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Dirty Movie We Found

Information on topsoil may not be what you were thinking of when you read this headline. Topsoil is vital to keep the world green. Visit a Beach or Desert and you can see the affects of no topsoil. Little or nothing grows.

What the movie maker says

Dirt feeds us and gives us shelter. Dirt holds and cleans our water. Dirt heals us and makes us beautiful. Dirt regulates the earth’s climate. Dirt is the ultimate natural resource for all life on earth.

Yet most humans ignore, abuse, and destroy our most precious living natural resource.Consider the results of such behavior: mass starvation, drought, floods, and global warming, and wars. If we continue on our current path, Dirt might find another use for humans, as compost for future life forms.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Another world, in which we treat dirt with the respect it deserves, is possible and we’ll show you how.

The film offers a vision of a sustainable relationship between Humans and Dirt through profiles of the global visionaries who are determined to repair the damage we’ve done before it’s too late. There are many ways we can preserve the living skin of the earth for future generations. If you care about your food, water, the air you breathe enjoy it.

For more information go to there website Dirt the Movie. It is a dirty movie for everyone

Burnt Grass SpotsDead-Grass-Pet-Urine-Burns

Your pet has his or her favorite places to do his business. Your lawn and bushes provide a road map of those favorite places. What to do? Let’s begin with the assumption that it’s going to happen, and no amount of repellant or attempts at reasoning will change the fact that it has to happen somewhere.

It’s about the nitrogen.

A popular misconception is that the urination causes a ph imbalance, but while that may be possible in either direction given the particular diet of your pet, it’s not what causes the brown spots. Urine is concentrated nitrogen — very concentrated — and it can build up to toxic levels rather quickly. The other toxic substance being eliminated from the body is excess salt, which we all know is bad for plants. Female dogs cause more damage only because they tend to void on one spot rather than “marking territory” and as such thwe effects are more pronounced.

So what can you do?

There are options especially as you understand better what is going on

  • If you know where and when it is happening use your hose and dilute it with a good drench.
  • Make your soil looser so the urine passes more quickly to lower soil levels where it can be broken down. You can do this by spading the area in question and adding some perlite, coarse sand, or small gravel. Place four inches of topsoil over the looser mixture and re-seed.
  • Use resistant grass varieties. The old standard Kentucky Blue or Bermuda are particularly susceptible to urine. Varieties that can take it better are Fescue and Perennial Rye grass.
  • Use gypsum. Gypsum has a unique buffering ability, and will cure lots of soil toxicities including road salt and urine. Work it into the top soil before seeding in generous quantities, and then apply it as a top dress before watering several times during the season, especially in the affected areas.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar on the “bathroom area”, this will attract earthworms which will further aerate the soil allowing the urine to be carried below the roots more quickly.
  • Get you dog to drink more water so you dilute the source.
  • If a lawn is fertilized a lot the extra nitrogen can push the balance to a level that it kills the grass. So with less fertilizer the dog will create less burning

Fish-Tank-Dog-ReplacementShort of replacing Rover with a fish tank, this is most of what I know relative to curative and preventative measures. We’ll go into some of the other common lawn issues when the weather heats up and your brown spots start to show up. Write me if you want to start on preventing common lawn issues early. Keep on growing. If you liked this information you may want to visit this site for other articles from Uncle Buck.

Topsoil Erosion

Preserving plants can start at home with your efforts to prevent and control erosion.

There are a number of worldwide issues that are out of our direct control:  nuclear proliferation, medical care, global warming, the end of oil, over-population, under-population, famine, collisions with asteroids, disease, and Wall Street greed.

Closer to home and more controllable is soil conservation to prevent loss of your topsoil and dirt. A recent book describes what has happened historically and is going on now in your backyard.  This is the subject of "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations," by David R. Montgomery, a professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington.

Your dirt usually isn't something that most of us spend much time thinking about; it’s just there. The fact is, we live on a very rocky globe with the topsoil and dirt component being just the top layer that has been formed from rock. This rock, over very long periods of time with weathering, naturally breaks down under the elements. When the conditions are right, this broken-down rock is small enough to mix with organic matter and turns into dirt. Over time, layers of topsoil can be created with varying depths and qualities all over the globe. This humble dirt is what makes life on earth possible, by being a growing medium for plants that start the food chain.

Montgomery points out certain principles of dirt that should be more or less obvious, but are very easy to forget as we move further away from the land.  For example, new dirt is always being created, but the process takes a very, very long time -- millennia, in fact.

Dirt flows down hill. Even minimally-sloping land that is well-protected by groundcover or forest undergoes very gradual erosion. Exposed tree roots in a sloped yard can be due to the effect of rain hitting the soil and splashing the dirt away. Singularly, it is a small effect, but builds up over time. Earthworms bring fresh dirt to the surface; rain and wind move it down hill. But the pace of this kind of erosion is so slow that often a natural equilibrium develops between soil loss and soil production. This factor alone creates the need to buy topsoil to replace what is lost.

Poorly-managed cultivation speeds up this process exponentially. When land is plowed and exposed to the elements, it blows and washes away much more quickly. Famous pictures of how this happened in the Depression Dust Bowl times are very graphic (Link to pictures).  Even gradually-sloped land will lose dirt at a rate far beyond the ability of natural soil production processes to replace it. If you have lived in your home for a while and look at your lawn, you will see evidence of this on slopes or where gutters overflow.

Red Mulch Promotes Growth

There are interesting studies about red mulch promoting plant growth. University studies of plastic mulch indicate that red plastic mulch can enhance tomato growth. If you like red mulch, what have you got to lose in trying it? We sell red wood mulch and feel that the effect should be similar.

What the Red Does

Reflective red light coming back up from the mulch tricks plants into growing more and producing greater yields. This reflected morphogenic light bounces back up to the plant. This creates the effect of additional incoming sunlight for photosynthesis that stimulates increased fruit production. (link) The study looked at temperature and moisture control of the mulch and found it was the same, so it must have been the color of the mulch promoting greater crop growth.

Others speculate that the plant reacts to this increased red light wave as if there are other plants nearby that they are competing with. This perceived competition for light, water and nutrients causes the plants to release a chemical that triggers growth.  Plants respond by redirecting more of their energy into above-ground growth, leading to higher yields.  Initial reports claimed that red mulch increased yields by 15 to 20 percent. It does not matter if it is pure chemistry or reaction to competition; there does seem to be an effect. Tomatoes, in particular, appear to be partial to red mulch, although growth rates and yields for all sorts of plants can be improved by using this mulch product.

How We Make the Mulch Red

The color is derived from oxides that occur naturally all around us. It is a combination of oxygen and ore called iron oxide. It is found in 5 percent of the earth’s crust. It is not a solvent-based material that contaminates the soil. The formulation of the colorant is selected to create the various hues of red. This is added to the mulch in our mixing vats in just enough volume to get the color. The addition of colorant helps hide the natural fading of the mulch over time.

Spring is Close

Spring is not here yet, but clearly the soil temperature is rising and the frost is out of the ground. Looking around, there are a number of signs that Spring is not far off.

Up in Woodbury, Connecticut, there are a number of witch hazel bushes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch-hazel) blooming and it’s only Thursday, the 4th of March. It is always interesting to see how plants adapt to be able to survive even though they will probably be exposed to heavy freezing late in the year and still bloom this early. (Include picture)

The frost is out of the soil for sure when you see robins back in the fields pulling worms out of the grass. (Picture) As a side note, I have always found it interesting that the robins are here year-round but we just don’t see them as much. How they do that has always been a puzzle.  You can find more information at the fat robin bird store (http://www.fatrobin.com/).

Visiting one house in Durham, it was great to see the daffodils pushing up out of the mulch bed, getting ready to provide spring color. (Picture)

A sure sign of early warming of the soil is the sap now flowing in the maple trees.  Maple sugar time is starting up with the plastic hoses hung and the buckets filling up with sap flowing from the tree roots up the trunk. With the soil temperature being above freezing, the maple sap can flow within the tree.  The process of this sap flowing is caused by changes in temperature that occur in the spring thaw. Warm soil temperature and the nighttime freezing temperature create the flow up the maple tree trunk which is then collected and boiled down to sugar.  One large Connecticut producer of maple syrup is Woodbury Sugarshed and other genearal information about sugaring in the area is available at http://www.litchfield.com/features/sugaring.html



And locally down the road is Maple Grove Farm (http://www.workingtheland.com/links_maple_nh.htm) where the local trees are tapped for syrup and you can find a wood-fired evaporator in action as well as get some delicious syrup on the spot.

So, as the frost comes out of the ground and the plants are stirring to life, get ready for Spring planting and flowers. We have been visiting growers to select colorful annuals to offer this year when the planting season starts. We will add some Spring flower pictures soon in case you are in the Spring mood as the soil here in Connecticut warms up.

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