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Got Dirt? Science and Sustainability

Compost Corner: Gardener's Gold
Visit the Compost Corner at the Home Demonstration Gardens to discover how to turn yard and kitchen organic waste into rich, valuable compost. Learn the environmental importance of removing yard waste and leftover kitchen organics from the landfill stream and how to compost these materials instead.  Discover how adding compost in the soil helps plants and gardens flourish, and in the process, learn about all the critters that help make it happen. Find out how the Arboretum composts its waste and get helpful composting resources.

Watch the video below of Arboretum Operations Director Peter Moe talking with Fox 9 Morning News reporter M.A. Rosko about how to compost at the Compost Corner.

Real Dirt Lab
Successful gardeners know that plants thrive when soil's alive.  Stop by the Real Dirt Lab in the circular garden island fronting the Oswald Visitor Center to pick up tips on "growing" healthy soil, including how to test soil, a hands-on soil texture station and plantings that demonstrate the value of adding compost to your garden beds.  Visitors can compare sandy, silty and clay soils and find out how compost can improve plant growth in all these soil types.

Learn more about what's under foot at the University of Minnesota Extension Garden Soils and Compost website. Find informative publications about soil health and fertility and dealing with problem soils.

The soil testing laboratory at the University of Minnesota provides routine soil testing and fertilizer recommendation services to: homeowners, commercial vegetable/fruit growers, industrial lawn/landscape specialists, composters, and others. Download instructions on how to collect a sample and send it for testing or visit the soil test website.


Is Biochar Good for Home Gardens?
Watch for results as University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners evaluate garden beds amended with Biochar at the Arboretum this summer. Biochar is a carbon-rich, solid byproduct of pyrolysis, a process used to convert biomass into biofuel. But could biochar be a good soil amendment for home gardens? To answer this question, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners will test the productivity of vegetable and flower gardens amended with biochar at three Minnesota sites: the U of M St. Paul campus, in Anoka County, and at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Find the Arboretum test site at the Dahlia Trial Garden on Three-Mile Drive. Master Gardeners will observe plant growth and collect data and share what they learn with the public at various events statewide.

The CenUSA Bioenergy Project is a four-year national research project study funded by USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Other collaborators include the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, U of M Department of Horticultural Science, Anoka County Parks District. For more information: http://www.cenusa.iastate.edu/

Clean Water Summit

Green Infrastructure for Clean Water: The Essential Role of Soil
Thursday, September 13, 2012
$50 members/$60 non-members

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The 2012 Clean Water Summit will focus on the concept of "living" soil, how it functions, and the connection between healthy soil and clean water in our communities. Participants include municipal stormwater managers, policy makers, planners, and staff, soil and water professionals including designers, engineers, contractors and installers, developers, landscape architects, interested citizens, and many others. Find more information and register.