Not everyone has the space, time or interest to maintain a compost pile. Even if you do, those of us living in cities don’t add protein based foods (meat, dairy, fish) to our piles because they attract unwanted rodents and other animals (our chocolate lab finds the pile irresistable). Still trying to figure out if the polyesters bits in dryer lint that I throw in my compost are small enough to be of no harm but was interested that scientists feel that compost cannot yet be generated artificially 🙂
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an environmentally aware community, you may be given the option to separate your plant- and animal-based (bio)waste for separate recycling/composting. I have designated “garden compost” and “street compost” containers.
In our renovation 17 years ago had a drawer custom made for garden compost into which goes vegetable matter: waste fruit & veggies, tea bags, floor dirt, old pillow feathers, lawnmower clippings and shredded paper, to name a few. That is now goes daily to my “garden compost”. Great for the plants and I don’t have to pay for it.
About 5 years ago local residents were given special covered buckets and encouraged to fill them with all food scraps (I keep the veggie matter for my “garden compost” but put the meat, bones, seafood and food-infused paper products for “street compost”. I soon replaced the bucket with a commercially available container that seals out bugs and smells. We line the container with bio-compostable bags and place the full bags in a designated streeetside rolling bin, along with our garden clippings, that then go to the municipal composting facility that is able to speed-compost with high heat.
Even tightly sealed lined containers can be both SMELLY and attracts FLIES. Not to be deterred, our local waste management company, Recology, suggests:
Sprinkle baking soda if it starts to smell.
Deter flies with citrus, lavender, eucalyptus or lemongrass oils by placing a few drops on a cloth and leaving it inside or on top of the pail.
If your community needs to come up to speed in the composting arena, contact your local elected officials and ask them adress “compostables waste management” in the next waste management contract cycle. Refer them to Recology or other waste management companies with a good track record on how to implement a successful program.Composting, Gardening, Recycle | Comment (0)
Recently an email came through decrying that produce was grown in human poop and that Chinese suspend chicken wire crates over the fish ponds and the fish with their shit. While this sounds sensational, in truth, human manure was a standard farming nutrient prior to the flush toilet.
I am not overly concerned about chicken poop or people poop – where do people think dirt comes from? it’s worm & bug poop (also known as castings). The “Circle of Life” is not just a cute song from the Lion King – creatures eat predominantly other creatures – bones, stomachs, poop and all. Cows & horses poop on the land that grows the grass that they soon graze on. Human poop starts as food and is simply food that has been burned as fuel or excess nutrients that cannot be fully absorbed at the time. Allan Savory in his TED presentation establishes how new deserts have been re-established as verdant grasslands by re-introducing traditional cattle herding whereby the droppings both enrich the soil and contain the grass seeds for reseeding.
We need those excess excreted nutrients over and over again each day and they need to return to the food stream through the soil, though a diet entirely of poop is probably not very well balanced and should be mixed with veggie matter for a full-bodied compost. Composting and percolation through the ground to underground aquifers (except those exposed to fracking or other underground toxins) exposes excrement to the pro-biotic bacteria necessary to cleanse it for eventual safe reabsorption into plants. The Rich Earth Institute in Vermont does just that with collected urine (rich in nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium) in a [rpcess they call “peecycling” which is used after it is pasteurized !
That being said, excrement of sick humans and animals should be contained and kept out of the food stream.
No less an authority than our founding father, George Washington, considered people and horse casting to be more valuable than gold. Though he was many things to our nation, he considered himself, first and foremost a farmer. He studied it, saved seeds, used crop rotations, fertilizers, was intimately knowledgeable about the micro-climates of Mt. Vernon & the 8,000 acres he maintained for his wife’s family around Virginia. He built lovely “necessaries”, outhouses, throughout his estate from which the proceeds were harvested regularly and encouraged everyone to use them. The farms were extraordinarily prolific and provided all the food for the family and 300 workers.
Amish have been recycling their refuse regularly though some municipalities are now requiring them to put in leach beds.
Composting, Gardening, Landscaping, manure, Organic, Re-use, Recycle, Sustainable Food, Toxic Chemicals, Water | Comments (2)
I was thinking about how I could save more water at the sink, then thought:
QUESTION: how much water evaporates from an uncovered pool?
ANSWER: 200-300 gallons per WEEK (Marin MWD). In Redwood City, that would cost
about $12-15/mo (but our rates are scheduled to increase soon) and that’s before splash replacement, what people and dogs drip out. An older pool with leaks could increase that evaporation many times over.
Surprisingly, most evaporation occurs in autumn when water temperatures are
high and air temperatures are cold (especially at night).
You can eliminate 80% of evaporation with a pool cover.
A lawn v pool study for Sacramento (much hotter & dryer than Redwood City) figures that a pool still uses less water than a lawn.
A lawn the size of a pool uses 4,270 gals divided by 748 gal/unit = 5.71
units X $6.2/unit =$35/mo to water a swimming pool-sized piece of grass.
So… 1) don’t swap out your pool for a lawn
2) Cover your pool when not in use
3) If you’re eliminating the pool (pool maintenance is getting pricey) replace it with native and drought tolerant plantings that don’t require much water after they have been established.
PaxDonnaVerdeGardening, Landscaping, Toxic Chemicals, Water | Comments (3)
One thing that still remains in my brain from calculus is that the smaller the container, the higher the ratio of container to contents. Once upon a time I could calculate the most cost and weight efficient sized can – who said calculus has no real world applications?
Herb & spice containers jars are low on the container-to-contents sustainability scale. That being said, spices can last many years and they often come in lovely shaped jars and cans. I could not bring myself to throw out the darling A&P spice cans, a favorite wedding-shower gift appropriate for newlyweds on a tight budget. I am quite thrilled that there are now so many options for re-filling these containers and the choices are usually less expensive, as well.
Penzey’s (some stores & online) offers 4, 8 and 16 oz bags of their spices with discounts for the larger bags (again less packaging per oz of spice) plastic bags can be recycled at your grocer with other bags; foodies appreciate their quality and wide variety.
Whole Foods and some health grocers offer the Spicely line of boxed (totally bio-degradeable paper & cellophane) spices that fit perfectly in your jars ;(they also donate a % of sales to a children’s charity). Ethnic groceries and the international aisles in the supers offer authentic bagged spices at excellent prices.
Looking for sustainably & ethically harvested Ceylon cinnamon? Enjoy the photos and stories of La Cannelle plantation.
I’m blessed to live in a climate where I can harvest fresh rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and bay leaf year round – also blessed that they are hardy as I am not the most attentive gardener.Gardening, Packaging, Plastics, Re-use, Sustainable Food | Comment (0)
We enjoy our California wines and watch pennies buying by the case. Those nifty cardboard dividers are useful for storing glassware of all sorts but I just found a new use in the garden. In dry climates, such as ours, many of us are transitioning to drought tolerant landscaping with native plants. Still, in order for the individual plants to stand out, we need to discourage weeds. Pulling weeds out of dry soil leaves the roots intact so, instead, we can create a light/weed barrier of cardboard boxes topped with wood mulch. (Weeds won’t grow because they lack light). Still, cardboard is broken where we put in new plants. Watch the video to see how to solve this problem:
You can do a variation with the 4-prong pieces. Break into 2-prong pieces. Fold back one prong on each . Place the center of the inside “V” shape on either side of the plant. Cover with mulch. Voila!
Gardening, Landscaping, Packaging, Re-use, Water, Zero-Waste | Comment (0)
Grains of sand are as numerous as the stars in the firmament so it would would be a fruitless task to assess the source from which each grain was ground over the eons. Their origins could be from stone, bone, shell or sea detritus worn down by time.
We do know that sand is wonderful for many gardens as both a soil amendment and landscaping aid or element.
Being an inveterate recycler and composter, I was considering the possibilities for shells of the beer-steamed mussels we had just finished enjoying. I had considered offering them on Freecycle to a crafter that might have a creative idea but decided to try to take responsibility for our trash on my own property.
Always starved for inexpensive path and working area materials I’ve added them to the chunky stones and brick where I keep my planting supplies. As they get crunched to pieces, dust flys in and fall leaves crumble between the stones, new dirt is forming. Next year I can pick up the stones and gather that soil from the weed barrier to add to my compost.
Another form of sand is in those little silica packets that come in many electronics. While still sand, we have no idea where they come from or what they have been exposed to. I toss these in my stone pathway but Laura of “Make Life Lovely” has many other great ideas, so check them out!Composting, Gardening, Landscaping, Re-use, Recycle | Comment (0)