Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring Composting Tips

Are you as ready as I am to jump into spring? Warmer temperatures and more rain will make your compost pile jump into action – if you follow these tips.

  1. Moisture: Watch the moisture level of your pile. All of the spring rain can add too much moisture if your pile doesn’t have good drainage. You want your pile to be as wet as a wrung out sponge. Too much water will cause the pile to go anaerobic (a.k.a. stinky).
  2. Aeration: Once temperatures warm up, aerate your pile. Food scraps tend to accumulate over the long winter months since the pile is mostly dormant. When your pile unfreezes all of those food scraps will start to decompose at once. Aerating will keep that decomposition going and speed it up.
  3. Additions: Add weeds and plant trimmings to your pile. I always have some old decorative grasses or sedums from last year to add. 

Spring is a fantastic time to start a new compost pile or maintain your old pile. Pretty soon you will want to harvest that finished compost to start new beds and for early summer planting. Take advantage of your ambitious spring gardening attitude to compost everything you can.

Happy composting!

Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Compost Logs in Your Backyard

Large logs and branches generally do not work well with most backyard composting. They take years, sometimes decades, to break down and they fill up a lot of space. But if you find yourself with a bunch of branches or large logs and want to try something new, I have an idea for you: Hugelkultur.

Hugel-what-tur? Hugelkultur is a method of building a garden bed using decaying wood. As it decays, the wood supplies nutrients to the soil and acts as a sponge, soaking up water when available and slowly releasing that water to your plants. Neato.

This is what you need: wood and other bulky material like brush and vines, a shovel, and space.

Just dig a one foot deep trench. Place hardwoods, then softwoods, and then brush into the trench. You can  mound even higher with straw, manure, and more traditional compostables. Cover the whole thing with the soil you removed to dig the trench.

Now you have a sweet Hugelkultur mound. How cool are you?

Graphic credit: Rich Soil permaculture blog.
Hugelkultur originated in Germany and Eastern Europe and means "hill culture" in German. The idea replicates what naturally happens on the forest floor- trees falling, decaying, and building the soil. 

Avoid planting on the mound for at least a few months as the material decomposing on top will steal nitrogen from the surrounding soil at first and the mound will settle some. Your Hugelkultur mound may take 10 to 20 years for the wood to slowly decompose but that is the idea. This would be a great addition to a garden with really poor soil or for someone wanting a raised bed.

For more details on Hugelkultur, check out: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Scrap Pile Up

Raise your hand if your food scrap collection looks like this in the winter.

January teased us in Cincinnati, oscillating between absolutely frigid to almost balmy weather. I can take scraps out in snow or even cold, but freezing rain or biting winds? Nope. Those banana peels will just have to spend another day or two hanging out in my kitchen.

Although sometimes challenging, composting in winter has its benefits. The freeze and thaw actually breaks down your food scraps. And stockpiling all of those food scraps will mean when the warm weather hits for good in the spring, your pile will kick into high gear.

Follow these tips for winter composting and before you know it, spring will arrive.

Happy winter composting!!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Join a Special Screening of Anthony Bourdain Documentary

40% of food produced in America is wasted each year.  

While composting is a powerful action we can take to reduce food going to the landfill, we would rather see food eaten if possible. You can be part of the solution.

A recent documentary produced by Anthony Bourdain brings attention to the problem of wasted food and the steps toward change. You can see a special screening of “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste” on January 28, at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati.

We’ll be sponsoring the event, alongside our partners: Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, Edible Ohio Valley, La Soupe, Ohio River Valley's Chefs Collaborative, and The Madhouse Vinegar Co.

We hope you’ll join us for this screening and panel discussion, and walk away armed with more tools to fight wasted food. 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Year in the Life of a Leaf Bin

Every year massive oak trees blanket my backyard in a crisp, brown mat of leaves. Usually, I squirrel away as many as I can in my compost area. The remainder I squish into brown paper leaf bags for curbside collection. Lots and lots of leaf bags.

Last year I finally got sick of sending all of that beautiful compost fodder off to someone else and decided to try and compost it myself. I ended up building three leaf bins in addition to my black plastic beauty to hold all of the leaves. They were still overflowing so I sent a few bags to the curb. Progress comes in strides...

What better for a photo documentary than a leaf bin, right? Here we go:

November 2016:
It's raining leaves. Hallelujah, it's raining leaves. Hey, hey...

February 2017
The leaves dropped about two feet over winter. After cleaning up all of the surrounding leaves...

February 2017
...the bin is nearly full again.

May 2017
The pile shrank to half its original size. Keep on keeping on, leaf compost.

June 2017
I added the contents of another leaf bin to make room. I also added a super secret ingredient to speed up composting

September 2017
The compost is nearly finished. Like a custard filled doughnut, my compost is hiding a "delicious" secret surprise.

November 2017 Harvest Time!

Up close and personal with the leaf mold compost. A perfect mulch.

Any leaves not finished composting went into the new leaf bin (mostly those on the outside). All of my leaf bins are full again and I am happy to report no leaves went to the curb this year!

Do you compost your leaves? If you have any tips or tricks, leave them below.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Happy World Soil Day!

Of course we are the type of people who celebrate a day dedicated to soil. Here’s why:
  • Soil holds three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and can help us meet the challenges of a changing climate.
  • 815 million people are food insecure and 2 billion people are nutritionally insecure, but we can mitigate this through soil.
  • 95% of our food comes from soil.
  • 33% of our global soils are already degraded.

Facts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

What’s the best action you can take to give back to our soil? You guessed it: compost in your backyard.

Learn more about how compost heals your soil

Happy World Soil Day!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Save the Food’s GUEST-IMATOR is Thanksgiving’s BFF

The vast majority of us make too much food on Thanksgiving. Of course, while preparing, we have visions of all of the wonderful leftover dishes we will make. But after a solid week of turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, most of us are ready to toss everything and buy a round of burritos.

Enter the Guest-Imator

A fantastic tool developed by the Save the Food campaign to help us figure out how much turkey, stuffing, and everything else you actually need to make for your guests. The tool allows you to customize your planning based on the types of eaters, the type of meal, and how much leftovers you want.

The best part, it is EASY and FUN to use. Give it a try.


Of course, even perfect planning will likely leave us with scraps we need to compost. Check out our past Thanksgiving posts for tips on what you can and cannot compost on Thursday:

Happy Thanksgiving!