Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Bin Needed, Composting for the Beginner Composter!

Submitted by guest blogger Dawn Mays.

When I told my husband I was going to start a compost pile, he said, “But we don’t have a bin.” I told him I was going “old school” with my compost and making a true pile. (Hey – it worked for dad for DECADES and he was famous for the size and deliciousness of the tomatoes he grew with that compost…Who am I to mess with a proven method???).

So after doing a little reading from such things as A Simple Guide to Composting in your Backyard (and peeking at a few websites), I fearlessly set out to build my pile of gardening goodness.

Down went a layer of dried leaves (this is the brown material with lots of carbon). Now we are surrounded by oaks and their leaves can be a little harder to break down, so I went at them with  hedge clippers (it is all about making do with what you have on hand) to break them up and aid in their decomposition.

Next a layer of scrumptious veggie and fruit waste (those old carrots and grapes hiding in the back of the refrigerator and…well, you know where that is going…).  It is a good idea to have a kitchen container to keep your veggie/fruit scraps in but on days you are cleaning out the refrigerator (as I was today) you can just take the stuff right out to the compost pile and bury it. Rotten fruit and veggies may not be appetizing to you, but your compost pile LOVES them since they provide the green (nitrogen-laden) layer.

Bury it? Yes, after the veggie layer came a nice layer of dirt. It helps to keep the garden critters (bunnies and raccoons) from foraging in your compost for some tasty tidbits. Plus there are fun microorganisms in the dirt which help the composting process.  And this was topped with yet another layer of hedge-clipped oak leaves. A little sprinkle of water (the pile is supposed to be as damp as wrung-out sponge, so I just used a little water to hold down the top layer of leaves).

Voila! A Compost Pile!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Overwhelmed with Yard Trimmings? Here is a simple solution.

In a perfect world I would compost every last twig and leaf into beautiful crumbly compost right in my backyard. But sometimes our yards’ dish out more leaves, branches, and cuttings than our current backyard composting system can take. If you’re like me, the thought of those yard trimmings sitting unappreciated in a landfill is too awful to bear, so what can we do?

Let me introduce you to my friend, the free Yard Trimmings Drop-Off sites.

Yard Trimmings Drop Off Sites

Every year, Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District have three free drop offs for Hamilton County residents. You can bring extra leaves, branches (cut into 4 feet and no larger than 12 inches in diameter), trimmings from plants, and brush to the sites.

The material will be ground up and then composted by one of our partner companies.

The three sites are located in Anderson Township, Colerain Township, and Green Township. Check out the Yard Trimmings website for guidelines, hours, and other details.

Curbside Collection in Your Community

But, you say, I don’t live close to any of those drop off sites! Do you want me to strap branches to the roof of my Miata and fill the trunk with leaves?

Um, I guess not. Good point.

Your community may offer curbside collection of yard trimmings and then either compost the material themselves or bring it to a commercial composter. We have all the Hamilton County communities listed and what programs they offer here:

Over the years, I have used both of these outlets to compost material beyond my backyard pile (this includes filling up the back of my small Subaru hatchback with brush). Neither the drop-offs or the curbside collection will accept food scraps, so you'll have to make room for them.
Just remember to save enough leaves so you don’t run out in the summer and end up begging your neighbors to “borrow” some of their leaves.

 Happy spring, everyone!!!

A creative way to haul your leaves.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Could Deer Be Good For Your Garden?

So, I’m driving home a few weekends ago, pull in my driveway, and what do I see?  Five big deer staring at me.  Being the nature lover and city dweller that I am, I love seeing those beautiful brown-eyed animals trotting around my yard.  I know, I know, they eat hostas, tomatoes, and, let’s face it, about anything you want to grow yet I still love having them around.
Staring at these deer face-to-face got me thinking: what happens to their poop?  (A question that I am sure has popped in your head from time to time – admit it). I mean, we have a lot of deer in our yard and a lot of plants, so naturally I assume we have a lot of deer poop.  But, I didn’t even know what deer poop looked like.  After a quick Google search, I immediately apologized to the teeny tiny dog down the street that I’ve been blaming for the poop.  Then, I thought, could this poop be put to a better use than throwing it away? 

O.k., o.k., I’m getting to the composting part.

Can you backyard compost deer poop?  
Short answer: turns out, you can.  Deer are herbivores, so their poop shouldn’t have harmful pathogens in them.

What’s the catch?
There’s always a caveat, right? You still want to make sure your compost pile gets hot enough to kill any nastiness in the poop as there have been reports of deer eating meat occasionally. 
Just like in other “areas of our life”, you want to be regular… with turning your pile that is. Now that spring is officially here, break out that pitch fork and start turning.

And, by the way, when handling your compost, wear gloves.  Let’s be serious, we all love talking about poop but don’t want to touch it.

Back to one of my first questions:  yes, deer poop can be put to good use.  How’s that for a silver lining the next time deer are chomping on your award-winning hostas?
Guest Post from our Mystery Blogger. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to Compost Like a Leprechaun

Pretty soon the Irish, Irish descendants, and everyone who wishes they were Irish will be celebrating the “greenest” holiday of the year, St. Patrick’s Day. Before joining in the celebration, I decided to catch a leprechaun and forgoing the normal wishes, I instead asked him to give me three of his best composting tips. Take a gander at what the little man said:

1. Wear Green

If a three-piece green suit isn’t your style, consider showing your love of composting with one of our "I heart Compost" bumper magnets. Available at our upcoming compost seminars or by emailing me.

2. Store your “Gold” in a “Pot”

Using the right compost bin will keep your materials organized, keep the pile moist, and help the compost heat up.

3. Even Your Compost Likes Beer

Although unlikely to jump up and dance a jig, your compost heap could use your leftover and stale beer to speed up decomposition. The Irish even call Guinness “black stuff.” Coincidence? I think not.

I like to imagine that at end of my rainbow there is a beautiful finished pile of compost, freshly screened, just waiting to be used in my garden.
Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t forget to compost your shamrocks when it’s over. J

You composted me Lucky Charms.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Attend a Backyard Composting Seminar

The Top 10 Reasons to Attend a Backyard Composting Seminar are... 

10) They teach you how easy it is to compost

9) You feel guilty adding more to the landfill when it can be made into something great for your soil

8) You have tried to compost and you can’t figure out why it isn’t working

7) You really just want that kitchen collector to adorn your counter top

6) The handy compost guide is the perfect 10 minute read

5) Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District is a leader in the State in educating people to reduce waste

4) Your plants will thank you for it

3) Our clay soil needs this organic matter

2) You want to be part of the exclusive set proudly sporting an “I ♥ Compost” bumper sticker

1) No matter how dedicated you are to zero waste, you just can’t bear to eat the skin of a kiwi

For more information and to register click here .

submitted by guest blogger, Jenny

Friday, February 14, 2014

Worm Bin Composting

The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out …

Are you able to finish this tune from childhood? Back then worms gave me the heebie-jeebies, now I adore these animals. My two favorite happen to be the common earthworm that aerates and conditions our soil outside and the Eisenia fetida, also known as (and easier to say), red wigglers.

Originally from Europe, red wigglers are not tunnelers like those beauties I find in my garden soil, but flourish in rotting vegetation and are ideal for a contained system. These special worms create vermicompost which is jam-packed with nutrients.

Tools needed for a worm bin:
•    A plastic container with air holes drilled in the bottom and sides
•    A pound of red wigglers
•    Shredded paper or leaves dampened with de-chlorinated water for bedding
•    Fruit and vegetable scraps

Of course there is so much more to learn about vermicomposting and you can find a plethora of information on the web; in the book Worms Eat My Garbage , by Mary Appelhof; or even by attending a worm bin workshop.

Gotta go tend to my vermi-wormies!

Blog post created by Jenny

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It’s Never Too Cold to Compost

It’s been quite a winter around here. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Bring on spring!”

Since that darn groundhog saw his shadow leaving us with six more weeks of winter, we all need a little motivation to keep composting. As a passionate composter, I believe it’s never too cold to compost.

I asked some of my coworkers who are fellow composters how they stay motivated to take out the food scraps and tend to the compost piles in the winter time.

Here are the top ten thoughts and tips on composting in the cold:

{drum roll, please!}

10. Your dog has to go out there, share a moment with him.

9. Freeze and thaw helps break down the compost.

8. Gives me a good reason to check out the grounds of our property, inspect the gutters, and find animal tracks in the snow.

7. If you pick up leaves that you missed when cleaning up the yard, there may also be snow and ice with the leaves. The moisture is an added benefit, like a composting kit.

6. It keeps the neighbors guessing about what you’re doing out there!

5. The joy of walking in the fresh snow helps with the winter blahs. It’s invigorating to get out of the house and get some exercise.

4. Snow on the bin or added to the bin will jump start the pile in the spring.

3. If there is fresh snow, you can walk all over the yard so your wife, (husband or significant other) will think you have been busy.

2. My pile is all leaves right now. I don’t want to miss out on those kitchen scraps needed to help keep my compost balanced.

1. I can’t spend all winter in the garage.

So don’t be afraid to get out there in the cold and tend to your compost pile. Once you’re finished, come inside, plop down in the recliner, and enjoy a hot cocoa or steaming cup of tea. After all your hard work out in the cold, you deserve a break!