I’m about to start my first compost pile. What can I put in it? – E. A. — Arkansas
You can compost anything that was once a plant or tree. What you shouldn’t compost are meat, fish or cooked food. The one exception to this rule is that you can compost eggshells. Otherwise, great compost is all about the right balance of ingredients. You need to get the right balance of green and brown waste. Green waste (or “wet” material) can be kitchen scraps and plant material. Brown waste (or “dry” material) is paper, cardboard, autumn leaves, and woody material. Shred, tear or rip up your waste into small pieces and layer green and brown alternately in the pile. The best balance is a mixture of one-third green to two-thirds brown. This is not always possible with the waste you have on hand, but just try not to add too much of one thing. Keep in mind however that perfectly good compost can be achieved by chucking it all in a pile and leaving it to rot. It will take longer to create the finished product but you will eventually have usable compost.
What landscape trees would work well for small gardens? My garden is less than one-fourth of an acre. – B. H. – Georgia
It seems like we are all gardening in small spaces these days. Whatever happened to buying a house and getting a sprawling backyard for the kids to play in. Even my own garden is on a little less than an acre of land. Here is a short list of small scale trees. I have a few of these myself and wish I had room to have them all.
- Japanese snowbell
- Dwarf gingko
- Smoke tree
- Fringe tree
- Blue Point Juniper
- Dwarf Conifers
- Korean Dogwood
The community I live in has severe watering restrictions. How can I garden with less water? –J. S. – Oklahoma
First of all let me stress the importance of contacting your city hall to find out the exact day and time of day you are allowed to water. Some counties will issue a pretty hefty fine for misuse of city water.
Here are a few water saving suggestions:
- Use watering cans and buckets to water your plants. You will use much less water this way and keep it directly on your plants. Keep your cans and buckets outside and they will fill with rainwater that can then be dumped on your thirsty plants.
- Attach rain barrels with hose bibs to your gutter downspouts. Make use of rainwater from your roof. You will not believe how much water comes off of your roof in an average rainstorm.
- At the plant nursery, pick out drought tolerant plants.
- I cannot stress enough, the need to plant shrubs, trees, and flowers, in the right place, in your garden. For example, if a plant is a shade loving plant, it will be stressed in the sun and therefore need much more water to survive.
- Remove the golf course from your front yard! In essence, make your lawn smaller. Turf grass is a water guzzler. Most of the water we all use outside our home is mostly for grass. Put more shrub borders in your garden and enlarge the shrub borders you have now. Decrease the amount of your grassy areas.
- Stop pruning during the hottest months. Pruning encourages a plant to put on more growth, which in turn increases its need for water. Put down those clippers!
- Attach a cut off valve to your garden hose. If you choose to water with your hose, keep your finger on the valve for a quick cut off of water from one plant to another.
- Use soaker hoses instead of sprinklers for less water evaporation. Soaker hoses let you put the water right at the plant’s roots.