Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Time to Turn: A Real Life Compost Story

Guest post from Brad Miller

Cooler temperatures this spring and a vacation resulted in me turning the compost pile later this spring than usual. When I finally got around to it, I experienced a little good and bad.

First: the bad news. As I started digging into the wet, dense center of the pile, a rotten egg, sulfur odor greeted my nostrils. Oops! What caused this problem? A portion of my pile went anaerobic because I had not turned my pile to get oxygen into it. Anaerobic composting happens without the presence of oxygen (think swamps). This type of composting is super slow and as my nostrils can attest- stinky.

But, all is not lost. An anaerobic compost pile will quickly switch to aerobic (air-loving) composting with a good amount of turning. I also incorporated some new dry leaves generously gifted to me by a coworker.

Second: the good news. As I turned the pile I encountered a healthy community of bugs and worms living in the composting material. In other good news, all the recent rains added plenty of moisture so I didn’t need to drag the hose down to the pile (of course, it is possible all of that rain contributed to the pile going anaerobic, but I’m an optimist).

Final lesson learned: next year, I will remember to turn my pile around the first week of May.

Brad Miller spreading compost near our office.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Compost Like an Egyptian: Harvesting Vermicompost

Did you know that you can channel the ancient Egyptians when you’re ready to harvest your vermicompost? It’s true! Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: On a sunny day, set your worm bin, a tarp, and a container for finished vermicompost outside. If the weather is bad, you can do this inside in a bright room.

Step 2: Using your hands, scoop out handfuls of vermicompost, sorting out any visible pieces of food as you go.

Step 3: Shape each handful of vermicompost into a pyramid—more surface area is better!

Step 4: Wait ten minutes. Your worms, like mummies, will migrate to the base of the pyramid, away from the light.

Step 5: Remove top and sides of pyramid and sort out any worms you find, returning them to the bin. The worm-free compost can be placed in your container for finished vermicompost (I used an old coffee container).

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Step 6: Once your pyramid is mostly worms, return it to the bin.

You’re done! Your finished compost is ready to use, and your worms are ready to get back to work in fresh bedding making vermicompost out of your fruit and vegetable scraps.

Are you ready to dig in the dirt and take your composting skills to the next level? Join us for the Worm Bin Composting Workshop, hosted by our friends at the Civic Garden Center, on Thursday, June 13 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $15 per person. For more details, and to register, please visit the CivicGarden Center.

Binny about to bust into a rap.
Guest Blogger, Susan Jorgensen (right)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring Compost Tips

Compost springs eternal - finally! The temperature is climbing and the sun is shining. I’m your friendly Backyard Compost Pile and it’s time to get this party started. Like the brown bear, I’m emerging from hibernation and I’m hungry! Here are some tips to keep me productive.

  • Turn me please! My contents have slowly compacted over the winter. Turning and stirring those brown leaves creates air pockets so I can breathe. 
  • Feed me! If you choose to rake or mower-bag your grass trimmings, deposit them into your compost pile. To be productive, I need a nice mix of brown and green material.
  • Give me snacks! That’s right, a daily snack of fruit and veggie scraps makes for a healthy compost pile.
  • Let nature run its course:  the springtime pattern of April showers and sunny days helps me grow.

      Check out this post for more Spring Composting Tips.

Guest Blogger Joy Landry, Public Relations Specialist

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Genius Composting Trick

My husband recently had a clever idea that resulted in me having an easier time composting through these cold winter months. As we were cleaning out the basement after Christmas, he unearthed an old lidded garbage can that we used next to our diaper changing table. We have kept this “baby” stainless steel garbage can even though our children have been out of diapers for years.

“We should use this in the kitchen to collect scraps for composting,” he declared. During the winter my love of composting battles with my dislike of cold wet weather quite often. I usually end up with a situation looking something like this:

I think it's time to take the compost out.

“That is brilliant!” 

I immediately replaced my much loved but much smaller kitchen collector with the little can. Not only does it match our garbage can and offer more space for scraps, but the new can has a foot pedal so I do not have to lift the lid if both my hands are full. This is especially helpful for my children who always manage to lose half their orange peels as the try to take the lid off the old bucket.

Matching garbage and compost cans: check.
Groovy kitchen floor: check.

An added bonus: it has a plastic insert that I can just lift out to take out the compost.

Although beautiful, I am not sorry our snowy days are behind us.

Have you ever "repurposed" something and loved it even more?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Hippity-Hoppity on Over to a Compost Seminar

Spring is coming and the sun is shining! I feel as energized as a bunny to get outside again.

It’s also time for our annual “Get the Dirt on Backyard Composting” seminars. These opportunities are free as we spread the love of compost. 

Organic matter (compost) is soil’s life-blood, giving needed nutrients and perfect conditions for plants to grow, thrive and reproduce (just like bunnies)! After all, anyone who has held soft, black, and crumbly soil knows it’s teaming with life.

Need a refresher? Or do you just want more of your friends and family composting?  Hop on over to our website to get more information and to sign up for one of these seminars. Registration is happening now.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Compost for Thought?

What do you do when you can’t play in the dirt outside? For me, cuddling up with a good book is a grand pastime. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with reading about compost and the food we eat.

I just finished Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin who owns Polyface Farm in Virginia. The book is filled with stories on what it’s like to own a small farm in America as well as its obstacles and rewards. Although the book covers many food system topics, I have chosen to focus on the topic of compost as a great resource. After all, this is a compost blog!

Love to My Public Library

As a POCK (person of compost knowledge), you already understand how compost is a superb soil amendment, but did you know it also makes people healthier? We’ve discussed those wonderful microorganisms that live in the soil that make us happy. Now it’s time to discuss those that make us healthy.

Mr. Salatin touches on the healthier, more nutritious food produced when grown the old fashioned way: no-till, fertilized with manure and compost. Think of untouched prairie lands where the soil regenerates through plant decay and natural processes of wildlife. There’s a reason small farmers are working to bring our soil back to ‘the good old days’. Want more information on why? The Scientific American has a great article: Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

I salute you fellow POCK for your commitment to assisting Mother Nature in her quest to keep our Earth teaming with happy and healthy life, even the unseen and often misunderstood, microorganisms.

Interested in learning more? Our office will be part of the Food Symposium: Pathway To Sustainability, occurring April 4-5, 2019. Hope to see you there!

Compost and Wasted Food Prevention Specialist, Jenny Lohmann

Always happy and healthy when in nature

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Do you compost too much?

Are you guilty of composting too much? Whaaat? 

I never have enough compost for all my gardening and lawn needs! As a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking of inviting my neighbors to bury their kitchen scraps in my pile. Yes, neighbors, you can walk through my yard and your kids can run through it. I love the outdoors and invite neighborly sharing and comradery.

Having too much to compost may be a sign that we are letting our edible food go to waste. Often we composters find those moldy berries, bread and the like but don’t think twice about pitching them in the old kitchen collector. After all, we are creating this great resource our soil needs to grow healthy plants and it’s organic!

Here’s the thing, we put a lot of time, energy, water, and other resources into growing, shipping, and storing that food. Using it as compost fodder is better than landfilling but it is way better to eat the food in the first place. Dear reader, it’s time to eat what we buy and compost the inedible parts of our food scraps. If you’d like to learn more on how you can be smarter about the food you buy, join us for one of our scheduled lunch-and-learns, beginning on February 28. 

For more information on these 45 minute ‘Save The Food’ seminars and to register visit HamiltonCountyRecycles.org.

Guest blogger, Jenny Lohmann, Food Saving Aficionado