Growing a community at the Grange

Growing a community at the Grange

Reborn Mt. Lookout Grange thrives as a space for events
Grange addresses garden needs

By Mary Shinn
The Cortez Journal
The Grange works to educate the community on a variety of agricultural topics.
At an upcoming workshop, Grange members plan to address building soil by composting.
Gardening with compost can be affordable way to help reduce the need for herbicides and pesticides by improving plant health.
Here are some simple ways to get started from Gretchen Groenke, community health organizer.
The basic heap
The most basic strategy is a compost heap with greens that are high in nitrogen and browns high in carbon.
The greens can be any fresh organic waste such as grass clippings and food. Carbons can be dried leaves or cardboard.
Flipping the pile and adding worms - specifically, red wigglers - can speed up the decomposition process.
Composting in place
Another strategy is to build topsoil within a garden - sheet mulching. Start with a layer of cardboard, followed by a layer of manure, followed by straw or leaves.
The cardboard should completely cover the soil to prevent grasses and other weeds from coming through.
'With our clay soils, and our really dry climate, we need to mulch our gardens,' Groenke said.
Before using manure in a garden, it is important to make sure the animals were not eating hay that had been sprayed by herbicide because it could prevent broad leaf plants from growing.
Winter composting
A worm bin inside can keep worms alive and build up a store of soil to use in the spring, said Judith Selby, who is going to be selling composting worms locally.
Red wigglers, commonly used for composting, will not survive a winter in this area unless the compost is huge or heated. But it can be a clean and scentless endeavor. Adding shredded paper can help keep the bin from getting slimy and smelly.
If it starts to smell
It is likely that the balance of carbon materials and nitrogen materials is off.
The compost pile might also need to be aerated. When there is no oxygen in compost, the anaerobic bacteria can create a smelly situation.
A soil-building workshop will be held at the Mancos Public library on Saturday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
mshinn@cortezjournal.com

Growing a community at the Grange

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