Van Zelst
Connect with us Pinterest houzz Google+

(847) 623-3580

Schedule My Free Consultation

    Your Email Address:

    Your Name:



    I Am Interested In:

    • Design/Installation

    • Maintenance/Garden Care

    • Hardscape/Pavers

    How I Heard About Van Zelst:

    • Referral

    • Saw Truck

    • Mailing

    • Advertisement

    • Website

    Your Comments:


    Make your bed!

    Soil amendments and bed preparation for display garden results.

    What is your soil made of?

    The structure and make-up of what our plants grow in is of utmost importance.  Before we expect our perennial favorites to put on a dazzling show we must make sure we have the proper conditions available for the plants.  According to the Horticultural staff at the Chicago Botanic Garden:

    The physical composition of ideal garden soil may surprise you. It should be 50 percent physical matter (45 percent soil aggregates like clay, silt, or sand and 5 percent humus/organic matter, meaning decaying plant and animal waste/remains). One quarter (25 percent) should be water. And the remaining 25 percent is—here’s the surprise—simply air.

    This breakdown may change your view of the ground/soil that you expect your plants to perform in.  It illustrates the importance in not just fertilizing your plants for performance, but creating a sub-surface micro climate that allows these elements to be present.

    Good Garden Practices.

    How does this translate to real garden practices?  Get into your beds and dig around!  When you are weeding, get a little aggressive in not just getting the deep roots of the weed with a trowel or spade, but cultivate the earth around to allow more air to enter the soil structure, more water to penetrate and the organic soil amendments you add later will leach into the lower layers more readily.

    Dig and divide perennials every 3-5 years to break up hard pan soils that may have developed over a number of years around established plants due to a lack of tools hitting the area for a proper cultivation.  A true gardeners soil structure is built up in layers over a number of years from frequent activity and aeration, or is professionally cultivated on an annual basis. Typically the best performing gardens in our Midwestern soil, which can be clay heavy in many areas, are those that have hand and tools in them many times a year weeding, planting and adding organic matter to the top for continual addition of nutrients.

    What is Vermicompost?

    Speaking of organic matter, Vermicompost, which has been mentioned here many times before, is one of the best sources of concentrated organic matter on the planet. We even have sample packs or both Vermicompost and Vermi extract we make available to you if you schedule a landscape consultation with one of our Horticulturalists or Landscape Architects at your property. If you want to purchase this amazing natural organic soil amendment for your own gardening purposes, it is available for pick-up at our Wadsworth location; from bags of compost, to bulk orders and services for applications of Vermi extract, we can get feed your plants like they are the kings of the neighborhood landscape you always envisioned them as!

    Check out Terra One Organics for more information.

    In summary, feed the soil, not the plant for the best results in your own garden.  Continually monitor the elements of the soil structure you are building and make sure that you are not just adding chemicals to the beds expecting results, but giving the soil the air, water and life it needs to allow the plants to grow in the most important place of all, below the surface.

    Feed the soil, not the crop   -Robert Rodale

    This entry was tagged with , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    More worm talk!

    We have mentioned Vermicompost many times before because we stand behind this process and how it can change your lawn and garden’s health. We believe in it so much that we have become an authorized dealer.  You are welcome to pick some up at our office or we can ship it to you, check out Terra One Organics for more information.

    But if you really want to try something new, you can start up your very own worm factory! Your ‘pet’ worms are very low maintenance and your garden will thank you by producing beautiful, lush vegetables, plants, and flowers all summer long. Check out the steps below and get started! You will be extremely happy with the results.

    Worm Factory – First, purchase one pound of Red Wigglers from a reputable source and a worm factory. Worm Factory 360 is a great brand. There are many how-to videos on YouTube that helped me in the beginning.  Select a location in your home for your new worm home (you can’t leave them outside if you live in a climate that will get below freezing).  Our worm house is located in our basement.

    Red Wigglers (pets!)

    Worm Factory 360

    Food – Next, you need to create a moist, comfortable environment where they can eat and produce. Shredded newspaper will provide air, water, and food for the worms. Avoid using colored print, which may be toxic to the worms.  Mix in shredded kitchen waste (vegetables) for a food source for them.  By adding coffee grounds with the food scraps will help eliminate odor.

    Vegetable scraps and coffee grounds

    All the scraps blended together for the perfect environment.

    Moisture – Make sure when you add the shredded newspaper to spray it down with water to keep their home moist. A moisture tester is helpful to know exactly it’s it too wet or dry.

    Newspaper and water

    Extra Nutrients –  Worms are very low maintenance. They can go up to 3 weeks without food. I usually feed them once a week. I also like to  sprinkle a spoonful of ground up eggshells with their food. This serves a dual purpose.  Crushed shells from eggs can help neutralize the pH level of the bedding and it is said that calcium plays an important roll in worm reproduction.  Sometimes they eat better than me!

    Incorporating ground egg shells

    Harvest Time – The factory works as a set of trays (layers),  when the top feeding trays fill up add a layer to the factory. Continue the process as listed above and your worms will migrate to this new layer (tray) this will take a few weeks so be patient. Harvest your compost from the bottom tray and add to your garden! Most importantly, learn about the soil microbiome: healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy people.  Have fun and enjoy!

    Final product, rich dark vermicompost!

    This entry was tagged with . Bookmark the permalink.

    How’s your wormery?

    Yeah I said wormery. It’s a word, here look it up -> wormery. Did you know worm castings (ok poop) are an ideal soil conditioner? Research proves that these high-performance products introduce important macro- and micro-nutrients into the soil, nourishing plants and fighting disease and pests. Worm castings, or Vermicompost, are the by-product of using various worm species to transform organic matter into a weed- and disease- free product.

    What are its unique benefits? The worms do the work for you.

    Vermicompost Benefits:

    a. TURN: Like tiny plows, they work their way throughout the material.
    b. AERATE: They add oxygen for all the beneficial microorganisms.
    c. MIX: All kinds of organisms and nutrients throughout the pile adding lots of small aggregates.
    d. SCREEN: They eat the bedding materials and the feed, ultimately turning it into a rich soil product.
    e. PATHOGEN CONTROL: They ingest and render useless the “bad guys”.
    f. FAST: They can eat one-half of their weight per day.

    Also you can check out our website for more information as well! Get your vermicompost this spring and have the best lawn & garden on your block!

    Click here to learn more…

    This entry was tagged with . Bookmark the permalink.
    Van Zelst
    Connect with us Pinterest houzz Google+


    Or complete this form: