All posts by tylerw

The Genius of Jean Pain (article)

This guy is the master of thermal composting. You may have heard of him already; but if not, then get in the know.  Extremely inspiring work.  The difference here is that most people don’t have tons (literally) of material to work with for thermal compost.  From utilizing tons of underbrush that he shreds to a specific size of 1″ x 1/16″ slivers, he is able to heat his own water and collect methane to power his house and car.

I highly doubt this guy leaves his work unattended, but I can’t help but think of what the local authorities think about him and his fire risk to the local woodlands!

Why Use Or Make Compost Tea? (article)

We all know that compost is a wonderful material especially those that practice organic gardening. What could be better than compost? Well how about compost tea. When you begin with good quality compost you will end up with a complete solution of nutrients and bacteria for all your gardening feeds.

Compost tea helps:

  • keep diseases off the plant with the many bacteria that it has.
  • Provide an abundance of food needed for good growth.
  • Destroy any toxins that hurt the plant.
  • Improve the flavor and taste of vegetables.
  • Produce more vibrant flowers.

So why not give this tea a try either by buying it or brewing it yourself. You can now in many good nurseries buy this tea or start brewing the tea yourself.

The results will amaze you, so get started!

The good bacteria that is available in the tea will compete for the plants food. Hunt out the bad critters and eat them up. Helps make the antibiotics to prevent those bad critters. And scare the bad varmints so they don’t attack your plants.

Compost tea that is made in an accurate manner has a abundance of microorganisms which will help your plants growth and overall health as well as the soil that the microorganisms live in. It can be regarded as the yogurt for the soil. The organisms living in the soil are both bad and good. What the tea does is make sure the good guys win By bringing in useful protozoa, bacteria, beneficial nematodes and fungi the tea shows it is the hero needed to save the soil.

When you have good air circulation the bad bacteria cannot live in the soil. But good bacteria will thrive in soil that is well vented with air. Produced the right way this is when compost tea races in. If you have well aerated compost solution you have gotten relieve from of three-quarters of the harmful varmints.

When you use toxic insecticides or chemical fertilizers we quash the amount of beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

Mainly plants make their own vigorous activity and food and one-half of that is delivered to the roots and much of that breaks down into the bordering soil and have you ever wondered who receives that? Right, the goody-goody guys, and then it changes into a beneficial repetition.

Compost tea is made by many different recipes using compost as a beginning substance and making a liquid solution obtained by steeping or soaking a substance. Today, there are many different ways to make a homemade brewery or you can buy in nurseries or online to make your tea. With the advancing technology changing everyday there are bigger and better efforts to better costs and efficiency.

In addition, there are likely as many formulas for compost tea as there are for recipes for chili in Tennessee, with better plans on improvements and a concentration on its utilization for more specialized applications. For example, if you are making compost tea to fight plant pathogens, the inclination is to have as much microbial variety as feasible. While you are brewing the tea many gardeners are adding supplements to the mix like additional bacteria and fungi.

Expecting the best about compost tea is high, but realizing its limitations and having down-to-earth expectations are essential. One comes to mind is when to use this concoction and that is almost immediately after brewing. Since you are presenting live organisms you want them to be alive when application is done.

An excellent reason for making compost tea is to transport microbial mass of living matter, fine organic matter, and soluble chemical elements of compost into an aqueous stage that can be put on soils and plant surfaces in ways not accomplishable or economically possible with regular compost.                         -James Ellison

How many composting hair salons are there?

As I was getting my usual lame haircut today, I started daydreaming a bit.  I always like to take a nap while I’m in the chair…and I couldn’t stop thinking about why this hair salon isn’t composting.  I mean really, what waste do they generate?  Paper receipts, and a lot of hair.

I decided to do a quick search and see how many hair salons came up that mentioned composting…only a few.  If you live in the Santa Cruz area, check out Oasis Salon, the first green certified salon:

They have a great video that talks about what it takes to green your salon, and shows how much money you can save while reducing your waste to near zero.  Any hair stylists out there?  Go for it!  Need any help on the composting part of it?  Let me know.

The Spin Bin compost tumbler… kinda nice, but not for me.

Spin Bin Compost Tumbler Product Video

Uh oh, here comes the Spin Bin!  It looks like this was built in direct response to the old Tumbleweed compost tumbler model and all of its complaints on YouTube…even the sound quality of the video.

Basically, they took the old model and added a bunch of ventilation slots all over it.  I think this was a good addition, as the holes in the other one were rather sparse and tiny.  On top of that, they added specific holes for placing your compost thermometer inside…awesome!

They also mention that the interior of the tumbler is now ribbed, for your composting pleasure.  I guess this helps move the material around inside a bit better?  I have no idea.  Seems like this would be the case.

In case you forgot how to compost, there’s instructions forged into the lid…on the inside!  It would be funny to have a full tumbler, forget how to make compost and take off lid and peer through the slime to read the instructions.  Seems a bit useless.

My main complaint is still the same, it’s way too large for me to consider using.  My backyard is cramped as it is, and this would never work…however for those of you with ample space, it seems okay.  It looks like a cement mixer or something…but uglier.  If they figured out how to make this collect compost tea, that would be a huge plus.

Weeds in the Compost Pile – Should You Worry? (article)

Should weeds go in the compost pile, especially those with seeds? This question is bound to arise in midsummer as a bumper crop of weeds hits most gardeners. Here are some thoughts on the matter but you have to make up your own mind.

First of all, it would appear that weeds that have not gone to seed would all be safe to use for compost. However, the gardener needs to look at the plant itself. Chances are that an annual weed that has been uprooted and the roots allowed to dry will be dead before it hit the pile. Perennial weeds are a different sort all together.

Their roots are likely to survive a long time. In appearance they will often be white and thick with moisture retentive properties, ready to wait until circumstances allow them to sprout and spread, circumstances like the edges of a compost pile with warmth, moisture and food. Actually, they may be more trouble than weeds with thousands of viable seeds.

After all we are told that every cubic foot of soil has millions of seeds. Even if there is only one million weed seeds in a cubic foot of your garden soil, and that only the ones in the top inch will sprout, that means that there are five hundred seventy-eight weeds ready to sprout in every square inch of garden soil. How much difference will a few more seeds per cubic foot make?

Balance this with the knowledge that those weeds represent a great source of nitrogen for the compost pile. Plus, their roots have gone deep and long to capture a lot of mineral content for the soil which you can now move into the bins to enrich the topsoil later. Just as carrots and corn will gather both similar and different things from the soil, so do different weeds and thus a good mix of weeds for the compost pile implies a richer pile by far. Also the quick composters must remember that a fast pile is a hot pile and this will kill a lot of the seeds and the perennial roots as well.

So the plants that we call weeds may be a nuisance in the garden but a treasure in the compost bins. As the mystery of composting happens in the back yard, the treasure of weeds becomes the black gold of compost.                                 -Darrell Feltmate

I find this to be a somewhat confusing article…or at least that it further solidifies my position that composting to most is an art.  He states that weeds are the “black gold” of compost, which is quite a bold claim.  I like that he lays out the fact about millions of seeds being in every foot of soil…but there’s also millions of types of seeds, no?

I don’t want weeds in my compost.  They suck up the moisture from the rest of the pile, especially if they’re near the top.  Even if the roots are high in mineral content, I have plenty of other sources for minerals instead of weeds.

Even after stating this, I find it funny because in the end we’ll both have awesome compost piles to play with.

You just composted WHAT?

Ever read a composting article about all these different things you didn’t know you could compost?  There’s TONS of crap you can put in your compost pile, some more relevant than others.  While I didn’t include “wine or brewery waste” in my video, I did use condoms, hair balls and that annoying Sun Chips bag.

My predictions:

I think everything will break down within 12 weeks, except for maybe the Sun Chips bag and the condoms.  Supposedly latex takes a really long time to break down, so let’s see what happens.  I think the cork will take a while too, since I didn’t chop it up into smaller pieces.  Whichever sock I threw in that has a synthetic blend, I imagine there will be a skeleton left behind there, too.

Fun fun fun!  I can’t wait to see the results.  The colder months are on their way too, so if you want to get critical and say I’m not being fair to the various items and their decomposition speed, go right ahead: I don’t care.  The point is that I’m going to show you what happens when you put less obvious stuff in your compost.

What do you think will happen to this stuff?  Leave a comment below.

Friends of the Wissahickon Install Composting Toilet Near Rex Avenue Bridge

Philadelphia—September 2010—The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) will celebrate the opening of the second composting toilet in Fairmount Park at the WPA shelter near the Rex Avenue Bridge on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. This composting toilet is totally self- sustaining, with no need for plumbing, and electrical power supplied by solar panels.
“We are excited to partner with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation on the installation of the Wissahickon Valley’s second bio-composting toilet,” says FOW Executive Director Maura McCarthy. “This is the first compost toilet entirely powered by alternative energy sources.”
A survey conducted by FOW in 2006 indicated that 74% of park users wanted more bathroom facilities in the Wissahickon. These toilets are helping to meet that need and are serving as prototypes for future composting toilets in the park.
FOW structures crew worked with Fairmount Park District 3 staff (part of PPR) and the Student Conservation Association to restore the WPA structure and install the composting toilet. The toilets are cost effective, environmentally safe, odorless, and require no water or chemicals and very little maintenance.
“These composting toilets are one of the many ways we are building a green infrastructure in the most important green space in our city,” says McCarthy.                       -Denise Larrabee

Yay, go Philly!  This is some some local news for me, we’re getting another composting toilet.  Have you ever looked into these?  Pretty awesome stuff.  What isn’t awesome is the price ($2,000+), but you use them in the proper application (ie in a public park), they pay themselves off pretty quickly.

So the paid way to go would be something like what Envirolet offers:

Or the build-it-yourself way, found at wikiHow:

Not surprisingly, I’m pretty curious about this.  Plus I have a broken toilet and a lot of scrap wood in my backyard…uh oh!

Ten questions with Michael Mulvaney, Ph.D.

Hey everyone, stay tuned for my upcoming interview with soil scientist Dr. Michael Mulvaney.  I will be asking him all of your burning questions about (you guessed it) dirt!

Are paper and cardboard destructive to your compost?  Is turning your compost pile really necessary?  Will food scraps high in citric acid destroy your compost pile?

All this and more coming soon.  I can’t wait to hear his replies, this guy really knows his stuff!

Envirocycle Compost Tumbler, Up Close and Personal

Envirocycle Composter Review – Part 2

I decided to make a follow up video to my Envirocycle compost turner review that addresses some of the questions I’ve received about it.  Be sure to “Like” my video and leave a comment for me!

Thanks so much, and keep it dirty!

Using a Compost Thermometer (video)

Using a Compost Thermometer to Determine How hot is your Pile?

This dude is nuts, I love him!  No one can make a compost thermometer review more exciting than he does.

I think it’s funny that he just reads everything off the package…the package certainly provides a lot of instruction to get your pile working properly.  His pile is only 60 degrees…dead as a doornail.  Pay attention to your ratio, dude!  Doesn’t look like you’re following 3:1.

I definitely want to do a collaboration with this guy, I really like his energy.  He’s reviewing a good product as well, so at least he has that right.  But the beauty of open piles is that eventually it will all break down, even if you ignore it like he does.  I’d have to say this is my favorite composting video out there.

What is this guy’s last name?  I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying in the beginning.