Hints For Success

Dealing with Fruit Flies

  • Fruit flies can sometimes be a problem around compost buckets or indoor earthworm bins. You can minimize fruit flies by keeping buckets covered and by carefully covering each addition of food (or at least fruit) scraps to your bin. To minimize the risk, avoid storing uncovered fruit in the same room.
  • Vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to control fruit flies. Turn on the vacuum, open the lid, and whoosh! watch them disappear. Empty the vacuum bag outdoors. Hanging old-fashioned, sticky flypaper strips above bins works for small numbers of flies.
  • Disposable, baited traps are now available from suppliers that sell organic controls. To make your own. make a paper funnel witli an opening no larger than lA inch (.6 cm). Pour ]A cup (60 ml) of beer into a jar. Set the funnel on top. Run tape around the top edge of the jar to eliminate any gaps between the jar and the funnel. Fruit flies will fly in and drown in the beer. Beer works better than fruit baits because the flies can't lay eggs in it. If you don't want to use beer, try molasses (its harder to wash out of the jar. though).


Sheet Composting

Sheet composting just means working horizontally, spreading material in wide layers (sheets) over the ground. It's very simple; you let earthworms and soil microbes do the composting and mixing. No bins, no turning. Any nutrients that leach will be absorbed by the soil below for future plant use. It's a great way to start a new bed, especially in a lawn — you skip the hard work of digging and removing sod. It s also great for lucky people who have more material to compost than they can keep up with.

All it takes is planning ahead.

Start your sheet compost six months before you want to plant. For a spring garden, start in fall. If you start in spring you can plant by late summer (compost works faster in warmer weather). Use the same ingredients as for any other type of compost. With heavy soil, you may eventually wish to double-dig (see page 141) or build raised beds (see page 139). Either will be much easier after six months of sheet composting loosens your soil! (For metric equivalents, see "Useful Conversions" on page 208.)


  • Lawn mower or string trimj
  • Pruning shears or saw (fi r woody plants)
  • Lots of newspaper or corru-I

gated cardboard

  • Limestone or sulfur
  • Ordinary compost materials (about 1V2 cubic yards/50 sq.


► Wood chips or other attractive mulch for top layer

Mow existing plants as short as possible, leaving clippings. Cut off any woody plants at ground level and chop into small pieces. If clippings are sparse, sprinkle a dusting of another nitrogen source over area (manure, alfalfa meal, or fresh grass clippings). If your soil's usually acidic, sprinkle some limestone; substitute sulfur for very alkaline soils. Sprinkle some granite meal to ensure a micronutrient supply if you wish.

Spread a weed-smothering layer of newspapers (8 to 10 sheets thick) or cardboard over area. Overlap edges by 4 inches so no weeds can poke through. Dampen new* papers to make them easier to work with.

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Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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