Don’t throw away your toast, make it into to compost!
By Jonathan Pavley
Pay attention for just one day to how much food gets thrown ‘away’. Observe on a spring or fall day how many bags of leaves are at the end of driveways being thrown ‘away’. Now consider this…food scraps and yard debris; both organic matter, comprise 25 percent of America’s Waste Stream.
That’s 63 million tons of so called 'garbage' thrown 'away' each year. In nature organic matter is cycled through the environment, while in society organic matter moves linearly through the environment. Where does this ‘garbage’ go to? We probably know the answer to that. It doesn’t go ‘away’ at all. Instead its burned in incinerators and collected in landfills year upon year creating and contributing to significant environmental problems.
Organic matter, a.k.a.: garbage, doesn’t have to end up in landfills. It can be turned into a rich and valuable resource naturally through composting. Composting harnesses a natural biological process in which microbes transform biodegradable organic matter into an attractive, easy to handle material suitable for a variety of landscape or potting applications. By simply allowing microbes to do what they do best allows us as individuals to play an active role in mending the broken, sustainable organic matter cycle.
Composting is an enriching and educational experience that can be practiced at home, school, or work. It engages the three R’s (recycle, reduce, reuse); by reducing the waste stream as well as eliminating the need for toxic pesticides and fertilizer. In the composting process we reuse organic matter and allow Micro-organisms to recycle it into compost. Unfortunately composting is still the least practiced of the three R’s. With composting, the half pound of organic matter thrown ‘away’ by the average American every day could become a great American Resource instead of adding to the ever growing American Waste Stream.
Amending potting soils and the earth with compost has numerous dynamic benefits. Compost adds a crumbly texture to soil aiding in water retention, reducing erosion, and if mixed with clay (like many of our yards in Ferndale), improving drainage and aeration. Compost acts as a slow release fertilizer, feeding plants over time rather than dowsing them all at once. Frequently homeowners and conventional farmers apply more nutrients than are taken up by plants, causing nutrient leaching and negatively impacting ground water and related aquatic marine systems.
Nutrients and biology within compost attracts beneficial organisms such as worms as opposed to synthetic fertilizers which decrease populations of beneficial organisms. Due to the diversity and quantity of microbes, compost provides plants with a defense against soil and plant diseases. Use of compost reduces the effects of common plant pathogens such as seedling damping off disease and tomato blight, a disease affecting tomato and potato varieties, as well as powdery mildew known to negatively impact squash, cucumber, and cantaloupe. When you use compost many beneficial physical, chemical, and biological factors are gained.
With practical information and techniques gathered from your local garden center and friends; no matter where you live or what your income bracket you have the ability to equip yourself to start composting and enriching your life and your garden.
There are three composting methods that can be used.
Passive Cool Composting (such as open air piles)
Active Hot Composting (a process that involves heat, water, and consistent turning)
Worm Composting (using of worms to aid in organic matter breakdown…this can be done inside as well as out)
Select a method best meeting your needs based upon the amount of resources, (space, time, materials) that are available. Stop in to your local garden center and find out about how you can start composting today!
There are two upcoming composting workshops:
May 8 – Oak Park
SOCWA Master Composters are presenting a free workshop at Four Seasons Garden Center this Saturday:
Saturday, May 8; 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Four Seasons Garden Center
14471 Eleven Mile Rd., Oak Park
(between Coolidge and Greenfield; south side - parking in back)
Topics to be covered include:
• What is compost? Homemade vs. SOCRRA compost
• Materials for starting a home compost pile - "dos" and "donts"
• Maintaining a nuisance-free pile
• The composting process - go decomposers!
• Composting for connoiseurs....banner batches...variations for fun!
• Compost benefits - nutrients, microbes, water quality and more
• Using compost in the home landscape
We will be sharing practical tips for making earth-friendly compost the easy way.
All are welcome...experienced composters...and beginnings. The mix makes for an informative workshop!
To register, please e-mail me (LFDean@aol.com) or telephone the SOCWA office: 248-288-5150.
We hope to see you!
May 11 - Ferndale
WHAT: Ferndale Green Tuesday Seminar: Composting Magic!
WHO: Ferndale Environmental Sustainability Commission along with
Lillian Dean, Master Composter and SOCWA Healthy Lawns and Gardens Coordinator
WHEN: Tuesday, May 11 – 6:30pm-8:00pm
WHERE: Kulick Community Center
1201 Livernois St. – Ferndale, MI
Or you can stop by Green Thumb Garden Center at 22963 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220, or call 248-439-1851. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff can help with many garden and composting questions.