Posts tagged Stacie Johnson

Using (free!) compost to restore flooded yards

 

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

Screening equipment and compost piles at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency's site in southwest Cedar Rapids (Cindy Hadish photo)

   Stacie Johnson, compost expert extraordinaire, sent me a note about getting flooded yards back in shape. Stacie, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, said owners of flood-damaged homes have been calling the agency about using compost as fill as they begin work on their yards this spring.  Last June’s floods wiped out the vegetation of thousands of homes in Eastern Iowa, especially in the Cedar Rapids area. One caller wanted to put compost 4 inches deep on her lawn, but Stacie advises against using compost as fill or topsoil. The grass might sprout, but would have long-term problems growing. Also, it would make a very soft spot in the yard, as compost is mostly organic matter with little mineral content. 

      The Agency is giving away free compost for Linn County residents and Stacie wants it to be used so it’s most beneficial to these homeowners.

Here is what she says:

    Compost is a good source of soil organic matter and shouldn’t be used as you would topsoil.  The three compost applications recommended by the Solid Waste Agency are mulching, amending and top-dressing.

Mulching: add one inch of compost as a mulch layer, no need to work in and can be topped off with wood mulch for a formal landscape.

 Amending: (most likely the best approach for flood homes)  work one to two inches into the top six inches of existing soil.

 Top Dressing – spread 1/4 to ½-inch layer of compost over existing lawn; best to aerate before top dressing and reseed after.

A rule of thumb for how much compost is needed to complete a project:  square footage x depth x .0031 = cubic yards needed for your soil amendment project.

The agency’s Web site: www.solidwasteagency.org has more information on hours and where you can pick up the compost. The compost is made from the leaves and other natural materials collected in Yardys. It is aged in piles and unwanted materials are removed with a heavy-duty screening machine. The result is rich, dark compost that is great for the soil.

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Recycle in Style Fashion Show

The first ever Recycle in Style Earth Week Fashion Show was tonight (April 25, 2009) at the MidAmerican Aerospace Warehouse in Cedar Rapids. Organizer Stacie Johnson noted the space was fitting, as the company recycles airplanes. About 200 people surrounded the runway where models from area consignment shops showed off some of the fashions available for a fraction of the cost of new. Local designer Sonya Darrow also modeled her “Seven Days, Seven Different Styles for under Seven Dollars” collection.

Here is a sample from tonight’s first-ever event:

Carla Davis, from Mix 96.5, emcees the fashion show.

Carla Davis, from Mix 96.5, emcees the fashion show.

A model from Plato's Closet walks the runway.

A model from Plato's Closet walks the runway.

Designer Sonya Darrow of Cedar Rapids shows part of her collection.

Designer Sonya Darrow of Cedar Rapids shows part of her collection.

The night's youngest model, from Stuff Etc.

The night's youngest model, from Stuff Etc.

Models Jenna Nelson (with Yorkie) and Heidi Franklin from Stuff Etc.

Models Jenna Nelson (with Yorkie) and Heidi Franklin from Stuff Etc.

Stacie Johnson (right) coordinator of the fashion show.

Stacie Johnson (right) coordinator of the fashion show.

Dayna Kriz, art instructor for the Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago, with some of her students' redesigned t-shirts, jewelry and keychains.

Dayna Kriz, art instructor for the Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago, with some of her students' redesigned t-shirts, jewelry and keychains.

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Compost winner!!

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 Whitmore

Beverly Whitmore

 

 

 

    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!

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Compost contest!

You can win with composting in more ways than one.

   The practice of composting benefits the environment by keeping organic materials out of the landfill and benefits your soil by adding enriching nutrients that are in the compost.

   Now, composters can win in another way.

Just tell us, in 200 words or less, how and why you like to compost and you could win a kitchen composting package, courtesy of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency.

   The package includes a “Backyard Composting” book, kitchen compost pail and package of Biobags.

Deadline is Nov. 4 — Election Day. Essays must reach us by that day.

   Send your submission by mail to: The Gazette, attention: Cindy Hadish, newsroom; 500 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406.

Or, better yet, send it by e-mail to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com 

   Judges are 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.

   I’m letting the judges decide the criteria.

Please include your name, address and phone number on your entries. Also, include “Compost contest” in the subject line of your email.  Your address and phone will not be published, but I would like to post the essays, with names, after the contest ends.

The winner will be announced Nov. 15, on America Recycles Day.

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The Lorax

CR/Linn Solid Waste Agency tour
CR/Linn Solid Waste Agency tour

   The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, is one of my all-time favorite books. The film was part of the Environmental Film Festival on Saturday at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Technical difficulties prevented a dozen viewers from watching it, but Stacie Johnson gave a good synopsis and an even better tour of the facility at 2250 A St. SW, in Cedar Rapids.

  

   Stacie said the agency is offering free compost from the compost site this year for Linn County residents. The compost is made from the leaves and other natural materials collected in Yardys. It is aged in piles and unwanted materials are removed with a heavy-duty screening machine. The result is rich, dark compost that is great for gardens.

 

  Stacie also noted that Linn County residents can bring unwanted metal items and drop them off for free in the facility’s scrap metal pile. So that old metal swingset, aluminum windows, treadmills and other metal items can be recycled as scrap metal, rather than adding to the landfill. And residents won’t have to pay the $35/ton tipping fee. The same is true for bikes and lawn mowers.

 

   The site is also collecting TVs, computers and other electronics that are recycled. Residents are charged $5 for each TV (or $10 for larger ones) and computer monitors dropped off, while VCRs, I-pods and other smaller items are free to drop off. Lead acid batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs are also collected for free at the site.

 

   The next movie in the film festival is Tuesday, Oct. 14. “Winged Migration,” will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Indian Creek Nature Center. All the films are free. For the complete listing, click on the “gardening events” tab on this blog.

 

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Brucemore photos

  Executive Director Jim Kern kicked off Brucemore’s Garden and Art Show by happily announcing that we’d get through the day without rain. He was so right. Not only a rainless day, but a gorgeous one. Head gardener Deb Engmark and her crew had the grounds looking beautiful, befitting the weather.  I’ll try to get as many photos as I can of the event here, and will add more later in the week.  Visitors to the show could buy plants and artwork, including jewelry, paintings, sculpture and more. New this year, the Solid Waste Agency gave away FREE compost – a gardeners delight:)

Pat Nosbish of Kansas City, right, and Mary Corkery, of Cedar Rapids, look at daylillies from K&K Gardens of Hawkeye, Iowa, at Saturday's show at Brucemore

Pat Nosbish of Kansas City, right, and Mary Corkery, of Cedar Rapids, look at daylillies from K&K Gardens of Hawkeye, Iowa, on Saturday

 By the time I was there, the Agency’s Stacie Johnson had filled 99 bags of compost to hand out and I’m sure many more followed. Thanks Stacie!! Shannon Ramsay of Trees Forever and her crew posted the value of a few of the towering oaks and maples on the Brucemore Estate. One large oak had a “price tag” of $81,580, meaning the tree could offer that value – by absorbing stormwater, reducing the need for electricity and filtering pollutants – over its lifetime. And a good-sized crowd chose to sit under that tree for shade. Michelle Adams and Myra Hall of Brucemore Cutting Gardens flower shop demonstrated floral arrangements and made it look so simple. Their boss, Chad Rummel, uses bonsai clippers instead of a knife to cut the flowers. Anyone know where those can be found?

Michelle Adams and Myra Hall of Brucemore Cutting Gardens
Michelle Adams and Myra Hall of Brucemore Cutting Gardens

Brucemore was luckily spared during the historic flooding in June that devastated downtown Cedar Rapids and beyond. But it has been fully supportive of rebuilding efforts and demonstrated its partnership with the rest of the area’s cultural/art world with a panel discussion at the garden show on the importance of art.

Janelle McClain, past owner of CornerHouse Gallery, Joe Jennison of the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance and head cheerleader, art therapist Joan Thaler and Stephanie Kohn, curator of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, poignantly described the value of art, especially in light of the floods. By lifting spirits, acting as therapy in overcoming grief, conducting fundraisers and giving people a reason to stay in Eastern Iowa,  the arts and cultural events are needed now more than ever, they said. Jennison noted that 35 of the 140 organizations in the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance were directly affected by the floods and others, indirectly affected, such as losing Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City as a performance venue for some of the Alliance’s members. Very fitting that Brucemore offered this panel discussion in what has been a rough summer for many in Eastern Iowa.  
I also attended Lori Willett’s “Cooking with Herbs 101” session and “Compost Happens” by the Linn County Master Composters. Look for more on those, including one of Willett’s herb recipes, later on this blog.

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What does worm poop look like?

   Only a gardener could get excited by a call to test out vermicompost, a.k.a., worm poop.  Such was the case when James Artis of TerraCycle, makers of the “world’s most eco-friendly products,” offered to send a sample of his company’s products.  Worms create some of the richest fertilizer around and I hadn’t used any since Stacie Johnson suspended her vermicompost business in Robins several years ago.

    In a package sent to The Gazette this week, Artis sent samples of some of TerraCycle’s newer items,  including cleaners and a cool-looking flower pot made from recycled computer plastic that would otherwise end up in the landfill. But I didn’t see what I expected: the brown, crumbly matter that I knew as vermicompost. Another call from James revealed the answer: the company’s worm poop is in liquid form. Packaged in a reused, 20-ounce soda bottle, I  didn’t recognize it for the fertilizer that it was.

   The product promises to not burn your plants and can be used on both indoor plants and outdoor gardens.   It’s available online for $6.95 at Gardener’s Supply company. 

    I’ll be testing it out through this summer, so watch the Homegrown blog for more on this natural fertilizer, as well as the cleaners. Check out more on TerraCycle at:

“World’s Most Eco-Friendly Products: www.terracycle.net/products 
 
 
 

 

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