b'MulchingHere are some simple things we can do in our Mulch is a protective covering of compost, straw, grass clippings, or leaves placed aroundhouses and gardens.plants.Many homeowners also like to use seaweed.Mulch can add nutrients, make the soil more workable, aid rainwater penetration, help control weeds, and improve the moisture-retaining capacity of the soil near roots.Mulch also minimizes losses of nutrients and topsoil.Root zones of newly planted trees and shrubs should be mulched to a depth of about 2 to the drip-line, except for the area directly adjacent to the trunk. Avoid using landscaping plastic beneath decorative rock or bark as it impedes the infi ltration of rainwater into the soil.Fertilizing The watchword here is to use as little as possible, if any.Excess nutrients from fertilizer can leach through the soil into thegroundwater, or may be washed by rain into storm drains.These nutrients can contaminate our drinking water and cause algal blooms in ponds and estuaries.By using good gardening principles, you can limit the amount of fertilizer.If you do fi nd that additional nutrients are necessary to supplement the soil, chose an organic, slow-release, water-insoluble fertilizer and use sparingly or use compost from your compost pile or obtain free from the Chatham Transfer Station at 97 Sam Ryder Road.Composting Compost is a dark, crumbly, and earth-smelling form of decomposing organic matter.Perfect for mulch, compost enriches soil and improves plant growth.Composting is a practical way to transform yard, kitchen, and garden wastes into a valuable resource.In Chatham, you can choose to compost these wastes yourself, or you can take grass clippings, leaves and pine needles to the Chatham Transfer Station for free with a Transfer Station permit; brush can be brought there for a fee.The town turns your yard waste into compost and mulch, which is available free to anyone with a permit.Homeowners should consider the option of creating their own compost system since composting is also the answer for up to 10% of your garbage created by food wastes other than meat, bones and fatty foods.Composting bins and kitchen scrap buckets are available to the public from the Town of Chatham at a bargain price through a grant from the MA Department of Environmental Protection; contact the Department of Health & Environment at (508) 945-5164 or the Transfer Station (508) 945-5156.Pest ManagementFor years, pest control has meant chemicals. Once viewed as safe and eff ective for insect control, chemical pesticides are now considered ecologically harmful. They poison wildlife, contaminate water and soil, and harm humans, especially children, and pets.Many pesticides last a long time. When they enter the aquatic system, they can move from place to place, causing problems all along the way. Pesticides poison wildlife and contaminate surface andAfter planting adapted plant varieties, providing the necessary nutrients and moisture, and groundwater. following through with good maintenance practices, gardeners should determine the threshold level of weeds or insect damage they are willing to accept. Setting our pest tolerance too low results in unnecessary treatments and possible environmental damage. Most pests are not life threatening to the plant and merely cause aesthetic, but not permanent problems. When considering a treatment, the goal is not to eradicate the pest, but to use the least toxic treatment that will drop the pest level below whatever threshold we have established.Page 46 bluepages.indd 46 8/26/2009 1:52:25 PM'