Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Composting Crime!?! Who is the Culprit?

 Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are here today because the defendant would not confess.

 The crime: digging in the compost pile, despite the clear deterrent of the traffic cone.

 


The culprit: Taffy the Retriever


 

Exhibit A: past transgressions of backyard shenanigans, such as digging muddy holes. Caught red-pawed, this mug shot says it all:



But seriously, my dog’s renewed interest in my compost pile this spring reminded me it was time to turn it over. The fallen leaves I had put in the pile last November had slowly compacted under the weight of February’s snow. The center to bottom of the pile was mostly heavy, wet leaves, which made me realize I need to add some greens to my browns. So the next time I mow my yard, I’ll collect the thicker grass trimmings and mix them in with all those brown leaves.* That, along with banana peels, apple cores, and spinach stems, should help balance my compost pile. Then nature will go to work, as the combination of spring rains, sunshine, and warming temperatures will make that compost pile cook.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are a loyal composter yourself. So why not share this blog with a friend or neighbor and introduce them to the world of composting? 

As you can see from the first photo above, my compost pile is a very basic construct. But for those that want a “no muss no fuss” approach that their dog can’t raid, they can purchase a compost bin at our online Compost Bin Sale, now through May 3. Would be - and experienced - composters can learn basics and tips at our free, virtual Get the Dirt on Backyard Composting Seminars. There are three more opportunities available on April 21, 22, and 29. So register now and get composting!

*I never bag grass clippings. When they are thick in the spring, I compost them. For the rest of year, I leave them on my yard to promote healthy soil.


Guest Blogger and Dog-Enthusiast, Joy Landry



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Compost, Cocktails, and a Sale, Oh My!

 

If you enjoy compost, cocktails, and sales you’re going to love these opportunities beginning March 31.


 

We’re hosting our first ever virtual ‘Compost and Cocktails’ happy hour tomorrow. We will meet up on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. to share cocktail/mocktail recipes.  A panel of local entrepreneurs will detail services that will compost your food scraps from your home, business, or at a drop off site. Gather your pod of peeps and enjoy a toast to compost! Register here.

Have your own backyard and choose to DIY? Then join us for our annual Get the Dirt on Backyard Composting seminar followed up by our compost bin sale. Whether you’ve been contemplating composting and just want to learn more or need to jump start your spring with a refresher, this virtual opportunity is the place to learn.

 

All seminars this year are virtual at a variety of times, and even on Saturday! You’ll learn the basic steps to successfully compost while earning a $10 off coupon good for one of our already discounted compost bins.

So be like a tornado and whirl over to our website for more information and to register for the seminars. 

BTW, your mother called, she said she wants a compost bin this Mother’s Day!

 

 



Monday, February 8, 2021

Can I Compost Orange Peels?

Oh, sweet citrus. You make my bleak winter months bearable, but our family seems to end up with a lot more orange peels this time of year. If you are in the same citrus boat as me, you may wonder, is it okay to throw all this acidic goodness in with my compost?

Can you compost citrus? The answer is:

               In the backyard = Yes

               In the worm bin = No

Set Your Mind at Squeeze

Yes, if you are composting in a typical backyard composting bin, you can include orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomelos, and whatever other kind of citrus you want. The key is to not include only citrus peels.

Orange peels are acidic and if you were only adding citrus peels, you may make the pile too acidic to be a good habitat for our microorganism friends. But it would have to be A LOT of citrus. Like, if you owned a lemonade stand and were throwing 5-gallon buckets of lemon peels into your bin every day, you might have a problem.

For the rest of us, keep on adding the peels. They provide nitrogen to help your pile break down.

Zest One Exception

If you have a worm bin (or vermicomposting bin for fancier folk) then you want to minimize or even avoid citrus altogether.

Why? Two reasons. First, our worm friends are very sensitive to changes in pH and in the confined space of the bin there is nowhere for them to escape the acidic onslaught.

Second, little white mites seem to be attracted to citrus in worm bins. I don’t know where they come from or why they appear in worm bins and not backyard bins. This mystery may never be solved, I just know they are annoying enough to deter me from wanting to feed the worms citrus.

Random Acts of Rindness

So, if you compost in your backyard, keep tossing those peels into the bin. Your compost pile will convert those peels into lovely, finished compost with ease.


I’ll just be over here stuffing my face with orange slices and dreaming of warmer days to come.



Friday, October 30, 2020

Fall Composting Tips from a Mummy

With Halloween upon us and autumn in full swing, I have asked my friendly neighbor spook, the Mummy, to give us a few of his best fall composting tips.

Mummies, of course, know more about preservation and not decomposing than your average Halloween ghoul and they can use those lessons in reverse to teach us the best composting methods.

  • Empty your bins of finished compost now to make room the fall leaves. Just as you would remove the organs from the body you are about to mummify, you need to clear out those bins now so you have space for the leaves that have already started to fall.
  • Create hollow monuments to hold your dead. Maybe not a pyramid or fancy sarcophagus, but a few simple wire bins will help you hold onto those extra leaves instead of sending them off with the yard trimmings truck.
  • Without moisture, we mummify. If you want your leaves, food scraps, and internal organs to be around next year (or 1,000 years from now) you need to remove all of the moisture. We do not want that, so make sure the contents of your compost bin are as wet as a wrung out sponge.

The Mummy recommends holding onto those fall leaves now so that next year you are not cursing yourself with having too little browns.

Happy Halloween!



For past Halloween composting posts check out:

 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Scrap It Up Composting

Food waste or wasted food, what’s the difference? 

Food waste is the inedible parts of our fruits and veggies while wasted food are the bread ends, moldy produce, etc. that were edible but we didn’t eat. We’re all guilty of wasting food with even the least wasteful households in America still throw away about 9% of the food they buy, according to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Eliminating wasted food completely can be challenging, but it’s helpful to think of different ways to hold ourselves accountable. The team at Wikibuy shared with us this printable wasted food log that tracks your total grocery bill, the amount of food you throw away, the reason, and the cost. 

 

You’ll be motivated to use up what’s in your refrigerator when you track the financial cost of wasted food and keep those inedible food scraps headed to the compost bin. For more information on proper storage and other great food saving tips visit our website.

 https://cdn.ivaws.com/wikibuy-ads/03-family-food-waste-log.pdf

Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide
https://bit.ly/3lDxORR 


Guest Blogger and Expert Food Saver, Jenny Lohmann




Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Well, Shut My Mouth!

 

After composting for over 8 years, I’ve been proven wrong. 

I’ve been telling people you cannot grow plants that go to fruit in your compost. After all, compost is organic matter that adds nutrients to soil, not soil itself. Of course, I’ve gotten volunteer tomatoes in my yard where I amend the soil with compost, but never have I had more than flower blossoms on vines in my compost until this year.

Short story is I have been using an open pile all these years as well as this winter. This spring I began using a plastic compost bin purchased at the District’s sale and let the open pile continue to decompose and season. As usual vines emerged and I let them go to harvest the flowers for salads. Much to my surprise one day in June I noticed one of the flowers had actually developed into a baby squash. Days later another appeared, yet different looking. How excited I was!



The first vegetable soon identified itself as an acorn squash but the neighbor and I disagreed on what the other was: honeydew, pumpkin, or spaghetti squash? Spaghetti squash it was. By mid-August I had three acorn squash and one spaghetti squash before the vines died off and they were harvested. The squash were runts but I did love the no maintenance vegetable garden. Oh, and my neighbor now has 4 giant pumpkins growing in her flower beds complements of the nearby compost pile. The grandkids can’t wait to carve them!

Gotta’ go. Need to pick some of my volunteer cherry tomatoes from my flower garden!


Guest Blogger/ Compost Gardener Jenny Lohmann




Monday, July 6, 2020

DIY Worm Bin

Haven't been able to make it to a Worm Bin Workshop? No problem. Today we are sharing a video on how to build your own worm bin! If you'd like to learn more about vermicomposting before you dive in, we recommend checking out the book "Worms Eat my Garbage" by Mary Appelhof.

Materials Needed: 
  • 1 lb of Red Wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida)
  • 10 gallon (shallow) plastic container
  • Drill
  • 3/16 drill bit
  • 2-3 handfuls of garden soil 
  • Fruit and veggie scraps (non-citrus)
  • 3 - 4 lbs moist bedding (leaves or newspaper will work!)
  • Extra lid or drainage basin for under your worm bin
  • Pieces of wood or other material to prop up your worm bin over the drainage basin 


Vermicomposter, Angela Rivera