Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Become a Composting Tourist

Some of us love our compost bin and would never think of straying from the well-established working relationship. But if ads for tumblers have caught your eye or if you wonder what a three bin system is all about, there is a way to “play the field” without the pressure to buy anything.

Hamilton County has several Compost Demonstration Sites around the area where you can see a variety of compost bins in action.

The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati is open to the public for self-guided tours. This site boasts just about any bin your heart desires: plastic tumbler, wire, wooden three bin system, and even a miniature three bin system for the kids. If traditional isn’t your type, they have an orb bin you are supposed to roll around on the ground to aerate and mix. And when you’ve had your fill of compost bin excitement, you can take a stroll through the beautiful gardens to see where the compost is used.

All the sites offer unique compost bins to check out, so consider “touring” a few just for fun. Here is the list:

Civic Garden Center or call 221-0981

Gardens @ Village Green or call 541-0252

Glenwood Gardens or call 521-7275

Grannies Garden School or call 324-2873

Gorman Heritage Farm or call 563-6663

The District also offers presentations to garden clubs and other interested groups at the sites. Contact the District’s Education Specialist, Keebler Holley at 946-7736.

Photo of Gorman Heritage Farm Demonstration Site

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Five Habits of a Successful Composter

Here are a few tried and true habits that anyone can adopt to create beautiful compost faster.

1. Bury your food waste

Avoid creating smells which repel your friends while attracting curious 4-legged critters. Placing food waste under a layer of leaves or plant clippings will keep your pile smelling composty fresh.

2. Add carbon (brown stuff)

You may only think about composting your banana peels and apple cores, but a successful compost pile has a 3 to 1 balance of brown to green. Keep a pile of leaves next to your bin to add as needed. If you’re short on leaves consider shredded paper, sawdust, or torn up cardboard.

3. Turn frequently

If you want your compostables to decompose before the next glacier, you need to work air into the pile. Like blowing on a campfire, the air will heat up your pile and make it compost in double-time. Without turning you will have to wait at least a year for finished compost.

4. Chop it up

Don’t add anything too big to the pile. The smaller you can cut, break, clip, or tear what you add to the pile, the faster it will break down.

5. Water, when needed

Your pile should be about as damp as a wrung out sponge. Most of the year, food waste and the occasional rain will suffice. But in hot and dry weather, the pile gets too dry to maintain all the wonderful microorganisms working to break up your compost. Watering will keep your pile alive.

Unlike flossing your teeth or picking up your dirty socks, these good habits will lead to a faster, more well-balanced compost pile. Adopt them and you will be composting like a pro in no time.

But we still recommend you keep flossing.