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.

www.savethefood.com/guestimator 


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!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Three Reasons Werewolves Make Terrible Composters

ARH-WOOOOOOOOO….

Werewolves may be able to smell prey from miles away, tear through the forest with impressive speed, and rip their enemies to shreds but, unlike vampires, werewolves do not make great composters. 

1.     They eat only meat. Usually raw, sometimes while it is still alive. As we know, meat does not play well in our backyard compost pile.
2.     They are not civilized. Werewolves are too busy howling at the moon and stalking prey to carry a kitchen pail of food scraps to the bin.
3.     Their strong sense of smell and dog-like behaviors would likely lead to the werewolf rolling around in the compost pile rather than tending to it.

Never fear, though! We can learn a few tips from their legendary lack of domesticity. Like our monster canine friends, composters do have a pack. (I see you driving around town with your I heart compost bumper magnets.) And I would love to borrow those lycanthrope claws and strength to turn my whole compost pile in a matter of seconds.

Maybe we have more in common with werewolves than I originally thought. I may not have bulging hairy muscles ripping apart my flannel shirt or sharp canines dripping with infectious saliva, but I can howl at the moon with the best of them.

Happy Hallooooweeeen!

If you are like me and love Halloween and composting, check out our other posts based on the best holiday of the year:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolf_Man_(1941_film)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Impressive Volunteer-Powered Composting

Do you have 12 free minutes to feel inspired? 

Check out this video from the Red Hook Urban Community Farm composting operation in Brooklyn, NY. An army of volunteers “walk turn” a major windrow compost pile. Seeing so many people working together at a community compost site not only makes you feel good, but it will also make tackling your backyard pile seem like a cake-walk.



Trouble viewing the video? Check out this link

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Composting Chicken Poop

Chicken poop straddles the line between manure you can compost and manure you need to avoid. Since chickens will eat anything (and I do mean anything) they are omnivores so you need to follow special rules if you want to compost the manure of your domestic avian friend.

Cock-A-Doodle Do’s and Don’ts
If you decide to add chicken manure to your compost, follow a few basic precautions to make sure any pathogens in the manure do not make you or your family sick.

  1. Wear gloves when handling manure.
  2. Practice hot composting techniques with manure to ensure the pile heats up enough to kill pathogens.
  3. Only use fully composted manure on your plants (nothing fresh).
  4. Wash all vegetables planted in soil that you amended with compost derived from manure.
  5. If you are susceptible to food borne illness (e.g., very young children, pregnant women) avoid eating raw vegetables planted in soil that you amended with compost derived from manure.
  6. Do not use chicken manure in vermicomposting.


Chicken-Out
Each chicken will create about two cubic feet of manure in a year. Even with a few chickens, all of that poop and associated bedding really adds up! Of course, like other birds their manure is mixed with urine in a gross weird mess (sorry to get so graphic, but what did you expect?).

If you keep chickens, you know the smell of ammonia all too well and know that you must clean up the fowl droppings often (pun intended).  

Which Comes First?
Fresh chicken manure is way too strong to apply directly to plants or even work into soil as an amendment. It would damage the plant roots and possibly kill the plant. However, chicken manure makes an excellent addition to your compost pile since it has higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than most other domestic animal manures. The organisms in your compost bin will break the manure down into a soil amendment your plants will love.

After the manure has fully composted, give the compost plenty of time to cure (at least two months). Although a little extra work, composting chicken manure creates a beautiful, black crumbly material high in nutrients for your plants.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Red in My Roses

Guest Blogger, Brad Miller

I am seeing red in my roses this year and it is not from what you would think. This spring, I mixed some compost with the soil around my garden. In late May, all of a sudden, I had tomato plants popping up between my roses. 

These volunteer cherry tomato plants sprouted from seeds put in my compost. Sure, I could have pulled them as weeds, but then I would have missed out on the bounty. So far, I have picked over 50 tomatoes. 


Tomato, pepper, melon and other seeds sometimes persevere during the composting process, especially if you do not turn your pile often. Cold composting (not turning your pile) is easier although it does take longer and, as I learned, can result in an unintended surprise from using the finished compost.

If you want to prevent seeds from staying viable in your compost; try hot composting. But if you are like me and don't mind a little extra fruit and veggies, sit back, relax and let compost make its magic.

Compost-enthusiast Brad Miller is the Assistant Director of Hamilton County Environmental Services. He also maintains our office garden and compost bins.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Can You Compost Paper Towels?

Paper towels: you may love them, you may hate them, but they are a part of most everyone’s life. Call me a super-freaky-hippy chick, but I try to avoid paper towels whenever possible. In my house we use cloth towels to dry our hands, wet wash cloths to clean up messes, and cloth napkins when we eat a particularly messy meal.

Even trying to avoid them, they still come in handy occasionally (I have two kids and a cat; use your imagination). So the question remains, can you put them in your backyard compost bin? The answer depends on what you cleaned up with that paper towel.

Greasy Paper Towels? Nope
If you use a paper towel to clean up oil, butter, or anything greasy do not put that towel in your compost. Oil and grease push air out of your compost, creating havens for anaerobic bacteria (the smelly kind you want to avoid). Throw greasy paper towels in the garbage.

Chemically Paper Towels? Nope
Using strong cleaning products with your paper towels? Also throw these chemical-laden paper towels in the trash. You don’t know how they will affect your macro and microorganism friends hanging out in your bin.

This also goes for paper towels covered in "green" cleaning products as well. Even green cleaners strive to kill bacteria and we do not want to invite that into our compost bin.

All Other Paper Towels? Yep
Paper towels not filled with grease or chemicals will decompose quickly in your compost bin. They are considered a brown or carbon rich material and can substitute for leaves if you are running low.  A paper towel with dirt, water, or plant-based food is perfectly welcome in your compost bin.

My, what colorful food scraps you have!
A peak inside my home kitchen collector.


In our office we collect paper towels from hand-drying and mix them into our compost bin along with our fruit and vegetable scraps. The towels decompose quickly after getting wet.


In addition to being an unapologetic hippy, I am also a pretty big cheapskate and never buy the super thick, fancy quilted paper towels. Has anyone had luck composting this kind? Leave a comment below.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Why I Love Black Soldier Fly Babies in my Compost

Guest Blogger Cher Mohring

Two of my favorite things: baby animals and free stuff!

On my regularly-scheduled day to take the office food scraps out to the compost bin, I was excited to discover BABY BLACK SOLDIER FLIES! 



If video does not play in your browser, follow this link:

 
Ok, so baby black soldier flies are technically called “larvae,” and some people may even refer to them as “maggots,” which doesn’t sound as cute, but the real reasons for my excitement were...

Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are insatiable feeders of nitrogen-rich decaying materials, like food scraps and manure. In fact, some commercial swine and poultry farms use them to break down their abundance of animal manure.

People actually sell them. I’m not too concerned about someone breaking into our compost bin because the average cost I find online is $9/100, depending on size, but we got them without needing to use any resources to package and transport them.

BSFL are also an excellent source of sustainable protein for animals, like chickens, fish, etc. Some people even buy them to feed wild birds. (I’m going to stick to birdseed myself.)

The main reason I wrote this blog post is so that my fellow composters don’t freak out if they find the larvae or adults in or around their compost bins. The larvae can be rather big, reaching 3/4” in length. The adult fly is also big (about 5/8”) and closely resembles a wasp.  But have no fear – they don’t sting and since they do not consume any food as adults, they don’t even have a mouth to bite you.




I’m not the only one excited about these amazing insects.  Since you obviously like blogs, check out this Black Soldier Fly Blog.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

King of the Compost

Guest Post by Joy Landry.

It was a rare August day in Cincinnati – unseasonably sunny, dry and comfortable. Perfect composting weather! As I approached my backyard compost pile, shovel in one hand, rake in the other, something flitting about the pile caught my eye. As I drew near, its majestic deep gold and black coloring was unmistakable – a monarch butterfly had alighted on the compost, declaring the pile its temporary throne.



I was mesmerized by the insect’s simple beauty and its regal purpose as one of nature’s pollinators. As it flexed its wings, I hoped it planned to stay, at least long enough for me to capture its photo. Alas, when I returned less than a minute later, the monarch had floated away to my neighbor’s backyard, no doubt attracted to his native wildflower patch, awash in the colorful glory of the fading summer.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the monarch butterfly is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration like birds do. These beautiful insects need milkweed, their primary food source, to fuel their long flight to Mexico where they overwinter.

Would you like to attract the monarch butterfly to your backyard? Now is the perfect time of year to invite this lovely insect to visit your compost pile, garden, and yard next spring. Take advantage of the fall weather to plant milkweed in your yard. The Cincinnati Nature Center has a wonderful partnership with Graeters and Jungle Jims   -Milkweeds for Monarchs - where residents can pick up a free packet of milkweed seeds. You can also request a packet of seeds online. By providing its necessary habitat in your own backyard, you can help save this special insect from extinction. And perhaps a monarch butterfly will declare itself King of your Compost Pile, if only for a few moments.

 

Joy Landry is the public relations specialist for Hamilton County Environmental Services. Photo courtesy of National Geographic Kids website.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Composting Tip for the Dead of Summer

Y’all, I get super lazy this time of year (and apparently take on a nice, southern drawl). In Cincinnati the weather is hot as blue blazes and only welcoming if I am walking straight to a swimming hole. I will admit, I do not want to work in the garden or in my compost bin. I do not want to exercise, unless you count lifting an icy sweet tea to my lips.

But what is a composter to do? Work needs gettin’ done. My compost bin is especially wet and heavy with all of the watermelon rinds and fresh fruit and veggie scraps I have added over the last month. That bin needs air.

It is time to aerate my compost bin.

I have discovered my summer power hour. Right after the sun comes up, before everything is hot as Hades. Before the mosquitos wake up. Power hour is where it's at.

I have always been impressed with farmers who wake up super early and get more accomplished before breakfast than I do typically all day. Or those amazing people out running before the sun comes up with motivation I never imagined I could possess. But now I get it.

Just do it.

When those first sunrays start peeking through the curtains, get out of bed before your brain convinces you to roll back over. Swallow a drink of juice or a cup of coffee, put on your shoes, grab your aerator, pitch fork or shovel, and walk to your compost bin. It will take less than 10 minutes to plunge that aerator in and send vital air to the microorganisms breaking down your compost. They will whoop with delight and start eating your banana peels, watermelon rinds, and old plants twice as fast.

Then you can sashay back to your house with the satisfaction that your microorganisms will spend the rest of the day working on your compost while you lounge by the pool.

Stay cool out there, composters!

This cow and I have a lot in common.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Master Composter Class Opportunity in August


Do you love composting? I mean really, really love composting? Do you love learning? Then you should consider taking the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati’s Master Composter class in August.

The class spans four Wednesdays in August (2, 9, 16, and 23) with class from 9 am to 3:30 pm each day. You will learn both in a classroom setting (at the beautiful Civic Garden Center location) and go on fun field trips. You’ll take a deep-dive into the world of composting, and by the end you will be able to offer sound composting advice to everyone you meet at parties.

For additional information contact Kylie Johnson or call the Civic Garden Center at (513) 221-0981. Or check out the Civic Garden Center’s website.

Bonus: Michelle Balz and Jenny Lohmann from the District will be teaching a few segments of the class. We hope to see you there!


 
 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Kiss the Ground

Do you have any friends or family who refuse to see the natural beauty and regenerative benefits of composting? Share this amazing video from Kiss the Ground, a California non-profit dedicated to promoting composting and soil regeneration.

The combination of easy-on-the-eyes celebrities and simple graphics make this a very convincing video. Watch it and feel good about your own composting efforts. Share it to convince others to join the revolution!


  

Check out Kiss the Ground's website for more information.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Secret Ingredient for Speeding Up Leaf Bin Compost


You know that feeling when you have found an amazing, tucked-away restaurant but you worry if you tell anyone about it, it won’t be so secret anymore. That is how I feel about this secret, but since I like you all so much, here it goes...

Coffee grounds and leaves make magic. They are a match made in heaven. I am not talking about the small amount of grounds you create with your home coffee pot. To really make an impact, you need to source your grounds from places that make enough coffee to caffeinate hundreds of people a day.

Your friendly neighborhood coffee house.

Recently, a friend of mine made a trip to a Starbucks for her daily sweet coffee fix and asked if they had any used coffee grounds. Instead of the usual neat package of grounds, they gave her a huge garbage bag full. Luckily for me, she was willing to share and dropped off half the bag for my leaf bins.

I’ve been thinking about “cheating” with my leaf compost bins for a few months now. I have mostly oak leaves and while they are showing a steady progression, I want to speed it up.

Coffee grounds just begging to meet up with my leaves.


Bulk coffee grounds add a condensed punch of nitrogen to very carbon heavy leaf bins and will speed up decomposition of the leaves. I layered the grounds in one leaf bin with leaves I moved from a smaller bin. Amazingly, there were enough grounds to also spread on my other leaf bin. As a side bonus, now my leaf bins smell like delicious coffee.

I added the grounds in layers with my leaves and weeds.
So, next time you want to give your leaf bin compost a boost, stop by your local coffee shop and politely ask it they have any used grounds they could give you. Just save some for me, please. J

Monday, May 22, 2017

The 411 on Compost Tea


Post courtesy of Guest Blogger Mike Lee, author of the Compost411.com blog.
 
A batch of bubbling compost tea.
 
Generations of gardeners have used compost teas to benefit plants and soil. Making your own compost tea can stretch the impact of your compost on your yard and garden, bringing different benefits to plants and soils.

Let’s start with the basics: what is compost tea and how does it work? Simply put, compost tea is water that has been exposed to compost. Compost teas in the past were made by letting compost soak in water. Gardeners then strained out compost debris from the water, using the liquid to water gardens or spray on plants. Today’s organic farmers, gardeners, and scientists studying plants and soils have discovered making compost tea with “active aeration” (in short, bubbling) helps release even more beneficial bacteria from compost into the liquid. Sending air bubbles into the compost tea brew increases the amount oxygen available in the water. This means the aerobic bacteria that seem to most benefit plants and soils can thrive while the compost tea is brewing.
 
That brings us to how compost tea works to benefit your plants and soils: “Steeping” compost in water releases microbes and water soluble nutrients into the liquid. These can benefit soil fertility (with vitamins and nutrients) and plant health (some compost teas sprayed on plants seem to help control diseases and create healthier plants). There are many possible benefits from the mix of nutrients and microbes in compost teas; in fact, farm and garden researchers continue cutting-edge scientific studies to figure out exactly why many plants seem to so greatly enjoy their compost teas.
This type of sack is perfect for brewing homemade compost tea.
 
Home gardeners have long brewed compost teas by letting compost steep in water, usually with the compost kept in some sort of “teabag.” Some gardeners continue this method, using materials as simple as a mesh bag to hold the compost and a five-gallon bucket to hold the brew. Small, bucket-sized aerators are available for home gardeners wanting to add more air while the compost tea is brewing; this is the most recommended brewing method by today’s garden researchers and organic farming experts. Certified organic farmers follow certain restrictions for applying compost and compost teas to edible fruits and vegetables; if you would like to use compost tea in the home garden, check with your local garden center or university extension office for compost tea application recommendations.

The gardener wanting to make her own compost tea for the first time can locate many compost tea kits with instructions for proper brewing. These kits usually include the essentials for making a good compost tea: compost tea bags, buckets, and aerators. If you decide to brew your own compost tea, remember that compost is still one of the most important ingredients; be sure to use your best, high-quality compost. Compost made from vermicomposting (worm bins) is often recommended for brewing up your own compost tea.

A lot of resources checked for this one, including:
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/sam/nl/16-spring.pdf
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/soils/vermicompost-tea/
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/douglas/sites/default/files/documents/hort/WhyUseCompostTea.pdf
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/horticulture/documents/25gallonRubbermaidbrewerplans_2_.pdf

Monday, May 8, 2017

Compost! Healthy Soil, Healthy Food

Oh happy day, fellow composters! It’s our holiday – International Compost Awareness Week.

International Compost Awareness Week is celebrated each year in the first full week of May and is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. This year, the theme is Healthy Soil, Healthy Food and centers on the need for compost as a component of healthy soil.
 
 

If the saying "you are what you eat" is true, I want to grow my fruits and vegetables in soil amended with compost. Compost provides nutrients and helps plants pull minerals from the surrounding soil. Read more on how compost heals you soil here.

Here are five other reasons to love compost:
  1. Compost will cut down your watering requirements.
  2. Compost helps maintain healthy plant growth.
  3. Compost helps improve the structure of clay and sandy soils.
  4. Using sustainable soil-enriching composts helps prevent erosion of valuable topsoil without depleting wildlife habitats.
  5. Compost reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

So raise a glass of (compost) tea and toast with me to our favorite pastime, composting!
 
Visit the Composting Council site for more information on International Compost Awareness Week.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Discreetly Compost with a Trench


Shhh!
 
Nosey neighbors? Annoying homeowners association? You can compost in your backyard for free without anyone knowing.

Composting in a pit or a trench allows you to:
  • Improve poor soil
  • Compost without worry of smells or attracting raccoons and other furry critters
  • Spend $0 to compost

How to Compost in a Trench
  1. Dig a pit or a trench as deep as you can comfortably dig. One foot deep is perfect. It can be as long or wide as you need.
  2. Place food scraps and leaves into the trench, leaving 5 inches of air space to ground level.
  3. Fill the rest of the pit or trench in with soil.
If you do not have enough material to fill your trench right away, cover food scraps with soil, leaves, or a tarp. Exposed food scraps will attract flies and other hungry creatures to your compost.


Cold Composting

Trench composting is cold composting so it will take longer to decompose than in a compost bin or pile. You will also not need to harvest the finished compost. It is already there, incorporated into your soil.

Cool.

 
Free! Woo-Hoo!

Of course, aside from the cost of a shovel, which most people already have, trench and pit composting are free.

But, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Yep. Trench composting won’t cost you money, but it will cost you time and sweat while digging a big hole. Or a bunch of holes. Or a bunch of trenches.

You will have to dig. A lot.

 
I Buried My Food Scraps, Now What?

The decomposing food scraps could steal nitrogen from whatever you plant, so either wait a year to plant anything on top of a composting trench or add fertilizer.

If you want to get fancy with your hole of decomposing food scraps, check out these sites:



 
A different kind of buried treasure
 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Brings Green

Guest post by Brad Miller

With the start of spring, everything begins to green and we see many beautiful colors. With your compost pile, color is also very important. The two most important colors for your compost pile are green and brown.

Green materials, such as vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and fresh grass trimmings provide nitrogen to your compost pile. 



Brown materials include leaves, straw, and shredded newspaper provide much needed carbon.


 









Ideally, you would like to have a three to one ratio of browns to greens. Three parts brown for every one part green. Enjoy the beautiful spring colors and your compost pile as the weather turns nice.

Friday, March 31, 2017

How Compost Heals Your Soil


Guest blogger Charlie Gonzalez
 
Compost is often described as a panacea for improving all types of soils. Whether you have clay or sandy soils, adding compost (or organic matter) improves the soil structure, and increases its ability to retain moisture and nutrients.

Storing Water for Drier Days
Organic matter acts like a sponge, soaking up excess water and nutrients, and making them available when plants and soil life need them. For every 1% increase in organic matter, soils can store an additional 1/2 gallon of water per square foot (that's 25,000 gallons per acre).

Keeping Carbon Where It's Needed
Not only that, but did you know that organic matter is 58% carbon, and that by adding compost to your soil you are sequestering carbon? In fact, leading soil scientists estimate that if we increased the carbon content of the planet's soils by just 2%, it would offset 100% of our current greenhouse gas emissions (Source: Dr. Rattan Lal).

While we should certainly continue pursuing ways to reduce our carbon footprint by moderating our consumption and increasing efficiency, the excess carbon in the atmosphere still needs to go somewhere. The solution is in building healthy soil!

Turning Waste into a Resource
In the United States we waste 40% of all food produced - an estimated 133 billion pounds each year. Only 3% of that wasted food is currently diverted from landfills. So that other 97% breaks down anaerobically and contributes nearly 25% of all our methane emissions!

By composting you are converting that waste into a valuable resource, building healthy soil and mitigating climate change. That's something to celebrate!

Keep up the good work!



 
For a wonderful short film on the amazing power of soil, check out “The Soil Story”.

 

Charlie Gonzalez is an intern at the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and a business certificate in Sustainable Agriculture Management from Cincinnati State. He is about to complete the M.A. in Urban Sustainability and Resilience at Xavier University, where his thesis is focused on composting.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grass, Butterflies, Rain Barrels, and Composting?

Guest post from compost-fanatic, Jenny Lohmann.

Grass: I’m not talking about the grass you mow or the grass some states have legalized. I am speaking of ornamental grass, the tall reedy type. I never cut my pampas grass back in the fall. I love the way it looks in comparison to the stark winter landscape especially when blanketed in snow. Of course this year, I never got the chance to gaze upon a snowscape and it is time to cut the dead as new life emerges from the soil.

Butterflies: Little did I know I have been helping the butterfly population in this yearly routine. According to a recently read article on butterflies, some butterfly chrysalis overwinter in ornamental grasses as well as perennials therefore we should not cut them back in the fall. I’ve been a butterfly hero without even knowing it!




 
Rain Barrels: As a devout re-user, I have installed a few rain barrels to my downspouts. I use them to give my plants and compost non-chlorinated drinks during the growing months. During the winter, they go into storage as do my other garden tools. I recently pulled one out to assist in yard clean up. They’re perfect transport for the tall grasses I just cut back.

My rain barrel came from Save Local Waters' rain barrel art project auction. You can get one for your home too either by bidding online or going to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Party for the Planet on April 20. If you do go, please stop by and say hi.  We set up every year at this fun and free event.






Composting: Back to my pampas grass and composting. If you’re a seasoned composter, you know these types of reedy plants are not quick to breakdown but they do offer “fluff” or air pockets in your compost bin. However, sometimes you just want to get rid of the reedy plants and twigs from your property. If you happen to live in a community that picks up your yard trimmings and composts them then congratulations. Mine does not L

Fortunately, this great county organization (us) has contracts with private companies so you can take unwanted yard trimmings to a drop off where they will be composted and guess what? It opens this weekend! You can find all the details here.