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Late spring or early summer is a great time to apply compost to your newly aerated and seeded lawns. Compost applications enrich your soil and enable your turf to grow and flourish; compost applications (also known as top-dressing) are an essential part of organic lawn care and make your grass gorgeous and green! If you haven’t seen our May Newsletter, we’ve outlined all you need to know about compost applications and your lawn right here (the why, the what, and the how!):

Why should I use compost on my lawn? Integrating compost applications into your lawn care regimen is necessary for achieving healthy, nutrient-rich soil and growing turf that is strong, lush, and free of weeds and bare spots. In order to have a healthy, green, and beautiful lawn, you must have healthy soil! Compost top-dressing is most effective when your turf has first been aerated, enabling the compost to saturate and fertilize your soil with organic nutrients a nd microbes. Compost top-dressing also breaks down thatch build-up, neutralizes your soil’s pH, and increases your soil’s water retention.

What kind of compost should I use on my lawn? Compost, in general, is made of all organic and biodegradable materials; many compost mixes contain ordinary household food waste (like eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable scraps), while others contain wood chips, leaves, and other organic matter and yard waste. At ecoLogical Lawn Care, we have developed a unique Compost Tea that’s specially engineered to achieve the very best results in soil nutrition and biofertility. Our freshly brewed Compost Tea is teeming with microbial life and is mixed with humates, vitamins, amino acids, and an abundance of other organic nutrients. We recommend five applications of our Compost Tea a year: the first, third, and fifth Compost Tea applications (applied May, July, and September) also contain fish hydrosylate, humic acid, molasses, and cold water kelp extract for an extra boost of biofertility; the second and fourth applications (applied in June and August) contain just our original Compost Tea formula. It’s truly a recipe for a thick, lush, and weed-free lawn!

- How is compost applied to my lawn? After aeration (aeration ensures your turf’s absorption of fertilizer), we apply our Compost Tea directly to our customers’ lawns using our amazing, eco-friendly top-dressing machine called the— you guessed it— Top-dresser (pictured below)! This state-of-the-art motorized top-dresser spreads our highly concentrated, nutrient-dense Compost Tea evenly throughout your lawn to feed the soil and lock-in moisture. Along with aeration and slit sleeding, top-dressing helps to ensure that your grass grows into a healthy, sustainable, and beautiful turf.

 

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Lately, there has been a lot of talk over the ash beetle invasion that recently struck the Boulder, Colorado area last September. The non-native, bright green emerald ash borer only preys on ash trees (hence its colloquial name ash beetle), and once an ash tree is infested with these little guys, there is practically no hope for survival.

On the surface, these beetles seem like your typical, destructive pests; but what adds an interesting layer to this dilemma is the fact that they’re not the only non-native species that’s involved here. Ironically, the ash trees that are currently growing here in Colorado are also a non-native species like the ash beetle, and they were purposely planted here (and will continue to be– about a million of them through year 2025) in order to introduce more shade into our sunny state. The point is, although we keep deliberately planting them, the ash trees– just like the ash beetle– aren’t really supposed to be here, either. 

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So what’s the problem?

Well, studies predict that this new invasive ash beetle population will end up killing off tens of thousands of ash trees in Colorado… all while the state spends enormous funds (which are projected to eventually amount to millions of dollars) on ineffective chemical treatments that attempt to “mitigate” the ash beetle population and reverse the damage caused by the critters in already infested ash trees. Unfortunately, these chemical treatments and insecticidal tree-injections cannot save these trees, nor can they possibly kill off all of the beetles; the only remedy that works is the removal of the infested ash tree altogether. We can’t help but feel sorry for all of the ash trees (which are supposed to be thriving) and demonize the ash beetles for being such stubborn pests, but we must remember that what’s happening is also just nature.

Thus, the real problem is not the havoc of the ash beetle. Rather, the true problem is that we keep continuing to plant new ash trees to replace the already dead and dying ones (which is frankly a waste of money, time, and resources), and we keep poisoning our ecosystem with pointless pesticides and insecticides that aren’t really working. Seven months later after the ash beetle invasion, we find ourselves stuck in a sort of cyclical war between the ash tree and the ash beetle, pouring all of our efforts into constant planting, pesticide-injecting, removing, and re-planting. It’s as if we are just luring the ash beetles with fresh bait over and over again, and many feel that these measures we’ve been taking to eradicate the ash beetle have proven to be overwhelmingly futile and wasteful.

But is there an alternative solution?

A solution: not quite. But a suggestion for how we can cope: yes. Many Colorado citizens propose and agree that it is more financially and environmentally ethical to first stop trying to save the ash trees that are already infested by the ash beetle, and to also stop planting new ones for the ash beetles to just inevitably gobble up again. In reality, if an ash tree has ash beetles living inside of it, then it must be accepted that the tree will eventually die. Toxic pesticide and insecticide treatments are very costly and are highly unsuccessful in reversing the ash beetles’ infestation of an ash tree. Not to mention, these synthetic chemicals are dangerous for our environment and health. Also, the “preemptive removal” of healthy ash trees, as well as the removal of beetle-ridden ones, lacks logic– why would we invest in the removal of all of these ash trees if we are also simultaneously investing in a project to plant almost a million new ones? In other words, why keep planting ash trees and feeding the beetles?

Ultimately, the idea of letting nature run its course and choosing acceptance over combativeness exists. We can choose to stop injecting pesticides and insecticides into our environment and ecosystem and stop planting new ash trees to cover-up the dead ones. Believe it or not, having dead ash trees around us is not the end of the world. We can always use the dead ash trees as firewood and scrap wood, and perhaps even launch a campaign to repurpose the dead ash trees in the Boulder community. We must also keep in mind that, when left alone, dead ash trees create more natural habitat for wildlife. So why not, for now, just let the ash beetles have the ash trees that are already planted here, and let the birds have plenty of beetles to eat in the meantime? There is no need to be so ashamed of the ash beetle, in our opinion.

 

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Images:

www.emeraldashborer.wordpress.com

www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Sources:

www.dailycamera.com/lifestyles/ci_24402821/emerald-ash-borer-tree-monster

www.dailycamera.com/letters/ci_24206188/bill-weber-ash-trees-invasive-beetle-is-blessing

www.dailycamera.com/guest-opinions/ci_25588139/how-deal-ash-beetle

 

 

 

 

From: Fieldnotes from Fatherhood

To help make your and your family’s Easter a little bit greener, we wanted to share this awesomely creative and eco-friendly idea for dying eggs this weekend. Using natural dyes is a great alternative to using the store-bought dye tablets or powders, and the project of natural egg-dying itself is a very sustainable one (zero artificial chemicals and zero waste!). We encourage you all to use fresh, organic, cage-free eggs for dying (and eating!) and organic produce as well to make your homemade Easter egg dyes (head to your local farmer’s market to buy all of your ingredients, if you can!). Next, embark outdoors to pick some wildflowers and any other foliage that is small enough to fit on the surface of an eggshell— the more “defined” your flowers and leaves are, the better (think daisy versus dandelion… Plus, the honeybees need the dandelions!). You will also need an old pair of pantyhose (you’ll see…).

 

Here’s what your Easter eggs will end up looking like:

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… AMAZING!!!

And here’s how to do it!

First, prepare your all-natural dyes. Fill a number of pots with just enough water to cover your eggs, then add your fresh ingredients (a.k.a. your groceries).

Here’s a color-key for which natural foods will yield which colors of the rainbow:

- Onion skins will give you a rich rust-brown color, redder if you use a combination of yellow and red onions.

- Red cabbage produces a grayish-blue color.

- Turmeric powder give a deep orange-yellow. Add about 4 tablespoons per pot.

- Beets will make your eggs a light red/pink.

- Spinach, as you may have guessed, produces green eggs! The more spinach you add to your water, the darker the color.

Don’t hesitate to experiment! Try green apple peels, fruit teas, orange or lemon peels, frozen berries, etc.

Boil your ingredients in covered pots for about 30 minutes, then set aside and allow to cool. When fully cool, strain the different colored liquids into bowls (be sure to press the liquid out of the solids), and then return the liquids to their original, rinsed pots. Compost the solids!

 

Now for the dying and decorating process (you may need to step in and help the kiddos with the first pantyhose part):

-  Take some old pantyhose and cut them into 4-inch strips.

- Place your leaves and flowers one by one on an egg (some things stick better if you dip them in water first).

- Take a strip of pantyhose, place the egg on it, then pull the hose around the surface of the egg tightly, making sure everything is still in place, and secure it with a twist tie or a piece of string, trimming off excess hose. Do this for all of your eggs.

- Bring your dyes (which have already been strained and returned to their original, rinsed pots) to a gentle boil, and add 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar to each one.

- Gently lower your eggs into whichever color you want (careful, the dyes will be hot!) and making sure that the dye covers each egg completely. If not, add just enough water to do so.

- Boil eggs for about 30 minutes, then set aside to cool. The longer you leave the eggs in their dyes, the deeper the colors will be!

- Remove the eggs carefully from the dyes, undo the ties, and let the kids slip the pantyhose, flowers, and leaves off the eggs. If you want the eggs to be shiny, take a paper towel with a bit of olive oil (or coconut oil, or whatever healthy oil you have on hand) on it and gently rub each egg.

You’re done! And now you’ve got really cool, eco-friendly Easter eggs to hide, put on display, and eat! You’ve also taught your kids that you can do amazing projects just by going out and finding things in nature, and that not everything – in this case the dyes – has to come from the store!

Happy Easter!

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Source:

www.fieldnotesfromfatherhood.com/2014/03/28/how-to-make-super-groovy-all-natural-easter-eggs/

Sources: Pesticide Action Network and Environmental Protection Agency

As April flowers begin to pop up all around our yards and gardens, you may also begin to hear the blissful, melodious buzz of the honeybees. . . bzzzz! It’s truly the sound of spring, and it makes us happy!

bees_4The latest buzz that’s going around about bees, however, is causing us all great concern.

Honeybees are the most economically and agriculturally important pollinators in the whole world, yet their population has been declining severely since the 1990s. In fact, in just the U.S. alone, commercial beekeepers have been reporting up to a 36% decrease in their managed bee populations year after year. Scientists finally attributed this steady depletion in bee population to a phenomenon they named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in 2006. The culprits behind this dilemma? Studies have shown that this growing rate of bee deaths is mainly due to pesticide poisoning, pathogens and diseases, environmental stress, and habitat loss.

So, why save the bees?

Because, believe it or not, out of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food supply (that’s a lot of food!) over 70 of these crops are pollinated by bees. In other words, 1/3 of the food that we see on our plates each meal is from a bee-pollinated plant. Bees are absolutely essential to our agricultural system and to the cultivation and production of numerous fruits, vegetables, and field crops.

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How you can help save the bees -  While there are several organizations that are working hard to combat CCD and improve pollinators’ protection from pesticides (such as the EPA and the USDA CCD Steering Committee), we can all help in our own ways to save our honeybees.

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- Plant lots of flowers and herbs to attract honeybee colonies. We love lavender and geraniums, but you can find the full list here.

- Let your dandelions feed the bees! It is very important to NOT remove your dandelions until AFTER they have bloomed and their flowers have gone. Dandelion flowers are honeybees’ main source of protein and are necessary for their survival, so please leave them for the bees! To learn more, check out this excellent letter from Boulder resident Gabriele Sattler entitled, “Don’t poison our pollinators that we saw in this week’s Boulder Daily Camera.

- Say NO to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Choose organic lawn care and protect not only your kids and pets from exposure to toxic chemicals, but also protect the bees from pesticide poisoning as well! Eliminating chemical treatments from your lawn, trees, and plants eliminates the possibility for many serious and/or fatal health problems and illnesses to attack the species of our ecosystem.

- If you ever find a honeybee habitat on your property, please give us, ecoLogical Lawn and Tree Care, a call right away at 303-444-3456. Leslie Ratica, a local Boulder beekeeper, specializes in sustainable honeybee colony maintenance and will gladly come to your property to extract and re-home any swarms and/or hives upon request.

 

Now that it is March and daylight savings time has kicked in (hello, extra hour of sunshine!), it finally feels like spring is upon us. As the weather continues to get warmer and warmer and melt away our last few Colorado “snow days,” it’s finally time to start preparing ourselves for the grass to turn greener and the flowers to bloom!

Besides embarking on your spring cleaning to-do list, we recommend that you also get a start on your spring lawn care to-do list. But after hibernating all winter long and subsequently putting our backyards on the back burner, where do we begin when it comes to prepping our lawns for the new season?

To make things a little less daunting, we’ve narrowed the spring lawn care to-do list down to three basic essentials to keep in mind so that you can ensure your lawn is healthy, beautiful, and chemical-free for you and your family (and your pets, too!) to enjoy in 2014.

Grab the rake! – In order to get a good look at your lawn and assess if there are any patchy areas or regions that will require some special attention (keep an eye out for any fungus, moss, or snow mold), you will need to clean up any remaining winter debris, mulch, and/or dead foliage. You will also need to remove any protective coverings (such as tarps) around your yard, shrubs, and garden beds.

Aeration is key! – After your lawn is tidied up, the next essential step on your to-do list should be having your lawn de-thatched and thoroughly aerated. Aeration will allow nutrients, water, air, and sunlight to enter compacted soils and enrich your lawn’s root zone, which will enable your grass to grow lush and green! In organic lawn care, aeration is absolutely necessary in order to have a healthy and weed-free lawn.

core                                        Photo: simplygreenlawncare.com

Time to seed! – After aeration, your lawn will be ready for seeding and organic bio-fertility treatments (we recommend several applications of our microbial-rich, fresh-brewed Compost Tea). Slit seeding is a process where 1/4-inch slits are cut into the soil before grass seed is dropped, enabling the seeds to have better contact with the soil.  Slit seeding, along with bio-fertility treatments and aeration, is the best way to guarantee healthy germination of grass seed and a gorgeous, green lawn that is free of toxic pesticides.

 

Please feel free to visit us online at http://www.ecologicallawncare.com or call us at 303-444-3456 to request a free estimate on any of our spring 2014 season services. Happy Spring!

mowerFrom SprinklerJuice.com

With Fall on its way out and Winter just around the corner, it’s time to pack away the lawn mower and bust out the snow blower!

If you have not done so already, it’s time to get your lawn mower ready for winter storage. You want to take the time to properly winterize your mower now so that it works properly when you are ready to rev it up again in the spring.

You may think winterizing your mower means parking it in the shed (if you have a shed) until baseball season rolls around again. You’ll want to do a little more than that.

Pick up some gasoline stabilizer. It won’t cost much but it will pay off for your mower. Gas that sits in a mower’s tank all winter long can clog the carburetor. The ensuing repair job will cost a lot more than that fuel stabilizer. For every two-and-a-half gallons of gas in the tank, add one gallon of an ethanol-capable gas stabilizer.

Change the oil. This will help extend the life of the mower’s engine.

If you have a riding mower, try and charge the battery periodically during the winter months. Start the mower and let it run for several minutes.

Consider scraping the grass clippings from the underside of the mower deck after the final mow of the season. This will help prevent rust.

Make sure to store your mower in a clean, dry place.

Once your mower is ready for winter, it’s time to think about getting your snow blower ready for action.

Make sure you’ve changed the oil at least once during the last year. It’s a good idea to start the snow blower season with fresh oil and gasoline. If you have questions about your snow blower’s specific engine-type, check the owner’s manual.

Check to see if any nuts or bolts need to be tightened. The vibration of the snow blower can cause nuts and bolts to loosen, especially on the control linkage.

Check the belts on your blower to make sure there is no cracking or fraying. Make sure the augers and runners are correctly adjusted and in good shape. Check the air in the tires. Tires can get soft or flat over the summer.

There’s your checklist! You’ll be ready to brave winter in no time.

 

Source:

Sprinkler Juice Blog

 

 

 

leaf rakeFrom Sprinkler Juice

Winter is a couple months away but there is still time for fall gardening. Some of the things you do now can have year-long benefits. Think about getting to work on your garden before you have to think about getting out the snow shovel.

 

Check for discounts. Lots of stores are still offering sales on summer items as they begin to fill the shelves with winter tools. This is the time for look for discounts on seeds and some plants. You might also get good prices on lawn and gardening equipment.

 

Plant bulbs for spring flowers. This is still a good time to plant bulbs for irises, tulips and crocuses. Plant bulbs while temperatures are still in the forties and fifties but before the ground freezes.

 

Build a compost. You can use items like raked leaves and shredded twigs.

 

Add mulch to your garden bed. A few inches of mulch will help moisture levels throughout the fall and winter and will help suppress weed growth.

 

Fertilize your lawn. You may have put away your mower but grass is still growing under the soil. Phosphorus-rich fertilizer will help will help strengthen roots.

 

Pack up the sprinkler system. It might be time to dry out your sprinkler system and store it to prevent winter damage.

 

Check your soil. You may want to add fresh soil before winter.

 

You can also do actual gardening. Some plants thrive in the cooler temperatures. Consider planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. You’ll just need to keep the snow off the crops and make sure the ground is not frozen for an extended period of time. You should also consider getting rid of spring and summer plants that are no longer producing good vegetables.

 

 

Some of what you do now will make for a greener garden once spring arrives.

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