy options available on the market. Some of these are lower in starch, with similar energy values, such as distillers and beet pulp. These feed alternatives can be very palatable and can be much more cost-efficient in times like these today. One of the most important factors to consider when selecting an alternative feed is its efficiency. If cattle aren’t efficient on it, it can cost you more than you think. In addition to grain alternatives, feed additives can give an additional boost to digestibility and efficiency.

AgriGro’s Got Your Back

AgriGro is invested in your long term profitability. And for that, efficiency is key. Nutri-Zyme® is a feed and water additive that improves gut health and intake, which leads to better gain and overall improved health. With all of these factors in place, improved efficiency is inevitable. Learn more about AgriGro and Nutri-Zyme® today.


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Turfgrass Response to Mowing Pt. 2

Recently, we discussed the impacts mowing can have on your grass. While it is necessary for a well-maintained lawn, we must consider its impact. A key question is… what length should I keep my grass?

The lower you maintain your grass, the higher the maintenance requirements. Shorter roots of low maintained grass are affected more rapidly by high heat. Low maintained grass must be mowed more often than higher maintained grass. Using the one-third rule, never remove more than one-third of the grass at a time.

 How Much Blade Length Should Be Cut at a Time

The general rule for mowing is to never remove more than one-third of the total blade length at a time. To remove more causes more stress on the plant.

For example, if you are maintaining your Bermudagrass lawn at 1.5″, you will be cutting the grass again when it puts on only half an inch of growth. If your Bermudagrass is maintained at 1-inch, then only one-third of an inch of growth puts you back on the mower. When the grass is actively growing the mowing frequency may be every few days for grass maintained at 1-inch or every week for higher maintained grass. Compare this to golf greens which are mowed daily. 

What about pastures or low maintenance fields? Since you may be only cutting the grass as hay on pastures and then letting it grow back to its longest reach before cutting again, the grass will remain the same thickness.

 Why the One-Third Rule

The goal is to do the least amount of harm. Removing only a third of the grass blade at a time helps keep all the functions of the plant operating efficiently. If you maintain your grass at 2-inches but wait until it reaches 5-inches before mowing, you are removing well over half the blade. Remember, the first inch of grass above the soil surface is the crown identified as white in color. From the crown, grass blades grow upward and roots grow down into the soil. The action of cutting off too much tissue shocks the grass and this occurs at the expense of the roots. Root growth may stop all growth for a considerable time if too much of the blade is cut. If a drought sets in or a heat wave, your grass may suffer. 

I used to maintain my father-in-law’s grass for him. He would always insist that I mow it very low so it will take longer to grow back so less mowing is required. I am sure his intention was for me to do less work. I would tell him it is not healthy for the grass and I would just mow it more often. I have found over the years that many people think the same way. If this is your habit of mowing, what is happening is the grass puts all its energy into regrowing long blades and it never thickens. You eventually end up with a very weedy lawn and your grass is of very poor quality.

 Meaning of Scalping

Most people consider scalping as cutting too low exposing the white color of the grass crown. Most of the time the grass will recover, but may suffer if this is repeated too often. The definition of scalping is not only removing grass to the soil level, but includes removing too much tissue that causes an undesirable effect. An example is removing 4″ of grass blade length to bring it back to a 2″ height in a single cutting. This can still be considered scalping. As stated, it can shock the grass and force it to use stored nutrients to recover. The grass must then be forced to produce enough carbohydrates through photosynthesis alone to keep up with daily functions since its reserves may be partially depleted. 

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 How to Mow Overgrown Grass

If your goal is to take over-grown grass and bring it back to the proper height, this is one way to do it. Start by only cutting off a third of the blade length at a time. Wait for a few days and cut again only removing a third at a time until it reaches the desired height. In between mowings make sure you are irrigating as needed and paying close attention to the appearance of the grass. If there is a problem then halt the mowing until you investigate the cause. You should make sure your blades are sharp to shorten the healing time.

This idea of watching grass appearance is important. Most turf managers who regularly maintain at lower heights know grass is more stressed than higher maintained grass. The grass appearance after mowing, along with the grass color, weather, moisture and other factors affect the grass more quickly. The lowest maintained grass, which are golf greens for example, have short roots that can overheat so heat is a concern. The grass temperature is often taken (literally) and syringing with water is often performed to keep it cool. Diseases are more common on lower maintained grass. Daily mowing, heat stress, spoon feeding nutrients and disease occurrence are some reasons why Bentgrass is considered such a high maintenance grass.

 Exceptions to the Rule

Perennial Ryegrass: P. Ryegrass has proven to be, in some regards, an amazing grass. As a stand alone grass, its primary range is in the Transition Zone. But, it is the best grass in the south for growing in dormant Bermudagrass and on Bermudagrass golf greens.

You may be wondering how Perennial Ryegrass can be used on golf greens since they are maintained so low. Bermudagrass greens, like other varieties of Bermudagrass, go dormant and turn brown in the winter. In the summer months these greens can be mowed daily at 1/4″.  Perennial Ryegrass that is overseeded on greens in winter can be mowed at 1/2″ without harm to the grass (Dr. Nick Christians, Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management). 

Researchers do not know exactly why Perennial Ryegrass survives this low mowing, but it is the only one that can be used in this way. In the spring, even lower mowing to 1/3″or 1/4″ helps to remove the Perennial Ryegrass and the Bermudagrass greens take over again. 

Centipede Grass: Centipede grass starts to decline if not mowed. It thrives when it is maintained at lower heights. Mowing heights are from 1″ to 2″ (be sure to read your variety specifications) and if maintained higher this can lead to diminished quality.

 How Turf Formula® and SuperCal® Help

Turf Formula®and SuperCal® work together to make your soil better for plant growth. Aside from a natural increase in nutrients, disease pathogens are lowered. University of Missouri/Columbia found that 35% of Brown Patch Pathogens were reduced in 24-hours. Many of the soil microbes, such as protozoa, feed upon pathogenic microbes that infect plants. Pathogenic microbes can reach a threshold where disease pressure reaches the point of infection, but using Turf Formula® can help keep them under control.

This duo is sure to make a difference and improve your turf this growing year.

Russ James
AgriGro Turf Specialist

Question? Contact us. 




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Tips for the First Time Gardener

Gardening is one of those hobbies that once you start you never want to stop. It’s rewarding to grow fruits and vegetables and then serve them for dinner later on that evening. But we all know it can be intimidating to start something new. If you’ve never created your own garden before, this blog is for you. We’re here to help and cheer you on!

Getting Started

To get started you must first decide where you will plant your garden. Go out into your backyard and find the sun, watch for a few days and see which part of your yard gets the most sunlight. Most plants need between six to eight hours of sunlight each day to thrive.

Now if your yard is small or if you live in a city, you can still start a garden. You’ll want to determine the best spot to place your plants… on a balcony, front walkway, or even in a fish tank. There are many different ways to start an urban garden. But it’s important to pay attention to the sun, you want your plants to get adequate light to grow.

Pro Tip: Make sure your garden hose can reach your garden site.

When to Start Planting

You can start planting your garden as soon as the soil is workable. You’ll notice in some parts of the country where cold lingers, it may be April until you can start this process. But in warmer regions, that could be as soon as late February or March. You do not want the dirt to be frozen. Even if temperatures drop below freezing, the soil should crumble with a gentle touch.

If you’re creating an urban garden using containers or pots, place them on concrete, a driveway, or against a brick wall. This will help them gather more heat.

Prep Your Soil, Seeds & Bulbs

Before you place any seeds or bulbs into the ground you want to make sure your soil is prepped. Having healthy soil is where it all begins. Start by using compost in your garden. Mix an equal amount of food scraps and yard waste. This will ensure you have a good balance in your compost.

Then, use Ultra® to support the beneficial microbial life in the soil and plant. Ultra® is a 100% organic, environmentally safe prebiotic that contains macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates that benefit both the soil and plant production and health. It is simple to use and can be applied to the soil, seed, roots, and plant foliage to maximize growth and production.

What Should You Plant?

If you’re starting your garden in late winter or early spring, start with salad greens.

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Mesclun mixes
  • Spinach

These plants will sprout when the soil is around 55-degrees and many can be harvested within 30 to 60-days. Now, salad greens will not thrive during cold snaps but they won’t die unless the temperature falls below 28-degrees.

Onions: They are another great option to plant in late winter or early spring. They are a hardy plant and can survive a hard frost. You can start with buying seeds and begin growing them indoors. Then transplant them to your garden once you see “little spikes” sticking out of the seeds.

Carrots: While they can be planted when the ground is colder, carrots do prefer warmer temperatures. So we suggest waiting until at least the second month of spring and temperatures are warm during the day and cool at night. To plant, scatter seeds in rows. It’s important to remember, carrots will only grow as large as you give them the space to grow. So don’t put the seeds too close to each other.

Tomatoes: This plant enjoys warmth. If you want to plant your own tomatoes from seeds, start them indoors within eight weeks of your final frost date. Then, transplant them outside into your garden.

Don’t Forget the Mulch

If you’re growing your garden in your backyard, you want to provide a barrier for your plants. Mulch is an excellent barrier for your plants. You can count on it to keep moisture inside the soil, overpower weeds, regulate soil temperature, and create a beautiful garden! To save money and help the planet, you can even make your own mulch.

Water & GRO

To see your garden thrive, you want to water regularly. Place the hose on top of the mulched garden and let the water seep about 2-inches into the ground. Then move it around your garden to ensure the water evenly gets to each plant.

Use Super-Cal to create strong soil structure and plant health. Nothing can replace the role of calcium in your garden. It is vital for your plants to be able to develop and grow properly. Super-Cal is a proprietary blend of natural organic acids that work in the soil to break down tied-up calcium/lime deposits and convert them to an available form that plants can utilize.

Now you have the insight you need to create a beautiful garden. Ready to get started? We believe in you! Shop the line now and GRO your garden!




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SOURCES:
Phillips, K. (2017). The Concrete Garden: How to start growing your own in the city. Alternatives Journal, 43(2), 30+.
STONE, A. (2017). Don’t Wait on Winter Waning. Countryside & Small Stock Journal, 101(2), 20–23.