Society for
Organic Urban
Land Care

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  • 12 Oct 2017 7:48 AM | Anonymous

    Mulching is spreading organic, or inorganic, material over exposed soil to 

    protect soil and plants from the elements. In the warmer months mulch keeps 

    the soil cool so less water is lost to evaporation, in the cooler months it 

    insulates the ground. Additionally, mulch may also suppress weeds and

    prevent soil compaction and erosion. If it’s done properly, it can add a

    finished look to the garden. There are many benefits to mulching, but it

    needs to be done right.

    Both organic and inorganic mulch are available for your garden. Inorganic 

    mulch is not allowed under the SOUL organic standard. Organic mulch,

    however, will break down, adding organic matter to the soil.

    Spreading mulch

    • Start by clearing old mulch and debris like grass and twigs away from the area;
    • Around trees apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch, keeping it away from the trunk;
    • Around plants apply 1 to 3 inches of mulch;
    • Ensure mulch is flat and flush around the base of plants;
    • Too much mulch will attract rodents and cause root rot. Opt for total cover, but

    not more than a few inches thick.

    Types of Mulch

    Organic Mulch

    • Chopped leaves
    • Wood chips
    • Hay or straw
    • Compost
    • Seaweed

    Inorganic Mulch (not recommended under the SOUL Standards)

    • Rubber wood chips
    • Landscape fabric
    • Rocks

  • 12 Sep 2017 8:23 AM | Anonymous

    I recently moved to a Plant Hardiness Zone 6 and unlike my previous Zone 5, Japanese Beetles are 

    everywhere. My neighbour regularly plucks them off her rosebushes and, wanting to avoid 

    pesticides, asked me what else she can do. This little green and coppery-red beetle is all over 

    warmer parts of Canada and the  US. CFIA has protocols in place in Vancouver for handling 

    Japanese Beetle infestations without spreading them. In light of this, I thought I would share some

    findings on how to control, or at least limit the spread of, the Japanese Beetle.

    Japanese Beetles feast on the flowers and leaves of over 300 plants and trees. Not only that, a 

    female will lay approximately 50 eggs at a time, making it easy for numbers to get out of control. 

    Like all beetles they go through the egg, larvae (grub), pupae, adult life cycle. Fortunately, they are 

    susceptible to cultural, biological, and chemical defenses at different stages.

    In the grub stage:


    Milky Spore attacks the white grubs of the Japanese Beetle before it can develop into an adult, this 

    takes a couple of years to work, but will last for 10 years.

    Nematodes are beneficial against the Japanese Beetle with the most effective species being

    Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (commercially available as Heteromask, NemaSeek or Terranem).

    Starlings are the biggest aerial predator of Japanese beetle and will enjoy them as grubs or adults

    Chemical: Mix 2 tbsp dishwashing soap diluted in 1 ga of water and spread of 1000 sq ft. This will 

    force the grubs to the surface of the soil where predators will pick them up (choose soaps 

    made from animal or vegetable oils in accordance with the SOUL Standard).

    In the adult stage:

    Cultural: Knock the beetles into a bucket of soapy water, the soap will prevent them from flying 

    away and they will eventually drown.

    Chemical: Neem oil (the SOUL Standard allows neem oil when registered for use in Canada)

    Remember, pesky insects like the Japanese Beetle can be a sign that something isn’t right the 

    garden. Be sure to address overall soil and plant health and keep soil microbes happy. 

    Japanese Beetles also love turf grass, opting for real grass over turf may go a long way.

    For more information on Japanese Beetle and how to combat it, check out the sources below.


    Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, TN

    Planet Natural Research Centre

    The Spruce

    Gardeners Supply Company

  • 22 Aug 2017 12:37 PM | Anonymous

    Compost tea is a hot topic during the gardening season. Pumping air through a mixture of compost and water will draw the aerobic microbes on the compost into the mixture for ease of spreading on your garden and lawn. With the right ingredients, and a good brewer, compost tea is easy to make to promote soil and plant health.

    Making it: Using non-chlorinated water, good quality compost and microbe food, pump air through the mixture for 24-48 hours. Once the brewing is complete, it should be used within six hours to ensure the undesirable anaerobic microbes don’t take over. The tea can be used as is, or diluted to cover as much area as possible.

    The science: Pushing the air mixes the microbes from the compost into the water, where they flourish on oxygen and microbe food. Steeped tea (no air bubbles) may not sufficiently activate aerobic microbes, and anaerobic microbes could proliferate, creating an ineffective compost tea.

    Benefits of using compost tea:

    · Spray it directly on plant leaves to protect them from disease;

    · A little goes a long way, tea can cover a larger area than the same amount of compost on it’s own;

    · Your soil will love the extra microbes

    For more information about compost tea or to purchase a brewer visit

    The Organic Gardener’s Pantry (www.gardenerspantry.caor Smiling Gardener (


  • 16 Aug 2017 12:42 PM | Anonymous

    SOUL is seeking a part-time Executive Director. Reporting to the board of directors, the successful candidate will be an innovative, driven individual with strong leadership skills and experience with not-for-profit governance that will help take SOUL to the next level. Other qualifications should include securing funding, project management, and knowledge of the Organic Land Care Standards.

    This is a work from home position with a flexible schedule, some evening and weekend work may be required.

    Roles and responsibilities include:

    • Funding applications and contractual follow-up
    • Budget preparation and reporting
    • Developing outlines for connections and agreements with various groups
    • Creating educational opportunities or responding to requests for training
    • Developing educational and training programs for participants and for trainers,
    • Ensuring that the accreditation program(s) is(are) sound, that confidentiality is maintained, and that evaluation is geared to suitable levels of expertise
    • Undertake and/or evaluate research in related topics, for dissemination through SOUL channels or website or other documentation
    • Directing hired/contract staff as required in their work responsibilities
    • Providing leadership and liaison between staff and Board
    • Acting as the front person for the organization, or assisting Board and other Members in their activities as they represent the organization, on behalf of the Board
    • Participation in regular Board of Directors meetings. 

    Please submit your cover letter and resume by September 30 to

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