Organic Gardening – Tree Care

Trees are an essential part of your home’s curb appeal and one of the most expensive investments in your landscape. Organic gardening techniques and maintenance can ensure that your investment stays healthy and anchors your organic garden for many years to come.

First, as always, ensure that the tree you choose is right for your region. Native trees or trees that have adapted well would be the best choice. Also check with your local nursery on the expected size and maintenance needed for the tree you want to plant. You don’t want to plant a tree that will need to be removed someday because it grows too big and becomes a hazard to your home or your foundation. Additionally, you don’t want to choose a tree that requires more water than your region and area can easily provide.

The most common mistake with trees comes next – planting the tree. Most trees are planted too deeply and this causes the roots to girdle around the base of the tree and eventually become diseased and die. You want to ensure that the flare at the base of the tree is visible just above the soil line. If the tree trunk goes straight into the soil, you’ve planted your tree too deeply.

So you’ve finished planted the tree and now you want to ring it with pretty plants. No problem – just give the tree at least 18 inches between the tree trunk and the plant’s roots to ensure healthy trees and plants.

Tree care and maintenance is still needed as trees mature. Aeration of the soil and the grass around the tree helps the lawn and the trees. Adding Horticultural Cornmeal to the soil throughout the growing season keeps the tree healthy and looking good even in the hottest days of the year.

Your exposed tree flare can also become covered up over time with mulch, ground cover or soil added after planting. Check the base of your trees at the beginning of the growing season, later in summer and then at the start of fall to ensure the flare is exposed. You can move the soil by hand and cut back encroaching ground cover as needed.

Seaweed foliar spray can help minimize the impact of rust on the leaves, spider mites or other diseases but these only show up in trees that are stressed so it usually a symptom of a systemic issue that can be resolved by reviewing these steps and getting back to the basics of tree care in your organic garden.

Susan LaRocca has experience in landscaping and organic gardening in the Dallas, Texas area. Learn more about organic gardening by visiting her blog

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Start Organic Rose Gardening

Organic rose gardening is something a lot of people are trying. It’s not that much different than chemical growing. There are lots of different organic products that are on the market that can be used with roses. There are also organic things that you can use around your house to make an organic compost.

Humus is something that is produced when making organic compost. It is an organic substance that can be made at home to help with any soil problems. Humus can help with ph balancing of the soil and help if the soil is a bit too sandy. Humus is not difficult to make and I would suggest starting as soon as you know you want to start organic rose gardening. You would then take the humus and mix it in with your soil.

How to Make Compost

Compost that has been thoroughly composted contains lots of humus. Humus is very good for organic rose gardening, actually good for any kind of gardening.

To make compost you mix some household organic waste and yard waste into a compost bin or pile and then you would provide the best conditions for the composition. Inside the compost bin is where all the microscopic organisms, known as bacteria and fungi, will then feed on your compost and recycle it. This process will make a rich organic fertilizer for your organic rose garden.

In order for the micro-organisms to live, you must add some water to your compost bin. Adding the water is kind of tricky just because you will have to find the happy medium. If you add too much then it will turn into a swampy mess and not turn into what you want, but if you don’t add enough water then the microbes could die. As a general rule, you want your compost pile to be moist, but not soaked. Ideally having a 3’x3’x3′ compost pile will make easier to rotate the pile when needed. By rotating you ensuring everything gets recycled.

A good compost temperature is in between 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the best “cooking” temperature for the compost because these are the temperatures that kill almost all the plant diseases and weed seeds. As the compost starts to get broken down you will notice that the pile will get smaller. Usually the end result is about 60-70 percent smaller then the original pile.

Adding to your compost pile or bin

If you start to add more to the bin, do notpush the pile down as it will push out all the air that the microbes need to do their work. When adding to the pile, try to have a plan. You want to give the compost a balanced diet. After you throw your organic kitchen waste in the bin, throw in some garden/yard greens. By doing this you will help keep smells down and everything balanced.

Your compost is done when you can not pick out any of the ingredients that was added to the pile. It should look dark, rich, and it should crumble easily in your hand. The compost should also smell earthy and sweet. If these are not the characteristics you see in your compost pile/bin then it needs more time to “cook”.

Now that you have your organic compost ready for you rose garden, you can now start organic rose gardening. Typically most people mix the organic waste into the soil before the planting their rose garden. You may also sprinkle the matter on the top of the soil as, but then water to help the nutrients in the compost to get deep down into the soil. I encourage you to take a look at composting101 if you have any more questions regarding composting.

Landy Centeno is a rose gardening enthusiast. For more information on organic rose gardening, please visit

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