Hot Composting with a GEOBIN

There are many different methods of composting and there are many different commercially available composters that help you to get that work done.  In this post, we review the GEOBIN composting system for its ease of setup, functionality and overall success at making compost.  If you are new to gardening and want to learn more about composting or you are looking for different alternatives to compost, then read on.

 

composting with GEOBIN

Last year, here at the Plant King Blog, we purchased our first GEOBIN system from Amazon for $34.99.  We were so pleased with the success of making compost that we bought a second one this year. It is one of the least expensive and largest capacity composting bins on the market today. The GEOBIN backyard compost system is easy to set up and is ideal for all skill levels. Use the finished compost around flowers and garden plants to amend your soil with rich recycled nutrients. Here are some GEOBIN statistics:

  • Large capacity—expandable up to 4 feet across
  • Easy to assemble with closure keys
  • Made from 50% recycled plastic content
  • Easy to store and reassemble
  • Excellent slotted ventilation 
Geobin composting system
The GEOBIN comes ready to use out of the box. Remove that wrapper and insert the keys. Follow the instructions, it’s that easy.

Backyard Composting Basics: The term “hot composting” refers to a method in which microbial activity within the compost pile is at its optimum level.  The end result is that you end up with finished compost in a much shorter period of time. So what exactly is compost?  Compost is simply decomposed organic matter that is rich in nutrients. Composting is an aerobic process so it requires oxygen. Additionally, nitrogen, carbon, moisture along with beneficial microorganisms are needed as well. Remember making your own compost helps the environment and benefits good insects, soil bacteria and other microorganisms.  The GEOBIN is perfect for hot composting.

Compost Pile Size: The size of your compost bin or pile is very important when it comes to hot composting. The GEOBIN is about 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall.  These dimensions happen to be ideal is for hot composting.  Smaller piles will not generate sufficient heat and larger piles become unmanageable. The composting system should be placed in full sun, less sun will slow down the process.

A working geobin
A GEOBIN in action, fill it up, watch it work.

How do you start a compost pile? The idea behind hot composting is to get the pile to heat up as fast as possible. For this to occur, we need a large amount of organic matter, with the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio, right from the start. This carbon to nitrogen ratio enhances microbial activity and ramps up the composting process.  If you are interested in composting then you will need to collect organic material from the table below.  Add the materials to the GEOBIN, mix well, add water.  If you have older compost mix, it is already teeming with microorganisms and will serve as an activator, add it to the new pile.

Carbon-Rich Materials Nitrogen-Rich Materials
Straw Grass clippings
Shredded paper Fresh cut weeds
Corn Stalks Vegetable and fruit scraps
Fall leaves Deadheading
Twigs Coffee grounds

Compost Happens: The optimal temperature for microbial activity is 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, microbes break down organic matter and reproduce at high rates. This temperature range is also hot enough to kill most weed seeds and harmful bacteria in the pile. The composting process also requires water.  The contents of your compost pile should feel like a wrung-out sponge.

Compost
Happiness is well-made compost. Thank you, GEOBIN.

If you are having problems with your compost pile, don’t give up hope.  For a compost pile that does not heat up, try the following:

  • the pile is too small
  • not enough air
  • not enough nitrogen
  • the pile is too wet or too dry

Good luck composting, if you have any questions or comments please post them below.

Happy Gardening, from The Plant King.

 

 

 

Pruning Shears and Loppers, Essential Gardening Tools

When pruning woody trees and shrubs, the right tool makes all the difference.  The two must-have tools for pruning trees and shrubs whether you are a gardener, homeowner, or professional landscaper are pruning shears and loppers.  We’ll go into the basics of each tool type, important aspects such as the blade type and handle composition.  How to choose pruner or lopper? Well, it is mostly about size, branch size and whether those branches living or dead wood.

trimmedTrees

Why Prune Plants?

The moment you prune a plant, it changes its form and how it will grow. Pruning helps to enhance plant health. Think of it as the preventive maintenance of the plant world. Pruning rids the plant of its dead, damaged and diseased parts. Branches that rub against each other or point downward also need to be pruned.  Generally speaking, pruning allows you to have the plant in the size that is proportionate with the landscape. To summarize, we prune plants:

  • To enhance plant appearance.
  • To prevent injury and property damage.
  • To control plant size.
  • To enhance fruiting and flowering.

Pruning shears – It’s all about precision

These are the most useful of your gardening tools.  Pruning shears come in two types based on their cutting blades.  They are known as either bypass or anvil pruners.  Some may also have a ratcheting action to increase the user’s mechanical advantage, an excellent feature if you have wrist problems.  We’ll describe both here, but you should probably buy and use bypass pruners.

Bypass pruners have a single-edged blade that slices past a thick base as it closes. Anvil pruners have a blade that slices to the center of a wide lower base, contacting that base at the completion of the cut, like a hammer striking an anvil. The anvil pruner is more likely to crush delicate plant tissues, so only use them only on dead wood. A perfect example would be removing dead canes from Hydrangea.

fiskars-floral-scissors-snips-392792-1001-64_1000

Bypass Pruning Shears are your best choice.    Source: HomeDepot

 

Loppers – Get the job done!

If you are cutting branches that are up to 2 inches in diameter, then you need loppers. These are beefy pruners with long handles. While the longer handles will give you added reach to prune higher branches, that’s not their only true advantage. Long handles on loppers give you increased leverage so it can slice through thicker branches with ease.

Loppers are available in anvil or bypass types like their smaller kin. The anvil lopper is great for cutting through dead wood and can usually handle thicker branches without a problem while the bypass lopper is best for cutting through plants that are still alive. Because they leave cleaner cuts, the plant will have a much easier time healing from the pruning.

loppers-394802-1001-64_1000

Bypass Garden Loppers make clean cuts with power. Source: HomeDepot

Pick your handles wisely

Handles are a big consideration as well and there are many different types to choose from. The traditional and most basic is wood, usually a strong and durable wood like ash is used. Some people prefer the feel of wood, I’ve inherited tools with wood handles and those tools work like new. Wood needs to be taken care of by adding a coat of wax to prevent water penetration from time to time.

Tools that have steel handles are very strong. However, they tend to be heavier than other handle types. Steel tools are usually coated with vinyl or plastic coatings. As a rule of thumb, you will wear out before your steel tool does due to its weight.  A good tradeoff between wood and steel are tools with aluminum handles. Aluminum is much lighter and for some, the lighter weight makes it easier to use.  Fiberglass, composite, and plastic handles are very strong,  lightweight and durable as well. These handles tend to be a little more expensive but the extra price is generally worth it.

Caring for your tools

Buy the best tools you can afford because they will pay for themselves in the long run. Good quality tools hold their edge longer and cut easier. Keep your tools sharpened because a sharp tool means less fatigue on your hands and increased user safety. A sharp pruner is not just easier to cut with, it also makes a cleaner cut that heals quickly.

To be able to use your pruning shears and loppers for extended periods of time, they need to be regularly oiled and kept sharp at all times. You should also check tool components on a regular basis, adjust or replace screws, bolts, springs, and blades. Remember, tools cost money, think of your gardening tools as an investment. Store them in a dry place to prevent rust and keep them in good working order.

Review: SunJoe Electric Pole Chain Saw Makes Tree Pruning Easy

Here we review the SunJoe 10 inch electric pole chain saw.  It is perfect for your next project! It takes the difficulty out of tree pruning and cutting overhead limbs. SunJoe makes four different models, the one we tested was the SunJoe SWJ803E 10 inch adjustable pole saw with 8.0 Amp electric motor.  The saw itself is mounted on an adjustable length pole that can telescope from 5.8 to 8.8 feet with an adjustable saw mount that rotates from 0 to 30 degrees.  Add your height and the tool should max out around 14 feet.  The tool requires an extension cord for power and the addition of chain saw oil for lubrication.  Here is the unboxing and setup.  The SunJoe came well boxed.  It was ordered from Amazon and priced at $71.99.  Prime gave us free delivery.

20190318_091031

The printed instructions were clear and easy to understand.  The only required assembly as you can see below is the bar and chain needed attachment to the motor unit.  A handy wrench was provided.  The chain must be adjusted to correct tension.

20190318_091722

Bar and chain oil (sold separately) has been added to the reservoir and we are ready for tree trimming. The saw has automatic chain lubrication and angle settings between 0 and 30 degrees for easier, ergonomic cutting. During our tests, the SunJoe easily cut through 6-inch diameter maple.

20190318_092607

There are four SunJoe pole chain saw models to choose from.  We purchased the most powerful 8-Amp SWJ803E model.  A comparison chart is listed below to help you with your choice.

SunJoe

March is the time to prune trees and shrubs and with the beginning of spring even more yard work.  Over the winter, tree limbs break and need to be cut down to a manageable size.  It just becomes a fact of life that trees in your yard require pruning. So instead of using your grandfather’s tree loppers, we suggest an upgrade to the SunJoe SWJ803E 10 inch adjustable pole saw.  The saw with its powerful 8-Amp motor is ready to take on tough jobs.  With 454 Amazon reviews averaging 4.3 out of 5 stars, this tree cutting tool is a no brainer.

Pros: powerful, cuts limbs up to 9.5″ quickly, takes the danger and difficulty out of pruning trees while standing safely to one side. No kickback.

Cons: Can feel heavy after using for a while

Five Online Plant Companies Worth Checking Out

man-coffee-cup-pen

One of the hardest decisions a gardener can make is where to buy their seeds, plants and gardening supplies. As you start looking for those annuals, perfect perennials, and choice veggies to fill your yard, consider shopping online. Here at The Plant King, we have compiled a list of our favorite garden seed catalogs and suppliers. These companies have perfected the art of shipping living, growing things, so they arrive perfectly healthy and are ready to thrive. Here is some information about our favorite online companies – where you can feel confident placing your order. Log onto their websites and request their paper catalogs today to have seeds in time for spring planting! Or order online directly and let the plants come to you.

These websites are packed with instructions and information from planting zones to plant care. And remember, online shopping may be the solution if you can’t find unique or special varieties at your local garden centers. Our biggest tip is to order early, especially if you are after something specific because once these companies sell out for the season, that’s all there is. And now on to our list of the best 2019 online garden seed catalogs!

Park Seed
Perhaps one of the most popular garden seed catalogs is Park Seed. They offer a great selection of both flower and vegetable seeds. Prices are affordable and the seed is always fresh. Shipping is fast, usually just a couple of days. Highly recommended. Additionally, they also offer some live plants.

Burpee Seeds
Nothing signals spring like the arrival of the annual Burpee Catalog in the mailbox. Burpee has always had one of the most colorful catalogs, and a wide selection of seeds. They are especially good at their vegetable selections, as many veggie gardeners already know. They continue to add new varieties each year. Their website excels at garden advice and how-to videos and articles about seed starting.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
They have an extensive seed catalog, with lots of online tips and resources as well. Johnny Selected Seeds has a longstanding reputation as a quality Non-GMO company and it’s 100% employee-owned.

EdenBrothers
An online company that offers one of the largest seed and flower bulb assortments available. Their offerings for the home gardener include hundreds of heirloom varieties, rare and hard to find flower, vegetable, and herb seeds. They also have a large selection of flower bulbs for both spring and fall planting. A very helpful website that allows users to make selections according to flower color, plant height, plant life cycle, blooming and light requirements.

Burgess Seed
A company with over 106 years of experience. It is one of the largest producers and distributors of home gardening products and offers a wide range of quality gardening plants, trees, seeds, bulbs, and supplies at good prices. Check out their one-cent sales! This useful website has many helpful categories to aid buyers with their selections.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

wpChatIcon
%d bloggers like this: