Composting without the Mess


May 18th, 2015

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 ūüôā

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.

IMG_3052In 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”.IMG_3050 IMG_3051I 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.

Wine & Weeds: Weed Barrier Tip


December 1st, 2011

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!