Friday, June 1, 2018

Ode to a Worm

Digging in the dirt, I am reminded of your beauty
You wriggle quickly away from my spade
Please stay!
You are the air in my soil
You make it loose and richly brown
You add the nutrients my baby plants need
Thank you, my garden friend
And Happy Mother-Father’s Day!

You know your garden soil is healthy when it is alive with worms, but did you know the micro-nutrients produced through their castings are the true stars of compost? The earthworms in our yard tunnel through the soil providing vital air while increasing the micronutrients available to our plants.

If you can’t get enough good compost, perhaps are landlocked in an apartment or condo, you may want to try vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is done inside with special worms called "red wigglers." These worms are different than our earthworms and cannot survive in the heat of our summer or our frigid winters.  Their home is a bin you can make. The worm casting they provide are dense with microorganisms that in-turn provide an abundance of micro-nutrients our plants need to grow strong and fight diseases.

If you’d like more information about these special composters, please join us at the Civic Garden Center the evening of Tuesday, June 19. We are partnering with the Civic Garden Center to hold a special worm bin workshop where you can learn how to vermicompost and can even build your own worm bin if you choose. Learn more when you click here.

Post by guest-blogger and compost-lover Jenny Lohmann

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Children’s Books to Spark Composting Curiosity

Guest blogger Angela Rivera

As parents, grandparents, teachers, and neighbors, we hope the children in our lives carry on some of the habits we teach them growing up. Composting is no exception. In today’s blog I suggest three books to share with your young ones to inspire passion about, and get them helping with, composting! All three of these books are available at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The Little Composter by Jan Gerardi (2010) is a great resource to engage your toddler. With flipbook pages that allow for even the youngest child to partake in the book, this book reviews a few of the items we can put in the compost bin. And for those kids beginning to read, the story is written in rhyme! Although simple, if you remember back when you first started to learn about composting, answering “what should go in the bin?” was where we all began!

Compost Stew: an A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary Mckenna Siddals (2010) makes an excellent book that lists items we can compost for each letter of the alphabet. The reading level is for upper elementary, but the content is aimed at younger elementary aged children, making it a great read-aloud story! With this book, you can encourage children to take responsibility for where they should put their food scraps.

Garbage Helps our Garden Grow: A Compost Story by Linda Glaser (2010) follows a group of children on their composting endeavor. The book explains how composting can divert organic material from the garbage and make something useful out of it. This is a great nonfiction text that demonstrates for your child not only what goes in our compost bin/site, but explains the entire process of how to make compost and what we can do with it!  This book is intended for upper elementary age students.

As you embark on your summer of composting, get youth involved! They are our future composters after all!

Did we miss your favorite children’s composting book? Leave the title and author in the comments. Be on the lookout this fall for a blog post about great composting books for adults! 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Three Ways to Celebrate Composting Awareness Week

Whoop whoop! Hey there, composting peeps! Did you know that this week is International Compost Awareness Week? 

Here are three easy ways to spread the composting love and celebrate this week.

  1. Give your own compost a little attention. Now is a great time to turn or aerate those piles to avoid odors and speed up your compost. As you pull all those spring weeds, toss them in the compost bin or leaf pile to reap the benefits of all that nitrogen.
  2. Tell your friends and family about our free composting class this week. On Thursday, May 10 we will be in Deer Park with a one-hour Get the Dirt on Backyard Composting. You can share the event on Facebook.
  3. Make sure everyone knows your deep love of composting by proudly displaying an “I heart Compost” magnet. If you want to pick one up for free from our office, just shoot me an email

Wear your “compost geek” badge proudly this week, fellow composters; it is our week to shine. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Does Our Prolonged Winter Affect My Compost?

Guest Post from Brad Miller

As I was taking the compost out in my winter jacket in mid-April, I started wondering how this delayed spring has impacted my compost pile. Spring has definitely been slow to arrive this year as noted by four measurable snowfalls in April.

As with most of the spring flowers and trees, the composting process in your pile has been slow to get going. No need to worry though. Warmer temperatures are arriving and your compost pile will be back on track in no time.

The optimist in me says:

Just remember to keep mixing in your food scraps and coffee grounds. Now that the weather is a little warmer, you can start turning your pile.

By fall, you will have a compost material which can be added to your gardens. 

Happy Composting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Are You a Zen Master?

Be a Zen master of your yard. You have the gift to use nature to reduce non-point source pollution when you choose to backyard compost. More on that after this commercial break…
It’s time to forward this post to your friends and family as we are once again holding our yearly compost seminars. Quick! It’ll only take a minute. Now! J

Okay, back to reducing potential pollution through composting.
So March 22 happens to be World Water DayI’m glad water has its own day, Earth Day just has so many issues already! This year’s theme is Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century - this is where composting comes in.
When you add compost to your yard, you improve the soils ability to absorb and retain water. Compost is light and fluffy and acts like a sponge, compared to our typical clay-heavy, compacted soil. When we have downpours, amended soil that is rich in compost has a greater ability to absorb more of the rain leaving less run-off going into our storm sewers and streams. 
Compost enriched soil has the added benefit of providing nutrients to our plants and strengthens their root systems so they can grow deeper. Compost gives you beautiful, healthy plants with less water and fertilization. Using less fertilizer also reduces the chance runoff will have chemicals that contribute to non-point source pollution in our water ways.
Congratulations my wise, forward-thinking friends.

Guest post from compost aficionado, Jenny Lohmann

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: