Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Hybrid in My Compost?

The weather is great for planting our gardens, but I never expected to raise the lid of my compost bin to see a hybrid developing. A Hybrid? And here I didn’t think I could even afford one.

Remember putting seeds (especially weeds with seeds) in your compost is risky since our backyard bins don’t heat up enough to guarantee that the seeds won’t germinate. Many of us have experienced a variety of volunteers popping up in patio pots, garden beds and other places we’ve spread and mixed compost with our soil.

Never though had I seen a plant like this one…

My Hybrid "Eggplant" 😀


My bean sprouts, no longer edible, decided an eggshell was the perfect spot to develop! Mother Nature does love to entertain us and I thank her for all the smiles.




Guest blogger/ Accidental Gardener Jenny Lohmann


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Cicada Circus is Coming to Town!

Like the circus when we were kids, we await the coming of the cicadas with much anticipation. Whether planning an outdoor graduation party, cutting the grass, composting, or running to our car screaming, the entertainment will be absorbing. We won’t be able to watch all the performances, but they sure will put on a show!



In ring one we have the emergence. In the womb of our living soil for 17 years, these nymphs have laid dormant, feeding the soil when they eat or are eaten. Rising, the tunnels they produce provide natural aeration for our soil, allowing for more moisture absorption and less compaction.

In ring two we’ll witness the climbing, costume changes, mating ruckus, feeding frenzy and more! The tree climbers will shed their nymph shells and will take a few days before their exoskeleton is fully developed. Interested in getting a free protein source? This is the stage you want when they’re white and free of crunchy roughage. To get ideas of how to cook with them check out this NewYork Post article. 

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/users/barskefranck-6433778/

Those in ring two that reach full maturity have one mission in life, mate. The males are the singers attracting females with song and dance (flight) all awhile both sexes only feed on plant fluids. Is this where the idea of night clubs started? No wonder this Brood is X! The females have one more job before their life’s purpose is over. They need to climb back up a tree and deposit their eggs. Natural pruning won’t harm your trees unless they’re defenseless saplings, so please do protect these.

Finally in ring three, we get to participate by mulch mowing the carcasses into the grass where they’ll return to the soil or rake them up and add them to our compost pile. The cicadas add nutrients back into our soil just as all things that used to be living do. Meanwhile, the newly hatched nymphs will drop to the ground, burrow, and find a nice place to live for the next seventeen years.

Hmmm, singing, dancing drinking, mating and good for the earth… maybe in my next life I will be a cicada! 😊

 


Guest blogger and cicada enthusiast, Jenny Lohmann


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