Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Bin Needed, Composting for the Beginner Composter!

Submitted by guest blogger Dawn Mays.

When I told my husband I was going to start a compost pile, he said, “But we don’t have a bin.” I told him I was going “old school” with my compost and making a true pile. (Hey – it worked for dad for DECADES and he was famous for the size and deliciousness of the tomatoes he grew with that compost…Who am I to mess with a proven method???).

So after doing a little reading from such things as A Simple Guide to Composting in your Backyard (and peeking at a few websites), I fearlessly set out to build my pile of gardening goodness.

Down went a layer of dried leaves (this is the brown material with lots of carbon). Now we are surrounded by oaks and their leaves can be a little harder to break down, so I went at them with  hedge clippers (it is all about making do with what you have on hand) to break them up and aid in their decomposition.

Next a layer of scrumptious veggie and fruit waste (those old carrots and grapes hiding in the back of the refrigerator and…well, you know where that is going…).  It is a good idea to have a kitchen container to keep your veggie/fruit scraps in but on days you are cleaning out the refrigerator (as I was today) you can just take the stuff right out to the compost pile and bury it. Rotten fruit and veggies may not be appetizing to you, but your compost pile LOVES them since they provide the green (nitrogen-laden) layer.

Bury it? Yes, after the veggie layer came a nice layer of dirt. It helps to keep the garden critters (bunnies and raccoons) from foraging in your compost for some tasty tidbits. Plus there are fun microorganisms in the dirt which help the composting process.  And this was topped with yet another layer of hedge-clipped oak leaves. A little sprinkle of water (the pile is supposed to be as damp as wrung-out sponge, so I just used a little water to hold down the top layer of leaves).

Voila! A Compost Pile!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Overwhelmed with Yard Trimmings? Here is a simple solution.

In a perfect world I would compost every last twig and leaf into beautiful crumbly compost right in my backyard. But sometimes our yards’ dish out more leaves, branches, and cuttings than our current backyard composting system can take. If you’re like me, the thought of those yard trimmings sitting unappreciated in a landfill is too awful to bear, so what can we do?

Let me introduce you to my friend, the free Yard Trimmings Drop-Off sites.

Yard Trimmings Drop Off Sites

Every year, Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District have three free drop offs for Hamilton County residents. You can bring extra leaves, branches (cut into 4 feet and no larger than 12 inches in diameter), trimmings from plants, and brush to the sites.

The material will be ground up and then composted by one of our partner companies.

The three sites are located in Anderson Township, Colerain Township, and Green Township. Check out the Yard Trimmings website for guidelines, hours, and other details.

Curbside Collection in Your Community

But, you say, I don’t live close to any of those drop off sites! Do you want me to strap branches to the roof of my Miata and fill the trunk with leaves?

Um, I guess not. Good point.

Your community may offer curbside collection of yard trimmings and then either compost the material themselves or bring it to a commercial composter. We have all the Hamilton County communities listed and what programs they offer here:

Over the years, I have used both of these outlets to compost material beyond my backyard pile (this includes filling up the back of my small Subaru hatchback with brush). Neither the drop-offs or the curbside collection will accept food scraps, so you'll have to make room for them.
Just remember to save enough leaves so you don’t run out in the summer and end up begging your neighbors to “borrow” some of their leaves.

 Happy spring, everyone!!!

A creative way to haul your leaves.