Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for compost

Compost. Managing a Natural Process

Backyard Composting is simply taking a process that’s completely natural and speeding it up so that we can reuse the yard waste from our gardens for the benefit of our gardens. If you can’t take one of my classes (see previous post) then take the time to watch these videos and feel free to ask if you have any questions!

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Last Composting/Wildlife Gardening Class until the Fall

COMPOST

I’m teaching my last composting and wildlife gardening class until Sept 09 this Saturday, May 9 at the Charlotte Nature Museum (1658 Sterling Rd, Charlotte, NC – (704) 372-6261). This class is sponsored by Mecklenburg County and attendees get a wire compost bin and a book about composting and sustainable gardening practices. Its an interactive class style and I use a lot of pics and short video clips that I take for Smell Like Dirt in my presentation. We’ll discuss using worms for composting kitchen scraps too!

If you want to attend, you must call the Nature Museum directly to register. I hope you will join us! Click here for more information

Worm Workshop!

Worms are a gardeners best friend! Not only do they keep your soil loose in the garden, if you keep a worm bin, they will turn your kitchen scraps into great food for your plants! And worms make great pets. Low maintenance and they work 24×7 eating and pooping until you have a perfectly natural additive to your garden. Composting is basically managing a natural process, and so is vermicomposting. I’ll be facilitating a vermicomposting workshop on 11/4 at 7pm (after the polls close). If you would like to participate, send an email to HAWKNCWF@gmail.com. Cost is $15 per bin or you can just observe for free. To get an idea of what we will be doing, take a look at this video we shot about building a worm bin called “Global Worming” Get it?

Composting Season Approaches

Yes, another re-run but for good reason! Composting season is just around the corner. The very best thing you can do for your garden is to add compost. And spreading free compost that you made yourself is the most satisfying feeling you can imagine. So, we’re re-posting the compost video, Part 1 (part 2 at right in the VodPod) and if you live near Charlotte and want to take a 4-hour composting class, here’s the schedule. I’ll be teaching the classes on Oct 4 at Reedy Creek and Oct 25 at Latta Plantation.

Are you Certifiable?

Monarch Butterfly

Ok, so most of us know about getting our backyards (or schoolyards, or businesses, etc) certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, right? It’s a fun thing to do and gives you great bragging rights and a wonderful opportunity to educate friends and neighbors on providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter and places to raise young) while reducing (eliminating!) chemical usage and practicing other eco-friendly gardening methods. But why stop there? Look into getting your yard certified as a Monarch Waystation. Like a lot of wildlife, Monarchs are struggling due to loss of habitat, pesticide usage, loss of wintering grounds, etc, and need all the help we can give them. Monarchs are particularly needy because in their caterpillar stage they are incredibly picky about what kind of plant they will eat and only have one host plant—Milkweed (Asclepias)— and milkweed is becoming increasingly rare. And as with all butterflies, if you want butterflies, you have to provide the host plant for the caterpillar.

Monarch Caterpillar

Fortunately, there are over 100 species of milkweed, so no matter where you are in the country, chances are there’s a milkweed native to your area. You’ll also need to provide nectar providing plants for the migrating, so make sure you research what’s native to your area and plant nectar sources that will be blooming when the Monarchs migrate through your area, especially fall blooming Asters

Monarch on Aster

And while you are learning what you need to provide to become a Certified Waystation, go ahead and see what other certifications might be available to you. Here in North Carolina, those of us trying to incorporate as many native plants into the garden can be certified as a Native Plant Habitat by the NC Native Plant Society. In Colorado you can even take classes to become a Native Plant Master, which I think would go nicely with my Master Composter certification!

You’re doing all the hard work to provide for wildlife anyway, and your friends and neighbors already think you’re certifiable, so prove them right!

The Spud-O-Matic!

The Great Potato Experiment of 2008! We don’t grow many vegetables, but each year, I have the urge to do something people-food related, so this year we’re trying a method of growing potatoes in a small space that we’ve dubbed the Spud-O-Matic. We will be posting updates on our success (or not), and will hopefully finish with a video of us enjoying a great potato salad. So, for all you backyard gardeners, watch and see if this is something you would like to try and if you do, please send us comments or pictures on your experience. Credit for this method goes to David Blackley at Renfrow Hardware in Matthews, NC, but we will take all the blame if it doesn’t work due to silly rookie mistakes.

Global Worming

I’ve got a dirty little secret! Actually a bunch of them. I have worms. I’m a huge fan of vermicomposting, or using worms to process my kitchen scraps. Its very easy to do and can be done cheaply as well. Its a great way for people who live in apartments or condos who can’t build a compost pile, to recycle their kitchen scraps. Done right, your vermicompost bin will not smell at all. There’s a great book by Mary Appelhof called Worms Eat My Garbage, and she has plans for a coffee table that opens up to a worm composter. Ok, I’m not that nuts, but its proof that you can do it indoors and your guests would never know. Worm poop, or castings, is a great organic fertilizer that helps the plants grow while keeping pests and diseases at bay. I hope you’ll watch the video and be inspired to start your own can-o-worms. Pls feel free to email me if you have any questions. smelllikedirt@gmail.com