Thursday, August 18, 2016

Compost Garden

A few weeks ago John and Amy Duke, composters and gardeners extraordinaire, gave me a tour of their very special and very fun garden. They have filled the garden with beautiful plants, well-tended beds, and whimsical statues and signs that leave you feeling plain happy.

John is a master gardener and a master composter and Amy (the boss) says she spends at least 20 hours a week just working in the garden. They have an impressive composting area and actually name their compost bins (Grateful Dead, A Frond Farewell, Leaves of Thyme). John and Amy credit the health of their garden to all of the compost they add.

Here are a few of the photos I took. I felt like I needed to snap one everywhere I looked!

Samples of different types of bins.

Making compost tea to boost the microorganisms in finished compost.

The Anheuser Bush (ha ha) 

Yes, that is an adorable pot man using the john.
Fairies have taken up residence.

Part of the children's garden.

This squirrel thinks I am the paparazzi.
Don't you just want to wander through?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Aerate Your Compost with No Work?

For years I have thrown all sticks landing in my yard into our backyard fire pit. Aside from loving a good campfire, I know any stick larger around than my thumb will take a very long time to decompose in my bin. I even try to break other materials up to make decomposition faster.

But recently I started deliberately adding sticks to my compost hoping to provide something every compost pile needs: AIR.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Adding a small layer of sticks every so often, especially when you are starting a new pile, helps the material from becoming too dense for air to move through. Keeping air in your pile helps encourage our friends the aerobic microorganisms to break down our compost even faster.

Of course you can also aerate your pile by turning it but I’m experimenting to see if sticks offer the same effect with little to no effort.

Another material with a similar effect to sticks would be straw. Last fall after harvesting my compost, I piled some old straw in the bottom to help air flow through the bin.

Free As A Bird

Other composters have tried different methods to add air into the pile without having to turn.

PVC pipe with holes drilled in it 
Stalks from plants
Bunched up cardboard or egg cartons

Feel free to air your opinion: do you use anything else to keep air in your pile?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Top 10 Signs You Are a Compost Geek

You know you're a compost geek when you find yourself nodding in agreement to at least half of the following...

10. You have 3 or more compost sites on your property.

9. You instantly like someone more when you find out they compost.

8. You keep a bin of worms so you can compost year round.

7. Attending a compost class is the highlight of your week.

6. You ask for composting accessories as gifts.

5. You carry a banana peel home in your purse.

4. You find yourself talking about compost at parties.

3. You get excited when you see your compost steaming.

2. You constantly find new things that can be composted (my most recent is soymilk).

1. You light up when you see an "I heart Compost" bumper sticker on a car.

Are you a compost geek? Tell us how you know.

Post written by Compost Geek Cher Mohring, with help from all of her compost geek colleagues at the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Compost Like Jack Johnson

In this video produced by Sustainable America, musician Jack Johnson takes us to a special zero waste elementary school in Hawaii to learn how they compost.

Good music
Adorable kids
Beautiful setting
Composting-loving artist

Do you need any more reasons to watch this video?


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Just Mow It

Most “green” habits people ask you to adopt require more work, not less. Bringing your own grocery bags (check).  Riding a bike or walking instead of driving (check). Installing a rain barrel (check). All which I’m happy to oblige since my tree-hugging, granola-eating, hippie side is generally most dominant.

But when I learned there was a way to feed my lawn and avoid fertilizers that required less work than my current method of raking up grass clippings for the compost bin, my lazy side almost did a back flip. Almost, meaning she considered it while lounging in a lawn chair and sipping a home-grown mojito.

Let me introduce you to my new best friend: Just Mow It.

Just Mow It is the simple practice of leaving your grass clippings on the lawn. Yep, you just leave them there and they quickly break down to fertilize your grass and add biomass to the soil.

Just Mow It requires three important steps:
  1. Keep your grass at about three inches. 
  2. Mow twice per week in spring and fall. You should remove about 1/3 of the grass’s leaf surface each time. Any more and you hurt the grass. Ouch.
  3. Mow when the grass is dry so you don’t get clumps.

If you are interested in learning more about this lovely and slightly lazy “green” method of maintaining your lawn, check out our website. You too can be sipping mojitos, watching your lawn fertilize itself.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The First Graduating Class of the Year

Post by guest-blogger and compost-lover Jenny Lohmann

Having had some glorious weekend weather has permitted me to get out and tend to my garden and compost pile. I have two different compost piles, one for leaves and one “working” pile.
Gathering my equipment: pitchfork, rake, shovel, and tarp, I get to work. First, I use my pitchfork to move the unfinished compost on the top over to my leaf pile. Next, I rake the stragglers, bits of twigs, seeds, and vines to the side and… voila!

Hello beautiful compost, my homemade, plant-loving nutrient.

I happily shovel the finished compost onto a tarp to be mixed later into my soil and potting mix. Any I have left over will be sprinkled about my yard to add organic matter.

Before I disperse my home-cooked compost, I invite my neighbor to view my labor of love. As any successful composter knows, it’s a proud moment to see your compost finished and ready to nourish the life in your yard. I look forward to a summer of coaching many classes of food scraps and yard waste into seasoned do-gooders who make our soil a better place.

Friday, May 20, 2016

When Composting, Reuse, and Tomatoes Collide

I love reuse. I love growing tomatoes. And, of course, I LOVE COMPOSTING. That is why I'm sharing one man's genius idea of growing tomatoes.

James Bryan had the fantastic idea to use an old garbage can with holes drilled in it as a way to deliver water and fertilizer (via compost) to four tomato plants surrounding the garbage can.

Here are his photos from when the plants were first planted and then at the end of June.

Check out the final photo (those are big plants!) and his full yet very simple instructions at Hometalk.

And then get out there and use that compost!