Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Composting in Paradise

Guest blogger Cher Mohring

I love my job so much it’s hard to even take a vacation without thinking about reducing waste. That’s why during a recent trip to the Bahamas I discovered I had as many pictures of compost as I did of the beach!  Because most of my Facebook friends are not that interested in seeing compost pictures, I decided this was a good place to share them.

Here in Southwest Ohio, we use compost to loosen our clay soil for better root penetration, improve its capacity to hold water, and add essential nutrients. 

Grand Bahama Islands soil is very sandy.  Sandy soil has large air spaces between particles, allowing water to drain very quickly and microbes to consume organic matter quickly.  For this reason, amending their soil with compost is essential to hold water and add nutrients for plants to grow.  

Wish you lived in the Bahamas? Me too! Let’s live vicariously through these Bahama residents and see how they compost in their backyards.

Mary has a beautiful, eclectic landscape.  She has a constant supply of palm tree leaves to feed multiple compost sites.

This three bin unit is overflowing with material.

Piles of palm leaves.

Karl and Eva have amazing vegetable gardens that require lots of compost.  As you can see from their pictures below, they are also excellent at reusing!
One of three compost bins made from old skids.

Check out the size of this bin!


They like to sift their compost before using it in the garden.

Here are some of their container gardens where they use the compost.

Tom and Marilyn have piles of palm leaves like Mary, but they are just getting started with composting food scraps.  It will be interesting to see how long those coconuts take to decompose...

Ol’ Freetown Farm grows papaya, bananas, sugar cane, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and various other vegetables and herbs.  They also keep chickens, horses, and goats. What a great combination to make and use compost!
Compost pile of horse manure and sugar cane.
Finished compost pile with volunteer potatoes growing in it.
One of their sources of compost material.
Just in case you’re not as much of a compost geek as me, here’s a picture of the beach.
This guest blog is written by Cher Mohring, Program Specialist at Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District.  Cher assists schools, events, and multi-family residences to set up waste reduction programs.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Composting Coffee to Make Your Garden Grow

Reposted with updated information.

I have to admit, I’m not a regular coffee drinker. It’s tea for me, but I love, love, love the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Every once in a while, I’ll cheat on my tea habit and splurge on some frou, frou chocolaty mocha deliciousness with lots of whipped cream. Of course, my coworkers then make fun of me as I uncontrollably bounce around the office and speak in caffeinated double time.

But there is another reason to love coffee besides its delightful aroma and jolting
caffeine high. Spent grounds from your cup of joe make a fantastic addition to your compost bin and provide plants with important nutrients. The used-up grounds contain loads of nitrogen which speeds up the composting process, giving you finished compost sooner (cup of steaming hot nitrogen booster, anyone?). And, while we may love the smell of coffee, many animals do not, so mixing the grounds with food waste will actually deter raccoons and other nosey critters from messing with your compost bin.

Compost Buzz
Gardeners in the know covet finished compost for its ability to improve soil structure, retain moisture, and create healthy productive gardens. Spent coffee grounds “sweeten the pot” even more by adding phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, all minerals your plants need. And, after the grounds decompose, they release oodles of the nitrogen your plants love.

If you’re a regular java drinker, you probably have enough spent grounds to satisfy a backyard compost pile. Simply throw the grounds, filter and all, into the bin. Us non-coffee drinkers have to go about getting our coffee ground fix creatively. You can pilfer the coffee maker at work, sweet talk your neighbor, or even ask a local coffee shop. Most cafes will gladly set aside some spent grounds for you, and some even package the used-up grounds for people to take for free.

Coffee Emporium would love to share their coffee grounds or check with your local coffee shop.

House Blend
Of course, don’t get in over your head. If you add enough grounds to keep your compost bin awake for a week, make sure to add plenty of carbon based material, like dead leaves, to balance out the nitrogen. Otherwise, you risk the pleasant coffee aroma being replaced by a far less pleasant rotting odor. Not the sort of smell you want to wake up to, trust me.

Other than remembering to add leaves, the process of composting coffee grounds is super simple with definite rewards for your garden. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a tall iced mocha is calling my name.