Monday, July 27, 2009

New Discovery, Cotton Burr Compost

Oz: Damn it, Jimmy. What the hell did you have to go and move in next door to me?
Jimmy: Oz, do you know what kind of soil they have in this back yard? I've been here two days and I've got little tomato plants...
Oz: Oh my God.

I love this quote from the movie The Whole Nine Yards, I think of Jimmy when I'm working the soil in my front yard flower bed. This soil is a delight, I can work it with my hands it's so rich. Mike brought home this load of rich farm dirt that had been scraped aside for a strip mall, it seemed only fitting that this dirt would make its way to our front yard--within a subdivision that had realized a similar fate. we built our home in what once had been fertile farm land, but the builder had seemed fit to strip the land of three feet of rich Missouri soil and leave us, the poor homeowners, with clay. In my eagerness to grow my landscape for much needed shade and privacy this clay has has been my nemisis, especially when it comes to evergreens. Evergreens cannot tolerate wet feet and I have lost several White Pines, Foster Holly and Spruce in the last decade to soggy feet. So, the battle continues, we've built up a couple of berms and with my new best friend-- Cotton Bur Compost--I'm ready to plant a Scotch Pine and a Holly or two.

In the world of composting, experts worldwide agree that The Soil Food Web ( is the world's leading authority in the field of compost research, testing, and grading of compost. Founded by noted researcher Dr. Elaine Ingham, the Soil Food Web has a network of laboratories around the world and is a leading advocate of sustainable agriculture.

Only a few consultants are endorsed by and associated with the Soil Food web, one of which is Ms. Jennifer Appel. When interviewed about the efficacy of cotton burr compost, Ms. Appel told me that, "cotton burr compost is head and shoulders above any other compost." Yes, that's a big claim, so my follow- up question dealt with her reasoning for this position. Ms. Appel states that "cotton is a very heavy feeder, absorbing vast amounts of nutrients from the soil as it grows and the bulk of the nutrients are located in the burr left over from the ginning process."

What are the three things that make cotton burr compost America's favorite composting choice?

#1 Cotton burr compost contains a high percentage of organic matter. When you consider the fact that up to 98% of all plant of growth is generated by organic matter, you begin to understand what makes this compost a top performer. Conversely, a deficiency of organic matter will be detrimental to your plant's growth, and its overall health will be handicapped from the very start. Here's an important point to note: The higher the quality of the plant matter being composted, the better the compost. When you start of with material like nutrient-rich cotton burr, the resulting compost is a nutritionally-dense product that surpasses anything you'll ever find in bulk at a retailer's.

#2 Results of the Soil Food Web's test data show that cotton burr compost is abundant in beneficial micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoa. These are essential microbes which secrete organic acids which, in turn, help release nutrients and other chemicals that bond soil particles into stable aggregates. This action results in prolific microbial activity that improves the overall soil structure, increases air penetration, and resists soil compaction. These necessary microbes occupy most of the leaf or root surface and are efficient at utilizing the food resources that disease-causing organisms would otherwise consume.

#3 Cotton Burr Compost has neutral pH value. Natural anti-fungal properties make cotton burr compost a valued soil amendment for rose growers and organic gardeners.

Myth Buster! Although cotton plants are frequently treated with chemicals to defoliate the plant before harvesting, the compost remains uncontaminated. Defoliating chemicals quickly break down into inert compounds and are totally dissipated before the cotton bolls are harvested. The intensity and duration of heat generated during the composting process also kills off potential pathogens such as e-coli and weed seeds.

#4 Bonus Reason! Cotton Burr Compost is the result of recycling what was once considered 'gin-trash' into a valuable commodity which dramatically aids in building soil fertility. This in turn increases the nutrient content of organic produce, and also creates jobs for Americans in the Mid-South and Delta regions.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Favorite Garden Center

For a quick respite, all I need to do is head down highway 94 to Wine Country Gardens. In the beginning the garden center was known for their acres upon acres of daylilly's, and the bucolic view of the Missouri River bottoms. Your heart rate is guaranteed to lower the minute your car tires crunch atop their gravel drive, Wine Country Gardens is that peaceful. The two-story farmhouse features a wrap-around arbor and is perfect place to while away a few hours. A cafe offering a variety of sandwiches and salads along with a wide variety of wine invites the visitor to linger. In recent years additional patios, a large dining hall, and an outdoor bandstand offer space for theme dinners, parties and weddings. I feel lucky indeed to have this gem a short 15 minute drive from home.
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