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    BBB Tip: Finding the right landscaping and lawn care pro can save you time, money – WSIL TV - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (BBB) -- A beautiful lawn can be both appealing and environmentally friendly, but it can take a lot of work and be a tricky project to do yourself. Caring for a yard under the best of circumstances can still be challenging; extended periods of extreme weather, dull lawnmower blades, bugs, pests, and heavy foot traffic can all lead to a lawn that needs extra care.

    Lawn care generally falls into three categories: landscaping, lawn maintenance, and sprinkler systems. Before selecting a business, evaluate your needs. Some businesses specialize in one area, while others offer a variety of services.

    LANDSCAPING: Landscaping businesses design landscapes for designated areas, select the appropriate plants, and provide and install the plants.

    LAWN MAINTENANCE: Services generally include mowing, edging, weeding of flower beds, treating for insect disease, weed control, trimming of shrubs, irrigation systems checks, and fertilizing.

    SPRINKLER SYSTEMS/IRRIGATION: Services provided by sprinkler system businesses include design installation and general maintenance and repair. Check with your state or province to see if there are special licenses required to do this work.

    There are many things that your lawn might need depending on the season. This can include pH testing, aerating the soil, fertilization, filling in bald spots, trimming back overgrowth, and planting seasonal flowers and plants. While many consumers choose to make lawn maintenance a do-it-yourself project, there are those that prefer to leave it to the professionals. Hiring a landscape contractor or lawn maintenance service gives homeowners the professional help they need.

    The BBB offers the following tips when considering hiring a lawn care professional:

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    BBB Tip: Finding the right landscaping and lawn care pro can save you time, money - WSIL TV

    An interesting spring: 5 Questions with The Grass Guys owner Charlie Churchill – Grand Forks Herald - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Q: What got you into lawn care?

    A: My former business partner and I started in my freshman year of college, and then we just continued to grow every single year. Once I graduated from UND in the spring of 2019, we started doing snow removal that winter, and then I bought my former business partner out and now we're growing very quickly.

    Q: What goes into restoring a person's lawn, starting in the early spring? What sets your company apart from others?

    A: It's always good to aerate in the spring. The plugs from the aeration act as nutrients for the lawn, and they decompose into the lawn. Some people like to get all the dead thatch out of the yard by thatching, which allows more water to get down to the grass easier; water, fertilizer or anything like that. If we continue in this dry spell, it could be very tough on lawns. I would say our attention to detail. We're pretty specific about the way we leave things, and try to do the best job possible.

    Q: We had a dry winter, how did snow removal go for you? Going into spring, we're in a moderate drought; does that mean you're going to have to take extra special steps to restore a lawn?

    A: Having a mix of part-time contracts and seasonal contracts, it definitely wasn't as successful of a winter as we were looking for, but we'd like to think that things are going to average out over the next couple of years. It was just a dry winter. I would just recommend watering and aeration in the spring and doing everything you can to keep your lawn from being completely dried out and yellow. One nice thing about having very little snow was the lack of snow mold compared to previous winters.

    Q: Are you expecting to be pretty busy this spring?

    A: I would say things are going to be pretty relaxed this spring, because we're going to have a long time to do our spring cleanups. Usually we've got about a week or two weeks at end of April and early May to do our spring cleanups, but this spring, were starting off completely next Monday. Were just getting out three weeks earlier, so spring will be a little bit easier. If we get some moisture, things can get back to normal, but it's looking like it could be an interesting spring.

    Q: More homes are going up in the south end of Grand Forks, so that means more potential customers, right? Is competition tough?

    A: Competition is tough but as long as you do good work. We really haven't lost any customers over our years, and we really haven't advertised at all. We've had great love just from people seeing our work and noticing (it).

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    An interesting spring: 5 Questions with The Grass Guys owner Charlie Churchill - Grand Forks Herald

    Mashpee sewer construction project to go before town meeting – Cape Cod Times - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    MASHPEE Three articles set to go before voters at town meeting next month will help bring the towns long-time-coming comprehensive watershed nitrogen management plan to fruition if passed.

    The Board of Selectmen voted last week to approve and recommend articles for the upcoming spring session on May 3.

    If you want clean water, and you care about the future of both the environment of the community and the economic fundamentals of the community, we need to start to address the water quality problems that are relevant in our waterways, said Andrew Gottlieb, a member of the Mashpee Board of Selectmen and liaison on the Mashpee Sewer Commission.

    The main article, Article 6, seeks to appropriate $54 million to fund the implementation and construction of the first phase of the towns plan to mitigate nitrogen pollution. It includes the construction of a wastewater treatment plant to be located adjacent to the towns transfer station off Ashers Path. A sewer main system that would stretch from Butler Lane and Drew Lane south to Yardarm Drive and along Route 28 and Quinaquisset Avenue is also part of the proposal.

    The project represents the first phase of the towns five-phase Comprehensive Watershed Nitrogen Management Plan. In 1999, town meeting voters authorized spending $405,000 to develop the plan in order to reduce nitrogen and treat wastewater.

    In June: Water quality issues top agenda at Mashpee town meeting

    In August: Cape programs share in EPA watershed grants

    Were ready to move forward, John Cotton, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said during the board's March 22 meeting.

    The article must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote at town meeting, and is also contingent on the passage of a Proposition 2 debt exclusion override on the ballot for the May 8 town election, which is necessary in order to protect the towns bond rating, Gottlieb said.

    If all goes to plan, the project could potentially go out to bid by mid-November, Anastasia Rudenko of project engineers GHD said during a Sewer Commission meeting March 16.

    Another article on the town meeting warrant related to the wastewater project would allow the town to use 2.7 acres of land on Mashpee Neck Road for the construction of a sewer substation as part of the wastewater treatment plant's infrastructure.

    A third article asks if the town will vote to adopt a general bylaw to establish flow neutral regulations. It wouldmandate that parcels of property be connected to the public sewer system and eliminate any septic systems in the sewer service areas in order to reduce nitrogen pollution.

    If that article is passed, it enables the town to qualify for 0% financing from the states Clean Water Trust.

    The latter two articles are relevant only if the wastewater treatment plant article passes, Gottlieb said.

    More: Study uncovers previously unknown PFAS contaminants in Cape watersheds

    More: Curious Cape Cod: The best hiking trails in each Cape Cod town

    Town officials do not anticipate net taxes to increase for Mashpee residents if the articles pass.

    The annual debt service would be $156 for a property with the town average value of $498,000. But with anticipated cash flows, residents would not see any additional increase to their tax bills as a result of the project..

    Funds from the Water Infrastructure Fund, local room tax, state loan principal forgiveness as well as Cape and Islands Trust loan principal forgiveness will provide enough cash flow so tax increases will not be necessary, Gottlieb said during the March 16 meeting.

    Mashpees estuaries and waterways have shown significant signs of degradation over the years due to excessive inputof nitrogen from septic and wastewater treatment systems, as well as other sources such as lawn fertilizer and surface runoff.

    The pollution fuels toxic algae outbreaks in bays and ponds that can make people sick and kill wildlife and pets. The outbreaks also force beaches and ponds to close, which leads to an adverse effect on tourism and the regions economy.

    Santuit Pond, for example, frequently experiences cyanobacteria blooms that forceit to close during the summer.

    The town, along with Barnstable, has also been threatened with a lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation to stop septic systems from pumping nitrogen and phosphorus pollution into local waterways. The suit calls for a temporary suspension of any new septic systems and a pause on passing inspections associated with the sale of properties in Mashpee.

    We have legal obligations under state and federal law to take action to restore water quality, Gottlieb said Wednesday. The law is what the law is, and it calls for clean water.

    Right now the town does not meet that standard, Gottlieb said.

    If a judge finds that the town is breaking the law, and the court orders Mashpee to fix its system, the town will not be eligible for the current sources of low-interest money that it is currently eligible for, Gottlieb said.

    Its not in our interest to delay this even more, Gottlieb said. If we end up in court and we lose, were going to have to fix it using our own resources.

    I hate that we have to spend this kind of money, but I also hate that our rivers and estuaries continue to get polluted, A. Gregory McKelvey, a member of the Mashpee Finance Committee, said during a March 25 meeting. So we have to do something. If we dont do something, theres going to be other consequences out there.

    Contact Jessica Hill at Follow her on Twitter: @jess_hillyeah.

    More: Town to be involved in Mashpee Commons expansion through three-party agreement

    More: Dennis, Harwich delays jeopardize plans for regional wastewater plant

    More: Troubled waters? Plan to discharge treated wastewater into Canal concerns Bourne residents

    More: $1.2M Stewarts Creek restoration fails to prevent pollution

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    Mashpee sewer construction project to go before town meeting - Cape Cod Times

    Consider This: Why we need to forget about the perfect lawn – Harvard Press - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    With the snow cover finally melting, we can see our yards again, and Im sure many of us are thinking about gardening and lawn care. Since moving to Harvard and acquiring a lawn, I have begun reading up on what to do with the (in my case, not-so) green expanse.

    According to a 2005 NASA-funded study using satellite imagerythe first, and still most widely cited such researchturfgrass lawn is the most extensive crop grown in the United States, outpacing even corn and covering about 40 million acres. Even though Id rather not think about it, I am concerned with global warming: I know that how I maintain my small patch of Americas premier crop matters to the health of current and future generations.

    Like many people, I absorbed ideas about lawn care from my parents. Although I bought a gas push mower (something I wouldnt do again), I also have a predilection for keeping a natural lawn to attract insects, amphibians, and birds. Ironically, grass lawns tend to evoke a strong sense of home for many, despite the fact that they are composed of nonnative species and contribute to the demise of native birds and insects.

    Recent researchincluding the Yard Futures Project, as well as a study of bees in suburban western Massachusetts published in Biological Conservation in 2018affirms that management of yards can positively contribute to ecosystem diversity even as natural habitat shrinks. I am not suggesting we do away with the grass lawn, but rather that we recognize and mitigate some of the environmental problems associated with mainstream, suburban-type lawn maintenance. I want to share a little of my reading and research on this topic, so that this spring, we consider leaving some of the synthetic chemical fertilizer on the shelf at the local home supply store.

    Chemical fertilizers

    Synthetic, commercial fertilizers contain water-soluble nitrogen and some phosphorus, which washes into nearby bodies of water and groundwater. Massachusetts General Laws Part I. Ch. 128, 65A, however, considerably restricts the use of phosphorus in fertilizer to comply with federal law protecting waterways. Depending on the application, the weather, and soil health, a significant portion will wash away. Applying combined fertilizer and broad-leaf herbicide, known as weed and feed, is also concerning because the timing is off: Its better to fertilize when grasses are growing, and de-weed later in the season. Weed and feed results in the over-application of herbicide, typically 2,4-D, which can harm nearby trees after just one application, according to the Wyoming State Forestry Division, and gets tracked into houses on the feet of pets and kids. It has been linked to negative health effects. Canada banned the use of weed and feed products in 2010.

    Big picture effects

    The water from your lawn flows into inland waterways, groundwater aquifers (affecting the quality of private well water), and, finally, out to the ocean. The EPA highlights nonpoint source pollution, to which fertilizers and pesticides from residential lawns are considered important contributors, as the largest and most difficult-to-address threat to U.S. waterways.

    The Bare Hill Pond Watershed Management Committee noted in its last annual report (August 2020) that levels of phosphorus had increased in the deeper zone of the pond. Farther afield, WBUR reports regularly on pollution in the waterways and wetlands around Cape Cod, to which fertilizer runoff makes a strong contribution. Eutrophication, the depletion of oxygen in water generally from algae growth, is produced in inland waterways and coastal waters from the imbalance of nitrates and phosphorus. This kills aquatic life and is hard to remedy, especially as temperatures of coastal waters increase. Eutrophication of coastal waters isnt just a regional issue but also generally affects U.S. coastlinesfor example, every summer a massive dead zone forms, larger than the state of Connecticut, in the Gulf of Mexico, mainly from fertilizer runoff from the Midwest.

    Global warming

    The use of synthetic chemical fertilizer also contributes to global warming. According to the Garden Club of America, homeowners use three million tons of fertilizer a year. For every ton of nitrogen produced for nitrogen-based fertilizer, representatives of the fertilizer industry in Europe (Fertilizer Europe) estimate that 2.5 to 4 tons of carbon are added to the atmosphere. Further, excess nitrogen not only washes off into waterways, but also, because it is water soluble, gets turned into gas and enters the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that has much higher (up to 300 times) the heat-trapping potential as carbon dioxide. The EPA reported unprecedentedly high levels of nitrous oxide in 2015, due to agricultural usage.

    Soil health

    Soil scientist Rick Haney travels around the country warning farmers that synthetic fertilizers deplete the soil by killing the good microorganisms that should be feeding their plants, and this will contribute to erosion, as well as poor crop yield (in the case of lawns, unattractive grass that then requires more fertilizer to look OK). Too much nitrogen on your lawn exacerbates soil compaction, making runoff worse, so over time, more fertilizer goes into the watershed. Excess nitrogen can also attract grubs, which in turn attract molesand moles turn yards into a lumpy mess.

    Water scarcity

    The more fertilizer a lawn receives, the more water it needs, because growth is stimulated and the grass takes up more water. Also, it requires more water input to look green. Therefore, fertilizer often goes hand-in-hand with the installation of automatic sprinkler irrigation. According to the EPA, landscape irrigation makes up about one-third of all residential water usage in the U.S.equivalent to 9 billion gallons per day. Much of this water is wasted due to evaporation and runoff. Studies show that by 2050, about 50% of the worlds population will face water shortages: In the U.S., the West and Southwest are most vulnerable, but significant per capita decrease in water availability in Massachusetts has also been predicted starting in the next few decades.


    The good news, I think, is that doing less is the best possible solution for most people! Mow less, let the grass grow higher. The grass will invest energy in growing good roots rather than stems and leaves. Good roots combat runoff and soil compaction and attract healthy nutrients back to the soil.

    While I understand the attachment many people have to an emerald green lawn, there are nonsynthetic ways to make the lawn look great. Improving soil health with appropriate inputs of compost, allowing the grass clippings to stay on the lawn to cycle nutrients back into the soil, and letting fall leaves decompose back into the yard are great natural methods. (Oak leaves often take two years to compost, so homeowners may like to rake and compost them in piles before using them.)

    One final, and very important, alternative is to plant appropriate native plants instead of those favored by the mainstream lawn industry. Kentucky bluegrass is not a native plant, despite its name: It was brought over as forage for livestock in the 19th century and outcompeted native grasses. This process can be witnessed in Midwestern prairies today, according to Global Rangelands (a collaboration of western land-grant universities), where Kentucky bluegrass is listed as an invasive plant in a number of states and outcompetes native prairie grasses. (Also, it seems to fare poorly in acidic soil, which is common around Harvard.)

    Eco-friendly mixes of grass seed, generally a combination of tall and fine fescues, are available from a number of reputable suppliers, and require fewer inputs to grow nicely.

    After all my reading and research, Ive concluded that a green lawn does not equal a green Earth. We need to get used to the way grasses look when they are dormant, and think more about the health of the ground beneath our feet.

    Catherine Warner of Harvard is an avid gardener, who during her undergraduate years in Virginia worked at local greenhouses and an organic farm.

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    Consider This: Why we need to forget about the perfect lawn - Harvard Press

    Ariel Whitely-Noll: Timing is critical for crabgrass prevention. When should you act? – The Topeka Capital-Journal - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Ariel Whitely-Noll| Special to The Capital-Journal

    Crabgrass is a common lawn and garden weed, best controlled in the spring. As discussed a few weeks ago, the timing is essential for effective control of crabgrass, and products applied too early or too late in the season are wasted.

    In April, typically between April 1 and 15, crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide should be applied to areas that have had crabgrass in previousyears. These products do not kill the crabgrass seedsbut rather kill the crabgrass plants just as they are emerging from the seed. This means most pre-emergent products will have no effect on existing crabgrass plants, which is why we rely on proper spring timing.

    A pre-emergence applied in the late spring or summer will do nothing to stop crabgrass from invading your lawn or garden.

    Due to the limited time these products are effective after application, generally around 60 days or less, there is a signal we can take from mother nature to help us ensure were applying the products at the proper time. Look for the redbuds to bloom. Eastern Redbud trees are native to Kansas and abundant in our landscapes.

    When they reach full bloom, apply crabgrass preventer to ensure the product will be well timed with crabgrass germination.

    As with all chemical applications, pay close attention to the product label and directions. Products that include pendimethalin (Scotts Halts) and Team (Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control) will require a follow-up application. Dimension or Barricade do not require follow-up applications.Dimension and Barricade last much longer in the environment and have a wider window of application and longer persistence in the soil, resulting in season-long control.

    Dimension can also have an effect on young crabgrass plants and works favorably with tall fescue, perennial ryegrassand Kentucky bluegrass seedlings. Again, label directions should be followed. The safest schedule to prevent crabgrass pre-emergent products from affecting new lawns is to seed in the fall and apply pre-emergent for crabgrass in the spring. Dimension may also be sold under the name of its active ingredient, dithiopyr, and Barricade may be sold by its active ingredient, prodiamine.

    Crabgrass preventers should be applied before fertilizer to reduce the likelihood that the grass will put on growth too early in the season. Many products combine pre-emergent and fertilizer, but the below products do not.

    Barricade: Howard Johnson Crabgrass Control Plus with 0.37 Prodiamine 00-00-07.

    Pendimethalin: Scotts Halts.

    Team (Benefin + Trifluralin): Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control.

    Dimension: Hi-Yield Turf & Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper.

    If you have not already, make sure to test your soil every three to five years and follow those recommendations for fertilizer. Oftenwe find lawns and gardens are overfertilized, which can sometimes cause issues, such asbrown patch, in lawns. For more information about soil testing, visit our website at

    The mention of commercial products and trade names is for educational and informational purposes only. No endorsement is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned. Please make sure to read all product label thoroughly and follow those instructions exactly.

    Ariel Whitely-Noll is the horticulture agent for Shawnee County Research and Extension. She can be reached at

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    Ariel Whitely-Noll: Timing is critical for crabgrass prevention. When should you act? - The Topeka Capital-Journal

    Stay safe when working in the yard this spring and summer – - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    A day spent working in the yard is an ideal way to pass the time on spring and summer afternoons. A pristine landscape can add value to a property and instill pride in homeowners who put a lot of thought and effort into their lawns and gardens.

    A sun-soaked day can make it easy to overlook potential threats when working in a lawn or garden. But safety precautions are of the utmost necessity when working in the yard, where the risk for serious injury is considerable. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that, in 2016, more than 90,000 patients, including nearly 5,000 children, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries.

    Lawn-and garden-related injuries can be prevented without going to great lengths.

    Know your terrain before mowing

    Knowing the terrain in your own yard can reduce the risk for accident or injury. This can be especially important when mowing the lawn with a riding mower. Adhere to manufacturers' recommendations regarding inclines to reduce tip-over accidents that can pin riders beneath the mower. Study hilly areas of the yard prior to mowing so you know which areas are safe to mow with a riding mower and which areas are best mowed with a walk-behind mower. For greater control when using a walk-behind mower on an incline, mow parallel to the slope.

    Apply and reapply sunscreen

    Sunburns may not require trips to the emergency room, but they can still be serious. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) notes that sunburn is a leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The SCF recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to allow the sunscreen to bond to your skin. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you're sweating excessively. The SCF recommends broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Though a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is acceptable when walking the dog or driving to work, the SCF advises using a product with an SPF of 30 or higher when engaging in extended outdoor activities like gardening or mowing.

    Employ the buddy system

    Use the buddy system when pruning tall trees or performing any tasks that require a ladder. The Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania (OIP) reports that more than 164,000 people are injured each year falling off a ladder. Ask a significant other or neighbor to hold the ladder in place while you climb up to reduce your risk of falling. If cutting large branches, cut them piecemeal to reduce the risk of being injured by heavy falling branches.

    Inspect the property for insect hives

    The OIP notes that the most common insect stings in spring come from bees, wasps and hornets. Homeowners who are not careful can inadvertently come across hives when doing spring cleanup, making them vulnerable to bites and stings. That can be very dangerous for anyone, and especially so for people with a history of allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. Inspect areas where you'll be working to make sure insects haven't put down roots in your property. If you discover any hives and are hesitant to remove them on your own, contact a local landscaping firm.

    Lawn and garden accidents and injuries can be serious. Thankfully, accidents and injuries are easily prevented when homeowners take a few simple safety precautions while tending to their lawns and gardens.

    Metro Creative Connection

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    Stay safe when working in the yard this spring and summer -

    Nature’s Gourmet one of the most diverse grass-fed protein operations in the state – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Ben Simmons holds fresh eggs next to a trailer he uses to deliver his cuts of beef, pork, chicken and eggs to customers at his Natures Gourmet farm in Petal. Journal Communications/Nathan Lambrecht

    Ben and Beth Simmons operate one of the states largest and most diverse grass-fed protein operations selling 100 percent grass-fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken and pastured eggs.

    Their company, Natures Gourmet Farm ( located near Petal has a large footprint in the region selling direct to customers not only in the Pine Belt region, but in Jackson, Ocean Springs, Gulfport, Picayune and Mobile, Ala.

    Earlier in life, Simmons had a career in manufacturing in positions across the Southeast and also traveled to Asia, Europe, and South America. He was also first in the Army National Guard and later transferred to the Air National Guard. He retired in June 2015 with the rank of Colonel.

    Simmons inherited the farm from his father in 2009. From the beginning, the Simmons had a commitment to regenerative agriculture, humane animal handling, and environmental stewardship farming without using harmful pesticides, chemicals and artificial growth hormones.

    We treat our livestock with respect and let them live their lives the way God intended, Simmons said. All of our animals are raised on diverse forage pastures, in a low stress, all-natural environment where they are free to express their God-given nature.

    They started out with cattle in 2010. In 2012, they started raising poultry under an USDA processing exemption for 1,000 chickens per year. In 2014, they added pastured pigs to their operation. In 2017, they added laying hens.

    Simmons said regulatory burdens imposed to protect big ag companies are the biggest impediment to small farms. There are 40 states that have adopted the 20,000- limit on chickens raised on a small farm.

    Mississippi and many other states in Southeast where big poultry industries are located will only let you do 1,000 per year and you have to sell it directly from your farm, Simmons said. A family cannot survive on only 1,000 chickens per year. So, in 2019, we built a small, on-farm USDA poultry processing plant. Now that I have a plant and sanitation, I can grow as many as I want and ship wherever I want. That is a barrier to other farmers. Investing in a plant opens up a lot of markets and the investment is not as big as some people would lead you to believe.

    Most of the work on the farm is done by Ben and Beth and their oldest son, Eric. On chicken processing days, they bring in a few part-time helpers.

    Natures Gourmet had the first USDA poultry plant in the state for a small producer, and now has built a processing plant to allow them to slaughter and process beef and pork on the farm.

    Like most grass-fed producers across the country, Natures Gourmet saw increased demand for their product during the pandemic.

    Our sales went up tremendously this past year, Simmons said. The pandemic actually resulted in more people considering buying directly from a farm. They started looking, investigating and calling. There is a lot of discussion whether this is a temporary thing or if these will become permanent customers. But we certainly have enjoyed continuous growth. In our recent delivery to Mobile, Ocean Springs and Gulfport, probably 15 percent of those customers were first-time buyers. One of them who bought beef, pork and chicken for the first time gave us a five-star Google review.

    There are advantages to raising multiple species. Simmons said mimicking nature creates a synergy.

    You do not see a monoculture pasture in nature, he said. What people dont realize is that 70 percent of what a cow eats and drinks is returned to the soil. That builds up the quality of the soil and allows more plant diversity.

    Producing multiple species also helps with cash flow. Cows take about two years to raise.

    Most people getting started cant handle a two-year cash flow, Simmons said. With laying hens, there is something to sell every day. With broiler chickens, every eight weeks there is a product to sell. Pigs can be raised in about ten months.

    Simmons sees much greater potential for direct marketing from small farms in Mississippi. He points to North Carolina as a good model.

    North Carolina has hundreds of small direct marketing farms and a population that knows the value of buying direct from the farm, Simmons said. And they have an ag department that is pushing that.

    Education is key to success in grass farming. He started reading Stockman Grass Farmer in 2010, and felt it aligned with his values and belief in God. He started reading SGF books including those by SGF founder and publisher, the late Allan Nation, and Joel Salatin, who is considered one of the top grass-fed producers and authors in the country.

    In 2011 my wife and I went to Joels Polyface Farms for one of his farm tours, Simmons said. My biggest takeaway was that this does work, this is viable, and we need to be doing this. What I saw on his farm was exactly what I read in his books. It wasnt just a marketing gimmick to sell a book. He was actually trying to help people and educate farmers that there is a better way of doing this. We started immersing ourselves in what grass farming means.

    Simmons found Nation and Salatin a refreshing change from professors and extension folks who write articles about their theoriesnot practiceof how people should be farming.

    Most of it goes back to supporting the big ag engine of feed, seed, fertilizer, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, he said. You have to follow the money. Monsanto provides money to professors to study something and then once the research is finalized, they push it out through the USDA and local extension office as the latest, greatest way to do things.

    Simmons also attended a The Grassfed Exchange conference in North Dakota in 2012, and was amazed at what he saw. He was particularly impressed by the tour of Gabe Browns farm.

    In just years, he took soils from less than two percent organic matter to up to eight percent all with diverse forage-based pastures, no chemicals, no tillage, and good livestock management, Simmons said. We came back and started adapting his land management principals to grow the health of our soils.

    Simmons also met and learned from industry leader Dr. Allen Williams with Understanding Ag LLC.

    I was surrounding myself with like-minded people, he said.

    Marketing built up gradually. They used Facebook initially to let people know pickup locations, and had a critical focus on quality and consistency.

    Unlike the conventional farmer, we see the customers who buy and consume our products, he said. We work really hard on establishing trust with our customers. Trust comes through truth and being transparent. I know other direct marketing farms in Mississippi who label products as grass-fed when they are really not. The lack of Country of Origin (COO) labels is a big problem, too. More than 80-90 percent beef sold in America sold as grass-fed beef is imported. You have no idea what country it comes from, who the farmer was, or how the animal was raised. But those big corporations and their lobbyists got rid of the COO labeling so foreign products could be processed here and be labeled: Product of USA. That is wrong. That is deceitful.

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    Nature's Gourmet one of the most diverse grass-fed protein operations in the state - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

    Rust disease on pear trees can be treated – Enid News & Eagle - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    During the summer, many of us notice yellow-orange spots on the leaves of their ornamental pear trees.

    These spots begin in the late spring on the upper surface of leaves, approximately 1/8- to 1/4-inch in diameter. Gradually they enlarge and turn orange during the summer months.

    Though these spots resemble the cedar-apple rust spots on apple leaves, they are caused by a slightly different organism. Pear leaves are infected with cedar-hawthorn rust rather than cedar-apple rust.

    Though cedar-hawthorn rust is different than cedar-apple rust, both diseases work the same, and the control is exactly the same as well. This disease causes primarily only aes

    thetic damage on ornamental pear trees and is considered a nuisance problem, rather than causing significant harm to the health of the tree. Therefore, control is optional and generally not recommended unless the tree experiences substantial leaf drop.

    A control for rust diseases must only be applied preventatively. Once the symptoms are visible on the leaf, it is too late to do anything about pear rust, especially once the month of May is over.

    The fungus that causes rust is only active in April-May time period, which is when the disease infection occurs on pear trees.

    If you would like to control the disease, consider using a fungicide that contains the active ingredient myclobutanil (Immunox, Immunox Plus or Fertilome F-Stop Lawn & Garden Spray). There are other fungicides that will work but those with myclobutanil have an advantage.

    Most fungicides must be present on the foliage before the disease spore germinates or they are ineffective. Myclobutanil will kill the rust spore up to four days after it germinates. This can be very beneficial in disease control. Normally to control rust on pear trees, the recommendation is that trees be sprayed every seven to 10 days starting at the beginning of April until the end of May.

    However, since we have this four-day kickback with myclobutanil, we can wait until we actually see evidence of spores being released before we spray.

    How do we do that? First of all, remember that cedar-apple rust and cedar-hawthorn rust must go back and forth between junipers (cedars) and apples (or pears in this case).

    The spores from junipers can only infect apples or pears and those from apples or pears can only infect junipers.

    Therefore, we look at the juniper to see when to spray either apples or pears. When you see the orange globs (galls) on the junipers, you know you have four days to spray the apples and/or pears.

    These orange globs are actually cedar-apple rust but cedar hawthorn rust develops under the same environmental conditions.

    We use cedar-apple rust as the visual signal because it is much more noticeable on the juniper. If you see cedar-apple rust, cedar-hawthorn rust also is likely present.

    It also is important to note that the orange galls only develop during rainy, spring weather. The rust disease has a minimal effect on junipers, so no control is needed to protect juniper or cedar trees.

    In cases where repeat leaf defoliation is a problem with the pear tree, or the aesthetic damage cannot be tolerated, watch the cedar trees during any rainy period between April and May.

    When the overwintering rust galls bloom their orange, gelatinous tentacles (orange galls appear) get ready to spray. You have four days to apply your myclobutanil fungicide. Once May is over, you are done.

    Nelson is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County.

    We are making critical coverage of the coronavirus available for free. Please consider subscribing so we can continue to bring you the latest news and information on this developing story.

    Read more:
    Rust disease on pear trees can be treated - Enid News & Eagle

    Grass-fed producer was inspired by work in Third World countries – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Cows grazing on High Hope Farm in Clay County Mississippi

    Rev. Johnny Wray of Cedar Bluff was inspired to begin grass-fed protein production as a result of his work as executive director of the humanitarian response fund for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He did extensive travel abroad to help respond to natural disaster, hunger and refugee issues.

    A lot of our work was in small-scale agriculture allowing communities to be more self-sufficient in food production, Wray said. That is where I was coming from professionally. I was very interested in food, concerned about what was in food, where it came from and who produced it. I traveled to countries in Central America and Africa and to Bosnia and North Korea where communities were struggling and often very poor.

    He experienced something unexpected. After a couple of weeks eating healthy food produced without herbicides, pesticides or commercial fertilizer, he felt better. He realized people in the countries he visited were eating very close to the land. He and his wife, Deb, decided they wanted to do something similar in Mississippi.

    We were going to know where our beef and other food came from, and how it was produced, Wray said. We were able to find people with similar interests. We knew someone who raised pastured pork and someone with a large organic farm in Starkville.

    Ten years ago Johnny and Deb Wray moved onto the farm to live a life of hospitality to friends and strangers, and to raise and offer the finest grass-fed beef for sale.

    In 1980, they bought a small farm in western Clay County primarily as a getaway. Then they discovered writer Wendall Berry, a foremost advocate of healthier farming. Berry provided a philosophical underpinning for farming closer to nature.

    I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me, Berry wrote. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.

    Then they met Dr. Allen Williams, who consults around the world with grass-fed producers.

    Allen provided the practical part of it: regenerative agriculture, Wray said. At the end of 2008, my wife and I made what some people would say was a crazy decision to give up good-paying jobs in Indianapolis and move to the farm and do food production that was sustainable and organic. We knew it wouldnt be the traditional way of farming. We decided that raising grass-fed beef would be particularly suited to us. We are now in our 12th year.

    The first year they raised just one steer. The next year they raised three, and sold shares in the beef produced. Over the next several years, they geared up to doing 20-25 annually. Then the Covid crisis hit. People saw the rampant Covid infections in workers at big meatpacking plants, and shortages of meat in grocery stores.

    Covid uncovered issues about our broken food system, Wray said. People were looking for alternatives. We did some advertising, and saw our numbers grow to 41 steers a year. Almost every day I get an inquiry about our prices and availability. Even before Covid, there was a growing local food culture in our region. Starkville and Oxford have a very strong local food culture that is evident not only in restaurants, but at farmers markets. There are quite a few producers growing sustainably and organically.

    The UN produced a recommendation people stop eating beef because cattle emit methane that contributes to climate change. But Wray said that study was based on industrially produced beef.

    Data has shown cattle grown on grass regeneratively actually mitigate the climate crisis, Wray said. Cattle manure fertilizes the soil and creates plant growth that stores carbon. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has visited our farm several times and felt we were becoming at least carbon neutral based on the grazing techniques we were using.

    Lambs grazing on High Hope Farm in Clay County.

    Currently the biggest issue for state grass-fed protein producers is the lack of local processors.

    We are very fortunate, Wray said. We only have to go about 25 miles to our processor, which is custom exempt. That means we can only sell shares. We cant sell off the farm. Farmers who do retail have to go 100 to 120 miles to a processor. Because of what happened with Covid, those processors are backed up. You have to get on a waiting list and sometimes you are talking months before you can get an animal in.

    Some consider grass-fed production elitist food that can only be afforded by people with high incomes. But Wray said they are merely going back to the way his grandparents farmed, and they were not elite.

    They were not landed gentry, just yeoman farmers. Wray said. The roots of this go back generations. A lot of what has happened to modern food production, including the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, came in after World War II. I know if you go to a restaurant or a grocery store, something organic tends to be more expensive. But if you look at what we do here and go to the farms we are connected with, I think it is a much better bargain, especially in buying shares. We have customers who say they actually find it more economical.

    Marketing can be an issue. People need to be educated about what is in their food and how it affects their health and why supporting local farmers and local food is important to the community, animals, people and the planet. That kind of ongoing education is an obstacle, but it is also an opportunity, Wray said.

    The Wrays highly value their quality of life.

    Work should be pleasurable, he said. We find a lot of pleasure in our work. Our customers value us and will send email or text messages with pictures of their roast or grilling hamburgers. I find that pleasure is missing in a lot of modern agriculture. I dont hear big producers talk about much pleasure and there are concerns about foreclosures and high suicide rates.

    The Wrays also enjoy being hospitable. They have a guest lodging called the Grateful House where people come for rest, retreat and exposure to regenerative agriculture.

    Our farm is small farm, just 38 acres, and one of our goals is to develop a farm that can be an example to young farmers of how they can make a decent living and have a good life on a small farm," Wray said. Allen has helped us develop a vision about how our farm can be pretty much self-supporting. We are essentially retired with some income. We are moving towards being self-sufficient.

    The Wrays practice rotational grazing through most of the year moving their Angus/Charolais cross steers daily on pastures fertilized by the manure. No antibiotics or steroids are used, and a diverse variety of native grasses and forbs grow that are healthy fodder for the animals that can also improve the quality of the meat.

    Our customers tell us the herbs are a good addition to taste, Wray said.

    They also raise Katahdin sheep that do well in the warm and humid climate. Lambs are also frequently rotated on pasture.

    Grass-fed producer was inspired by work in Third World countries - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

    Lets Grow Together! Eggs Among the Blue Grass – Shelbynews - April 5, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Getting ready for Easter required a quick walk around the yard to scan out the best lawn sites to hide the golden eggs. Some eggs can be placed anywhere. But, the Golden Eggs must be strategically in a location eliciting the most effort to be found. While on my search for the perfect hiding spot, I confess to multitasking and included a review of my lawn care basics for the upcoming season.

    Golden Egg in Grass

    Another confession, we do not have a Kodak Moment lawn. We have a yard. Our yard tolerates an array of stressful conditions; a Great Pyrenees named Betty, grandchildren having bonfires, ash trees dying, utility vehicle trails, and a collection of incomplete visions in various stages of development to name just a few. We have challenges but we love them. Ill take a fire scare any day if it means I get to hear the laughs and see the smiles of my family.

    Many seed choices are available. We choose Kentucky Blue Grass. Two considerations for grass seed selection are maintenance and site. I like to mow. I have a zero turn mower that takes me to a place of rainbows and unicorns. Our yard site is both sun and shade with areas of wet and dry. We do little maintenance outside of mowing. Yards are subject more to seasonal grass growing cycles and less with advertising schemes. Spring is here and is known as the rapid growth and greening cycle. We do not fertilize this time of year, usually. Nitrogen is naturally being released into the soil and will be sufficient for growth. The other seasonal grass cycles are Summer with slow growth and focus on irrigation. Fall is the cycle of root development and optimum for adding fertilizer. The Winter is when the grass becomes dormant and nutrients are stored for Spring. Our yard is an established yard and requires no significant seeding.

    We always have dandelions or broadleaf weeds. I am one who is not particularly bothered by this, but there are many who are and this is the time to research the pre-emergent applications. I refer you to this site for recommendations. Other methods that may impact weed control are proper techniques with mowing, irrigation, beneficial insects, and companion planting practices. Our mower deck height is set to cut at 3 inches. The blades are balanced and sharpened near a 45 degree angle and free from chips and bends. My mowing season begins as soon as the grass turns green. I am not one who bags my cuttings. Cuttings are beneficial when turned back into the soil.

    Being on the look-out for disease and insect damage to our yard is a simple scanning exercise. I know the typical look of our yard. My eyes scan for what is not right. Visuals that cause me to ponder disease or insect damage may be brown or bare patches, patterns with different color shades, unlevel terrain; too tall or too short, too wet or too dry. Odor is another trigger of concern. Sometimes, Betty (our Great Pyrenees) does not venture into the field and has been known to contribute to a brown or green spot in our yard. She has also been guilty of digging a familiar yard spot for comfort and relaxation. Not all scanning disturbances are disease and insect related. At our house, spilled ice melt salt, end of season mulch bags left outside, sand box lids left unattended and similar findings have led to false assumptions. Once human interference has been ruled out there are some disease and insect conditions that may require intervention: As for now, my yard has its typical look and one golden egg has not been uncovered for this year.

    See the article here:
    Lets Grow Together! Eggs Among the Blue Grass - Shelbynews

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