By Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Liz Stanley, Horticulture Program Coordinator, UMaine Extension, Knox, Lincoln & Waldo Counties, email@example.com
Do you have a section of unhealthy looking lawn? Late August into mid-September is a great time to renovate and over seed an area that’s sandy, compacted, worn, weedy or damaged by the hot, dry summer. Here are the basic steps:
Mow if needed after grass is well established with a sharp blade and no shorter than 3″ high.
If your lawn is near a shoreline, use compost sparingly and mulch well to prevent phosphorous and nitrogen run off. (Better yet, plant trees and shrubs near the shore instead of grass.) For more information about lawn care and which grasses are best for your lawn see
By Barbara Murphy, Extension Educator, Oxford County, firstname.lastname@example.org
I like the idea of composting — taking materials that would otherwise go into landfills and turning them into something that could make my garden better. The problem is, I have never been very good at it. Having all of the necessary quantities of “green” and brown materials together at the same time was always a challenge. I’m not even going to mention getting the pile turned! In the end, my “compost” ended up looking like a overgrown weed pile. After some serious digging and poking, I could manage to find some dark colored material that I called compost, but it was hardly worth the effort.
After attending a two-day workshop on “composting at schools,” I have new energy and hope that I can join the ranks of successful composters! Bill Seekins, a faculty member of the Maine Compost Team, shared with the class how he composts his kitchen wastes at his own home. It is very simple and seems foolproof. So I am going to give it a try and fall is the perfect time to start.
The first thing you will need to do is amass a quantity of carbon material, the “browns.” With fall heading our way, fallen leaves are a perfect material for this use. Rake up and bag dry leaves and store them so they stay dry but are available for use.
Some sort of container is helpful at this point. It could be as simple as a circle of chicken wire or snow fence or as complex as a multiple-bin wooden structure. The only thing that matters is that the container is large enough to generate heat but not so large that it compresses the pile and is difficult to turn. For square bins, the suggested size is 3′ x 3′ x 3′; for fenced-in piles, shoot for a diameter of 6 feet.
Choose a well-drained, easily accessible site (you don’t want to walk too far in the middle of the winter). The amount of sun or shade hitting the pile isn’t critical, but some sun will move things along a bit more rapidly.
Fill the bin or enclosure with leaves — all the way to the top. When you are ready to add kitchen scraps, poke a hole into the center of the pile, pour in the scraps, mix it up a bit (30 seconds is good); close the hole with leaves and you are done. Choose a different location each time and make sure the material is mixed into the leaves. Over time, the leaf volume will shrink. When it is noticeable, just add more leaves from your reserve and carry on.
Eventually, the bin will be full and you will need to stop adding leaves and food. If you want to keep composting, you will need to start another bin. If the compost is not uniform throughout the bin, you can:
Compost should only be added lightly every year to well-established gardens; we were told it should be like “sprinkling pepper on mashed potatoes”!
For more information on backyard composting, see
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