Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bluegrass Breakdown

To compost or not to compost, that is the question: whether 'tis nobler to leave the grass lie where it falls or add it to the compost bin?

Making up about half of our yard trimmings by weight, the most important factor in disposing of grass is that it doesn’t end up in the landfill. I contend just mowing it is the best option for grass clippings and here are five reasons why:
  1. Saves time as there is no need to stop and empty your bag attachment.
  2. Reduces work as you don’t have to bag or rake.
  3. Feeds your lawn. Grass clippings contain nutrients that can generate up to ONE THIRD of your lawn’s total fertilizer needs.
  4. Decomposing grass clippings may enhance soil microbe activity.
  5. Clippings shade the soil surface and reduce moisture loss due to evaporation.
I know some of you are thinking, “what about that nasty thatch?” According to the U.S. EPA, “thatch is actually a layer of organic material made up of grass roots, not mown grass blades. Grass clippings are about 90 percent water, so they decompose very quickly”.
Okay, so now you’re thinking, “I don’t have enough fruit and vegetable scraps to add the needed nitrogen to my compost. I need my clippings!” Solution found: eat more fruits and veggies, bring home your coffee grounds and tea bags from work, buy a bunny and add its droppings~ you get the picture!
BTW, my blog title: BluegrassBreakdown was written by Bill Monroe. If you’ve never heard it, look it up. It’ll get you motivated to get out and cut that grass!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does Composting Cost?

“What?”  You may think, “I am only composting stuff that would otherwise go into the landfill.”  TNSTAAFL, I say…

Since the age of 19, when my Economics 101 professor first uttered the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, aka TNSTAAFL” I’ve had a different world view. When I compost, I am giving up the next best alternative and for me that is normally sitting on the couch with a good book.  As noble as it is to read, there are a myriad of reasons why composting is worth the time. My last blog post touched upon the benefits of compost itself. Below I will argue the reasons why the act of composting is also beneficial.

  • Composting saves money. When you separate fruits, vegetables, and grains from your trash, you are acutely aware of the waste generated. Use this visual reminder as a tool to regulate what you buy. Preparing and buying only what you eat not only saves money, but reduces your carbon footprint. American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. The cost estimate for the average family of four is $1,365 to $2,275 annually, according to The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) article: Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.
  • Let me hear your body talk: When you compost, you are getting physical. It takes calories to walk from the kitchen to the pile, not to mention turning the pile helps your metabolism rev-up. Some composters enjoy chopping their fruits and veggies into tiny pieces in the kitchen; I prefer the Lizzie Borden method, hack them with my garden spade.

Composting as with any gardening activity is good for the soul. Time spent in my garden or caring for my pile is a welcomed gift away from the stresses of modern life. When my compost is ready, there is double satisfaction in knowing I helped create a valuable resource.

What is your favorite reason to compost? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Meanwhile, I’ll be communing with my compost friends: the worms, sow bugs, and even that which can’t be seen but I know are there anyway. Om…

Guest Blogger: Jenny Lohmann