Teach the Children

We live in an affluent community. Composting for many seems to be too time consuming, too not cool, too many other things to do like workout at the gym. I think we can skip the adult generations so let’s teach the children.

Recently I did a workshop with a k to 5 Green Team in our Town. The students were truly engaged. They filled two Earth Machine composters with leaves in twenty minutes. And they are smart. Those kids knew about carbon footprints, molecules and photosynthesis. Teachers at the Foster School seem to be doing a great with environmental education.

The time is now to carbon sink.

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Together: We Compost

Maureen and Steve Demenna are neighbors.  They do not have a suitable area around their house for a composting bin.  We all live close to Hingham Harbor and our land is limited.  They have asked if they could share my composting bins.  They really wanted to participate in composting.

Some mornings when I’m eating breakfast, I see them sharing food scraps with my red wiggler worms.  Kind of neighborly.   I believe that when neighbors share in a common goal, we begin to realize the more we all have in common.

All winter they have been dropping off  their raw food.  Yesterday I harvested the compost in the bin that they were using.  The red wigglers made it through the winter and there were hundreds of them.  The worms are not suppose to survive the New England winter.  I would guess that the increase in the mass of scraps and with Maureen’s coffee grounds, they were able to stay healthy.

I believe that during this pandemic, nature is sending us a message.  Composting is one thing that will reduce chemicals and pesticides in our environment.  Healthy plants do not often get attacked by bugs.  From my experience, if they do, they will survive.

Demenna

Big Pharma

Time Magazine:

AMERICANS ARE TAKING 34 PERCENT MORE ANXIETY MEDS SINCE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC STARTED,

I certainly cannot put myself in the position of all Americans or especially for those in impoverished countries right now.  This pandemic is terrible.

I think many of us have to come to the realization that Nature is Angry.  From an environmental stand point, I think internationally we have a lot to be concerned about.

People are stressed and according to Time Magazine, pharmacies are getting richer.  I think many would agree, that if people get out, exercise a little and do something for the environment that some of the stress might go away.

Today there were some posts on A Sustainable Hingham.  Some members took a walk and picked up trash on trails.  My neighbor will sleep well tonight because he was planting trees.  The plantings look beautiful.  I spent some time making Mel’s mix, sifting compost and worm castings.

It is a difficult time for most.  I hope some can find options for stress relief in a holistic way.  For those nurses, doctors, attendants and people working for essential businesses right now; your are the best.  Be safe.

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Waste Not: Politicians Beware

We live in a community south of Boston.  I recently did a small survey  involving residents who compost.   We were interested to know how much they were composting weekly.  Informally it seems that most people guessed that they compost a minimum of about 5 pounds of food waste per week.

Newburyport, Massachusetts has a pilot curbside composting pick up program.  They have measured the average amount of household scraps to be in the 10 to 11 pound range each week.  If this weight is closer to the real number than the small sampling that we had done, our town would save 260,000 pounds of trash per month  That equals  3,120,000 pounds of waste per year that would not have to be payed for.  That’s right, 1,560 tons per year.  If we multiply an estimated tipping fee of eighty five dollar per ton, what would Hingham taxpayers save?   Hingham could put that money into environmental education.  Maybe start thinking about saving our planet.

I have made a decision.  I believe that some politicians feel that they are making big picture decisions for environmental solutions.  I want the people who represents me to look at the little ways that they can contribute to global solutions.  I will be very cautious about voting for any politician who does not compost.  I will ask the question at greet and meet sessions as to weather the candidate presenting her or his political positions composts at home.

Composting doesn’t have to be a big hassle.  If students can do it, they might be able to teach some disconnected adults.  I believe: “Teach the Children to Teach Adults”.

Foster Elementary Students Compost

Let the students teach their parents.  We were taking a walk and I wanted to see how the composting project has developed at our local elementary school.  Parents should follow the environmental leadership of students.

Kids at Foster compost.  Although school is out because of the pandemic, there is an opportunity for all of us to facilitate composting projects and start growing vegetables in our own backyards.

The kale that students grew in the fall has weathered the winter.  Kale is hardy and when grown in composts the results are amazing.

Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset is the guiding force to these gardening projects.  By the way you can log on to their website to find out how to order local and freshly grown produce every Wednesday.

Ffirst

Fkale

Big Blue II

Today Big Blue was completed.  My motivation is to produce large amounts of compost and lots of red wiggler worms to share with other gardeners.   Using pure compost, we are able to grow a lot of food in a very small area of Square Foot Gardens.

The technique for using this compost bed is to fill it from left to right.  As decomposition takes place, the raw materials will be emptied and moved toward the right side of the bed.  Once the materials are filled at the far end, the left side of the bed should be ready to process.

BigBlue2

Big Blue’s unique components are: PVC aerating tubes, a solar air pump, used shower curtain for moisture and heat control and easy access to the process the finished product.

 

Big Blue

I just wanted you to share the photo in order to show people reading this post the mechanics of how this rapid composting systems works.  The raised bed was given to me.  Now it will be used to make lots of compost.

When oxygenating compost materials, the results for good rich compost is accelerated.   Traditionally, people turn over the compost by hand and aeration helps the microbes digest plant material faster.  With this new concept, the air will be circulated through the white PVC pipe that is lying on the top of 2′ by 4’s.  In the beginning we will cover the aeration tubes with leaves.  Air will circulate during the day.  The energy for the pumping the air into the bed will come from the sun.

Food scraps will be placed at one end of the bed.  Decomposition will take place.  As the initial food scraps decompose, the new scraps and leaves will gradually accumulate toward to the other end of the bed .  When it completes the first cycle, the compost at the starting point should be ready to sift and use.

In addition to the aeration process, red wiggler worms will be doing their duty.  Worm castings are selling right now for $15.00 a gallon.   Keep in mind that this process means no fertilizers or pesticides.  Weak plants are the ones that get attacked by pests.  During the pandemic and uncertain times regarding food security, this might be the year to turn your thumb green.

This technique has been done successfully on a commercial level.  We feel confident that the same process can be replicated in a garden space.  The next post will show the composting bed as a working model.

BigBlue

 

Not Expensive – Just Compost

I was on a zoom session today with people who want to reduce waste in our town.  Thank you Janice McPhillips and Ann Morin for setting up the forum.  It was excellent.

I have been thinking for days about composting for less or with reuse.  There are many composting products that are expensive.  There are some that are very nice, durable and last a long time. If you are just getting started and want to see if this will work for your family, this is an inexpensive way to get started.

I made this compost barrel today in my basement.  Several years ago I found this barrel at our town dump.  The bottom was broken.  For a while I planted vegetables in it.  I change Square Foot Gardening beds.  I didn’t recycle it but stacked under the porch.

The bottom of the barrel had already removed.  I made two cuts in the front for a door so that composted material from the bottom can be removed and shoveled to the top opening.  This will help aerate the compost and will move the microbes to the top.  After the shoveling process the flexible door can be released to hold the composting material back in place.

Since I have a lot of composting equipment here on a small piece of property, I do not have a need for another composter.  I will be giving this homemade compost container away to the first person to request it who was on our remote zoom session.

Reduce – Reuse – XXXXXXX some things

TrashBarrel

 

Composting Partnerships

Some of our friends and neighbors might be a little distant from the benefits of composting.  It may be possible however to slowly introduce the use of waste products in a positive way to them.  Let’s call it “The Art of Composting”.

One of our neighbors collects compost and drops it off into our green compost bin.  The composter in the photo gets so heavy that it is hard to turn on the rollers.  Worm castings are very heavy.  I aerate the bin with a little aquarium air pump twice each day.  The pump works on a timer.

All of the Square Foot Gardens in the yard use no soil.  Each spring, I just add compost.  The original soil less mix is: 1 part vermiculite, 1 part peat moss or coconut core and 1 part of five different types of compost.

With this rich organic compost mix, no need for pesticides in our Square Foot Gardens.  Pests pick on weak plants.

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Curiosity through Composting

For some parents a week with the children home probably feels like a month already.  On-line classes are good and the technology involved is probably more of a learning experience for parents than for children.  I talked to a physics teacher yesterday and he believes that Google Classroom is a useful tool.

But in my opinion science learned through practical application can be fun and it sticks.  How many people do you know that say, “I hate science”?  That makes sense too because right now in the United States not much of the Federal executive decision making is based on science.  I guess they didn’t pay attention in class.

There is a lot of science in garbage.  We all know that trash is expensive to get rid of, single stream recycling is no longer cost effective, reusable is in and manufacturers have a lazy eye when it comes to packaging.   Our learning curve needs to accelerate.

The children in Honduras are an inspiration when it comes to composting and gardening.   Food security is not a given for them.  When Kathy and I do horticulture / science projects in their classrooms, they are attentive and curious.  They helped me define a composting area behind the school.  The little children were caring cement blocks that may have weighed more than what they weigh.

Michael Imhoff the horticulture teacher at Quincy High School shared the following video with me which is excellent.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4JssQPTYF8.

Please be mindful that a perfect compost pile is not easy to develop.  But, “Just Do It”.  Get started and learn some science along the way.

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