The 12 Days of Compost

ICYMI, Here is An Encore Presentation of Your Favorite Laurel Valley Soils Team Members Presenting The 12 Days of Compost!

 

And no video is complete without its Bloopers!  Check out The 12 Days of Bloopers here!

Stormwater Soils: Which Mix is Right for Your Project?

Stormwater management BMP’s (Best Management Practices) are part of every new construction project. Installation of Bio-retention basins and rain gardens is a common method used for capturing storm water.

The general design of a basin or rain garden can vary.  Some basins incorporate stone drainage layers and filter fabric below the engineered soil filter layer (Bio-retention soil) and some do not.  The Bio-retention soil can also vary quite a lot in the design composition of the component mixture.

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Below are examples of projects we worked on this past year in which every basin utilized a different type of Bio-retention soil, however the end goal was always the same: to capture the water before it can leave a site, filter out contaminants and then infiltrate the water deep into the ground.  The reasons why there are so many different types of Bio-retention soils being utilized today include:

  1. Bio-retention soils are a new technology and the designs are still evolving.
  2. Different site and soil conditions often require different approaches.
  3. Municipalities and managing agencies often have different specifications.

Sound complicated?  Not to worry!  Engineered soils is what we do.  We are the experts, and are here to help you navigate this rapidly evolving world of storm water management.  Call us at 610-268-5555 or email Jake Chalfin, Sales Manager, at jake@lvsoils.com.
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Stormwater – From Waste to Resource

Historically land development projects were designed with the objective of maximizing the built space within both the building footprint and the parking area, with little consideration given to much else. As the built environment has grown over the history of our country we have seen urban flooding events grow in both regularity and destructiveness.

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Now that land planners, engineers and architects have learned the negative repercussions of what too much impervious surface can do during a storm event, much care is being taken to ensure proper ecological storm water management tools are implemented in most new building projects.

Passive storm water capture systems like rain gardens, bio-retention basins, bio-swails and tree pits are all tools that prevent surface run off from leaving a site.  At the same time these features filter and clean the water and infiltrate it back into the natural ground water system.

These biological storm water capturing tools can actually enhance the aesthetics of the landscapes for the buildings and even qualify the builder for LEED Certification Credits.

Stormwater Basin containing custom designed Laurel Valley Soils at Philly’s Central Green at the Navy Yard

Central Green at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

The steady and methodical reinvention and redevelopment of the Philadelphia Naval Yard is at the center of Philadelphia’s burgeoning tech economy.  While the beautiful turn of the century campus provided a great canvas for new buildings and landscapes it also proved to have a host of challenges.

First, the entire landmass is man-made, built from river dredge and mainland soil spoils.   Mix in concern over soil contamination from the years the naval base was in full wartime operations, and the fact that below this less than desirable ground is a high water table containing brackish water, and the challenges of this site would have made many developers take a pass on the project.  But not Liberty Property Trust!  They saw the vision of this site, knew the potential and acted boldly.

In order to ensure a successful and functional landscape for the Central Green public landscape project, Soil Scientist Tim Craul was brought in.  He determined that higher quality functional soils were needed and would have to be imported to the site.  He specified a two-layer soil system containing a course drainage layer located below a finer, slightly more organic surface/planting layer. Together the soil layers work to support plant life, while also maintaining optimum soil moisture and filtering and infiltrating storm water.   Working closely with Tim Craul through a rigorous testing process, we were able to create and manufacture soils that met these criteria.

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Before and After by C. Caramanico and Son at Central Green at the Navy Yard

Our longtime client C. Caramanico and Sons performed the installation.  Over 3,000 yards of Laurel Valley custom soil was spread to create a six acre park-like setting integrated with a state of the art storm water management system.  This area, referred to as a “social space” is used daily by employees of the various Naval Yard businesses.  The landscape is a beautiful sanctuary for people to enjoy, play in, and unwind amongst aesthetically pleasing yet functional bio-swales and rain gardens seemingly hidden right before your eyes. The award winning landscape was designed by James Corner Field Operations, most recognized as being the Project Lead on NYC’s famous High Line, and is a wonderful example of what the future of urban storm water management is all about.

DRY Laurel Valley Soils and Compost: Like It Never Even Rained!

May 2016 Was the 10th Rainiest May Since 1900.

But it didn’t stop our customers, because no matter how WET it was yesterday, we will deliver DRY topsoil and compost today!

Laurel Valley Soils 15,000 Cu Yd covered Dirt Shed

Laurel Valley Soils Enriched Topsoil is ALWAYS dry!

With 15,000 cu yd of covered topsoil storage and 30,000 sq ft of production capacity for blending custom engineered soils used for bioretention basins, rain gardens, green roofs and general stormwater management, we definitely have you covered!!!  As soon as you are able to get back out on the job site, we have dry soil and compost ready and waiting to be delivered to your location.  No more dealing with wet product, or delaying work while waiting for it to dry out.

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Our Enriched Topsoil contains our nutrient-rich Premium Compost, which provides the following benefits:

  • Improves soil structure
  • Adds organic nutrients
  • Stabilizes pH
  • Improves disease resistance
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms, bacteria and fungi
  • Increases soil’s cation exchange capacity, helping the plant to absorb more nutrients from the soil

Want to learn more about ways customers have used Laurel Valley Soils?  Check out our blog post  “Jake and Suzanne Go Site Seeing in Philly

 

 

Cool Facts for National Learn About Composting Day!

 

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So to help you celebrate, and to provide great Memorial Day Party Conversation Topics, Here are 5 Awesome “CLICKS ABOUT COMPOST”!

  1. How does COMPOST help SOIL?
  2. How does COMPOST give your neighbors LAWN ENVY???
  3. Composting 101—a Five Minute Overview
  4. Healthier Plants, Less Watering, Less Disease??? Tell Me More!!!
  5. I want some compost! Where can I get it???

And we wish you a very happy and safe Memorial Day, too!

Just think–with all your party scraps, it may be the perfect time to start your compost pile!

Jake and Suzanne Go “Site” Seeing in Philly!

“Site” Seeing is not a typo!  Jake and I were attending an event hosted by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council in Philly, and decided to make a day out of it by visiting Laurel Valley Soils “sites” throughout the city!

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Our morning meeting wrapped up with a tour of Central Green, the 5 acre park located in the middle of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.   This oasis contains lifestyle amenities for the 10,000+ person local work force and includes a fitness station, amphitheater, a hammock grove, bocce courts, ping-pong tables, a huge communal table, and a bioretention basin for stormwater management.  As you can see in the photo below, this is not your Daddy’s bio basin!  We are extremely proud to have provided the soil to help create this masterpiece of function and beauty!

Central Green Bio Basin

After the Central Green festivities were done, Jake and I headed out, with compost cam and gps at the ready, to check out our dirt piles all around the city!

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has hundreds of PHS Vacant Land Site projects, and the photos below showcase five of them, after they have been cleared of debris and received our soil delivery.

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Below is a great photo, as it shows the various stages of Vacant Land Site completion.  In the background, you can see where the debris has been cleared, and a pile of soil that has just been delivered. Then you see a lot where the soil has been spread, and in the foreground is a fenced space that was completed in past seasons.

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Next was Rodin Square, where Laurel Valley Soils custom blended the soil for rooflite, and the mix is being used for tree planting on a roof garden, around a to-be-installed pool!  Soil must be blown up to the roof site, as shown in the photo below.

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Our final stop was at the Pennovations site, where Laurel Valley Soils are being used for several bioretention basins as well as for planting trees.

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Want us to grab the compost cam and visit YOUR installation?  Call us!

Until our next site seeing trip…..

 

Want LAWN ENVY??? Apply STA-Certified Compost!!

Do you know how the best looking lawns in the neighborhood get that way?

According to Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World, it always begins with a generous topdressing of STA Certified Compost!  It’s the most readily available, economical, and stabilized form of organic matter on the market today.

Joe Lamp’l discusses how to topdress your lawn with compost in the video here:

 

 

Why Choose Laurel Valley Compost?

Like Top Chefs, We Know That Quality Ingredients, Blended Perfectly,

Create MASTERPIECES!

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Compost can be derived from many different types of materials, including yard trimmings, food scraps, leaves, manure, and post-harvest mushroom compost.  In the previous two blogs, we discussed why you should use compost, and why you should use STA Certified Compost.  Here, we are going to explain the benefits of using post-harvest mushroom compost from Laurel Valley Soils.

Many types of compost are made using whatever unused products are available at that time, sort of like when your Mom would make soup from all the leftovers at Thanksgiving.  Creating Laurel Valley Soils Compost is more like baking your Great Grandmother’s famous, award-winning upside-down carrot, macadamia and bourbon cake.  It requires using only the finest ingredients and carefully following the recipe, as there are high expectations on the line!

Because our compost is initially created to grow fresh mushrooms, we follow a strict formula containing only the highest quality, purchased and inspected ingredients including hay, straw, recycled horse bedding, cocoa shells, poultry litter, corn cobs, and gypsum.  After the crop of mushrooms is complete, we take back the post-harvest mushroom compost, let it compost down some more, and then upcycle it as premium compost or repurpose it to create enriched topsoil.

So why should YOU specifically select Laurel Valley Compost? What separates LVS from the crowd?

  • STA Certified: which means it meets the quality and consistency requirements of the US Composting Council
  • PA Certified Organic
  • Stored indoors.
  • Screened and Dry
  • Consistent recipe = consistent reliable performance
  • DNREC and PennDOT Approved
  • Punctual delivery for wholesale clients
  • Widely distributed through garden centers for homeowners

At Laurel Valley Soils, we specialize in providing the exact product you need, including creating custom engineered soil blends.  Whether you are looking for straight compost, compost-enriched topsoil, or blends for bio-retention basins, rain gardens or any other need, we have the skill, expertise and experience to meet all your project requirements.

STA Certified Compost–The Cream of the Crop!

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Good Housekeeping, Energy Star, United Laboratories, USDA Organic.  These icons invoke a comfort level; a feeling of trust, safety and quality endowed on the products that carry these coveted seals of approval.

For compost, the United States Composting Council is the governing body which sets the standards for this product.  Like the certifications listed above, the Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) assures you that the compost products you are purchasing meet all the quality requirements set forth by the USCC by independently testing products on a regularly scheduled basis.

So how does the STA Program work?

  • STA Certified compost products are tested on a regular schedule, which assures the production of consistently high quality products.
  • Test results are completed independently by appointed accredited laboratories, and available upon request from, the US Composting Council and the manufacturer, for your peace of mind knowing exactly what you are buying.
  • STA products meet or exceed all related product quality and testing requirements prescribed by state and/or federal regulations, assuring you purchase a safe, eco-friendly product.

Because compost can be created from many different types of feedstocks, and with some manufacturers the components can vary dramatically from one batch to another, it is important to purchase compost that has been STA Certified.  You want to make sure that your soil receives a safe, healthy and nutritional amendment.

Here is where you can purchase STA Certified compost at an Eastern PA/NJ/DE metro region garden center near you, or ask your lawn care provider to apply Laurel Valley Soils Compost and Compost-Enriched Topsoil.  If you are a business interested in purchasing our products wholesale, please contact us at 866-LV-SOILS.

 

The Secret Behind Pinterest-Worthy Gardens

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Think Gardens Like This Only Exist on Pinterest???

Not So! The simple, not so secret, secret ingredient behind robust gardens is COMPOST!

And don’t worry—if you don’t make your own compost, you can buy Premium STA Certified Compost at your local Garden Center.

Adding compost to soil provides the following benefits:

  • Increases the organic matter content of your soil
  • Improves soil structure allowing for both better percolation and moisture retention.
  • Adds organic nutrients
  • Stabilizes pH
  • Improves disease resistance
  • Supplies beneficial microorganisms, bacteria and fungi
  • Increases soil’s cation exchange capacity, helping the plant to absorb more nutrients from the soil

As a reminder to apply compost to improve the health of soil and the plants it grows, The US Composting Council has developed the “Strive for 5” Campaign.

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Most native soils contain between 1-3% organic matter, which is too low to grow!

Increasing SOM (Soil Organic Matter) to 5% or higher provides the benefits outlined above, and creates the ideal conditions to grow beautiful and healthy lawns, turf, flowers and vegetables.  And to top it off—applying just 2” of compost in lieu of the traditional 6” of topsoil can reduce project material cost by up to 2/3!  Now you know why it is referred to as “Black Gold”.

To celebrate the beginning of International Compost Awareness Week, (ICAW), here is a cool video featuring Joe Lamp’l, host of Growing a Greener World, discussing the benefits of using compost in your yard.

Need Help?  Have questions?  Have photos of you compost projects?  Contact Us!

We’re Taking Compost to New Heights–95 ft Above Chestnut Street!

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Cira Green, Philadelphia’s first elevated public park and first blue-green roof, is a 1.25 acre park located on top of Cira Centre South in University City, which sits ninety-five feet above street level!  The oasis was built on a parking garage roof which overlooks Center City, University City and the Schuylkill River, and is an integral element in developing the Schuylkill River Greenway. The roof is both “blue” and “green,” with the blue roof  located under the paved walking areas to provide storm water management by capturing rain water which is then directed to irrigate the planted “green roof” areas.

Laurel Valley Soils was founded in 1979 by a handful of the nation’s leading mushroom growers who had the foresight before “sustainability” was a hot keyword to realize the opportunities available for upcycling their abundant, high organic matter, post-harvest mushroom compost. “Mushroom farmers from around the world visit our 120 acre facility located in the Mushroom Capital of the World to learn how to emulate our state-of-the-art practices.  We feel great pride to be leaders not only in mushroom compost production but environmental stewardship” notes our own Joseph DiNorscia, Manager of Laurel Valley Soils.

450 cubic yards of our “black gold” was blended into the growing media provided by rooflite® and used for Cira Green’s various green roofs as well as lawn areas and planters containing trees and perennials.

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When selecting a location to kick off the nationally-focused 2016 International Compost Awareness Week being held May 1-7, 2016 and features the theme: Compost – The Soil and Water Connection,  the “blue” & “green” Cira Centre South was the perfect choice.  Events, including tours and education highlighting the benefits of incorporating compost into the engineered soils required for green roof projects are scheduled nationwide throughout the week.

DiNorscia, in conjunction with The US Composting Council (USCC), The Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF), The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and other notable industry leaders are kicking off the celebration on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 1:30pm at Cira Green with a summary of how this project was constructed and the role of compost in its success.

As a visitor to Cira Green, it’s hard to imagine that this complete aerial ecosystem is man-made and was previously a parking garage roof.  But one thing is for sure – with the warm weather upon us, it is proving to be a popular and dynamic green space in the city for all to enjoy!

Want to attend the ICAW Kickoff Event at Cira Green on Tuesday, May 3, 2016?  Contact me!  We would love to see you there!

Suzanne Longacre

Suzanne@LaurelValleySoils.com

866-LV-SOILS