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Archive for Composting tips
More “compostales” from entries to our composting contest:
Gloria Overton of Cedar Rapids
My family loves to compost! We got started about 10 years ago when the previous homeowner left boards with notches cut in the ends. We decided it was a compost bin and assembled it. We have used that bin ever since. We compost our fruit and vegetable scraps like apple cores, banana peels, cornhusks, and our shredded paper. Our biggest surprise was diced melon rinds decompose in less than one week. We also add coffee grounds, tea bags and yard debris. Now it is filled to the top with tree leaves.
We love to compost because it makes wonderful dirt and is so relaxing. You can always move the compost around to make it break down more quickly. We are also very pleased with the quality compost it makes. Wow does grass seed ever germinate when they are planted in compost! My container garden is entirely planted in compost. The remaining compost goes into the garden or lawn. When you plant something in compost, it is like planting it in dirt on steroids!
and Eliza and Henry and Greta and Ben of Marion
We love compost! We are beginner gardeners and compost is saving our sorry vegetable garden. This year we started adding egg shells and this year is the first that we haven’t had a problem with blossom end rot on our tomatoes. Compost is our friend that seems to cover our inexperienced missteps and is turning our sad, hard clay into a fruitful, lush source of organic produce for our family. And digging the compost into the soil is a great job for little diggers. Kids love it and really love the worms that love it too! We only wish we had more (oh yeah, and some horse manure too). Yeah for compost!
Lauren Overton of Cedar Rapids
When I compost I feel like I’m in a fun contest. I judge myself on how much I’m putting into the compost pile, how well I’m turning it, how often I’m turning it, and evaluate how good the soil is as a whole. The more variety of ingredients I put into the compost pile, the better the compost. I like that I have a ready supply of rich compost full of nutrients, rather than needing to buy packaged soil.
Our “green” ingredients are: coffee grounds and filters, vegetable scraps, grass clippings, banana peels, apple cores, and the like. Our “brown” ingredients are shredded paper and fallen leaves. I use my turning fork to mix the green and brown ingredients.
We have one compost bin made of wood. My family has been composting for ten years. Now I am 15 years old and I do a lot of the composting for my family. I love the process of making compost. I love the feel of the soil and being able to use it in my garden.
Jackie Meier of Robins
My family has been composting for many years. I learned from my mother that the outdoors is self contained if we just keep recycling. She has her compost right next to her garden and keeps it full.
It is such a reward to know you can create your own soil for growing plants.
Our backyard is full of many kinds of perinials and annual plants that go through the seasons along with clippings from mowing the grass, to leaves falling from the trees.
We keep a bucket just outside our patio door for all our vegetable and fruit peelings. It’s always fun to see how the seeds will sprout in the spring in the compost pile to produce a cucumber or tomato plant.
We have filled many of our landscaping projects with the compost we create. It is such a reward to be able to keep all the environment in it’s correct place, WHERE IT ORIGINATED FROM!!!
We not only keep compost processing but also all recyclable items.
We do allot of traveling and will keep all recyclables with us until we return to process them correctly.
God gave us one earth and it is up to each of us to nurture it and keep it alive and healthy, just like we do raising our children, we need to care for our special planet.
Thanks to all who enteredJ
The winner of our compost contest was announced and her essay on composting magic was posted earlier, but there were others who shared great advice and fun stories. Dustin Hinrichs, one of our judges, noted that he enjoyed reading the “compostales.” I like Dustin’s terminology, so here are some of the compostales that were also entered in the contest. More will be posted later. Enjoy, and thanks to all who entered!
Duane Thys of Cedar Rapids:
I LOVE COMPOST!!
I HAVE BEEN COMPOSTING FOR OVER FORTY YEARS. PRESENTLY I HAVE TWO PLASTIC BINS AND A WIRE CAGE. I ‘FEED’ THE BINS FROM THE CAGE WHICH HOLDS LEAVES AND GARDEN REFUSE. I LAYER GRASS CLIPPINGS, KITCHEN SCRAPS, DRYER LINT, PAPER, ETC., WITH THE LEAVES AND GRASS CLIPPINGS. I HAVE NEVER HAD ENOUGH COMPOST. I TOLD MY WIFE THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ALL THE COMPOST IN THE WORLD. SHE THINKS I’M NUTS.
I ALSO RAISE RED WORMS. THESE ORIGINALLY WERE FOR FISH BAIT ALTHOUGH I SECRETLY WAS THINKING ABOUT MORE COMPOST. THIS TURNED OUT BETTER THAN EXPECTED. THE WORMS MAKE EXCELLENT BAIT , BUT THE COMPOST IS AWESOME. USING TWO BUCKETS I DEVISED A COMPOST TEA MAKER . THIS BREW MAKES EVERYTHING FROM ASPARGAS TO ZENNIAS GROW.
GETTING ENOUGH ORGANIC MATERIAL HAS BECOME A PROBLEM. THE WORMS NOW EAT ALMOST ALL THE KITCHEN SCRAPS SO MY OTHER COMPOST SOMETIMES GOES WITHOUT. I TAKE LEAVES AND GRASS CLIPPINGS FROM NEIGHBORS. (EXCEPT THE ONES WITH DOGS)
I WAS TAUGHT NOT TO WASTE ANYTHING SO, COMPOSTING COMES NATURALLY TO ME. I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY SOMEONE WOULD THROW AWAY PERFECTLY GOOD GARBAGE.
Neena Miller of Scotch Grove:
The first time I was aware of the benefits of composting was when I was in ninth grade and had a pony (1968.)
Mucking out the stalls was my chore to do, in order to have my beloved pet, and, although it was hard work, it was very beneficial (especially to the summer garden.) Throughout my life, I have always known my mother to continue the composting tradition by collecting kitchen scraps and lawn clippings to add to the compost bin.
Today, I continue that tradition on the farm. I have a bucket under the sink for all kitchen scraps. I keep a dishcloth over the top, to keep away gnats. In the garden, I have a circle of wire (like chicken wire) where I deposit the kitchen scraps from my bucket, layering with yard clippings, leaves, manure and pulled weeds.
The different “green” debris and manure, which I variegate in the pile, create heat, which cooks the compost pile, creating a germ free “super” fertilizer for my new garden and potted plants. The “waste” factor of using a garbage disposer and flushing these valuable nutrients down the drain, or throwing leftover food products in plastic, non-biodegradable bags into our garbage dumps is huge.
In a situation in which we cannot dispose of kitchen waste immediately, we might simply freeze it in a plastic bag until we can. This way, our world and our lives can be replenished the way nature, and ultimately God, had designed.
Nancy Feldmann of Manchester:
I like to compost. It’s my way of giving back to the earth. You might say I’m a naturalist at heart, because I love gardening, composting, sun drying my laundry and saving gray water. I grew up on a farm in NE Iowa and things I learned there brought me to where I am today – an avid recycler of almost any product. All of my containers are recycled, I buy in bulk and reuse containers whenever possible. My composting method right now consists of a plastic laundry hamper with holes in it -I’d love to move up to more modern technology. All of my compost feeds my garden soil, which in turn feeds my family. (Did I also say I am a Supervisor at Goodwill? I believe in helping people learn to be independent. Our people is our most important job at Goodwill and recycling is our second most important, which really coincides with my beliefs of giving back.)
Heather Hospodarsky of Cedar Rapids:
I love my newly found composting routine. We have a family of 6 and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. My newest composting helper is a cat litter bucket with a tight fitting lid. I was unable to find a bucket that would hold a few days worth of compost until a friend, with cats suggested this. It stays in the garage and I take the compost there as needed. Our bin several yards from our house and we empty the bucket a few times a week. It feels so good “recycling” our food waste instead of sending it to the landfill.
Saturday, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day and what better way to recycle than by composting?
Composting turns egg shells, banana peels and other fruit and vegetable peelings that would otherwise end up in a landfill into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps gardens thrive.
Readers sent in some wonderful essays to our compost contest and we’ll eventually get those posted here, beginning with our winner: Beverly Whitmore of Cedar Rapids.
Beverly won a kitchen composting package, courtesy of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Special thanks to our judges, Bev Lillie, Linn County master gardener coordinator; Dustin Hinrichs, Linn County Public Health air pollution control specialist and Stacie Johnson, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Stacie provided the prize.
Thank you to everyone who enteredJ
Here is Beverly’s winning entry:
I’m a magician. I can turn coffee grounds, dried crushed eggshells and any kind of fruit or vegetable peelings into “black magic”! Even the stems of irises and day lilies go into my “recipe” for compost. The real secret is to “chop” up the ingredients into small pieces, and turn those ingredients with a pitch fork once in a while. Come see my garden next spring and you will not only see lovely, black dirt full of healthy earthworms, but after it has “baked” it really does have a sweet aroma. When neighbors stop by to say how pretty my garden is and comment that I must use a lot of fertilizer … I simply say “no, I just put a shovel of compost around my plants, it’s really what makes them so happy”. My plants grow taller than usual and produce lovely blooms. One could say that I like to play in the “dirt” and I do! Whether it be “mixing” a concoction of non edible peelings and leaves, or enjoying the beautiful plants and their blooms, one thing is for sure, my husband is happier too … he gets to tote “less” garbage to the street each week!