Category Archives: General

Send me your compost pictures!

As I was staring at a jug of tea leaf compost that was gifted to me from a nearby cafe, I was thinking to myself how gorgeous it looked.  What does your compost look like?  Send me a picture of your compost and I’ll post it on my page.  I’d like to create a photo gallery of compost from around the world… sound good?  Send me a JPEG and include your name, location, and a story about it to weaver [dot] tyler [at] gmail [dot] com.

Who knows, maybe I’ll send you a random gift as a thank you…

Happy composting!

Kitchen Composters, Compost Crocks, Or Compost Tumblers, What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a kitchen composter, compost crock and a compost tumbler?  Do I need all of these?  Are they all the same thing?  I’m going to describe what each of these things are and how to find what works best for you.

A compost crock is basically a container that you have in your kitchen to hold your food scraps until you get a chance to go out to the yard and empty it in your compost pile.  I’ve seen these made out of plastic, ceramic and stainless steel.  Since plastic tends to be somewhat flimsy and hold smells (especially compost), I recommend avoiding them.  Ceramic is nice looking, heavy and easy to clean, but it’s also easy to break.  Therefore, I tend to like stainless steel compost crocks.  I’ve had mine for quite some time, and many of them come with a charcoal filter to combat the smell although I’ve never had a problem with this.

Could you use a Tupperware container to do the job?  Absolutely.  However, if you can shell out a few bucks, the stainless steel crock will show its worth to you quickly.  Of the three items, having a compost crock is probably the most necessary.

Next up, the kitchen composter.  This is usually referring to a plastic bucket that sits in your kitchen and collects food scraps.  You add a rice bran blend to the bucket as it fills, and it breaks down the material surprisingly quickly.  I feel that this is the expensive way to go, as you need to buy refills of the rice bran and it isn’t all that cheap.

Most kitchen composters have a spout on them to collect “compost tea”, which is awesome.  Compost tea is like steroids for your plant, so it’s nice to have that bonus for using a kitchen composter.  They’re also good if you live in a cramped space and you don’t have the yard space for composting.

Finally, we have the compost tumbler.  There’s a lot of variations on composting in your yard, such as having a hole in the ground, a chicken wire fence with the material layered high, or a secure barrel of varying levels of quality.  When I first started composting, I had a trench in the ground and used a shovel to turn the pile…this got old pretty quickly.  Stray animals would mess around with the contents, so I needed to get a contained pile going.  Using a tumbler keeps the moisture straight, the animals out, and some even provide compost tea.

As you can see, all three items have different purposes, but using all three is not necessary.  I love composting, so I own a compost tumbler as well as a nice kitchen compost crock.  Whether you live in the city or the country, hot or cool climate, you can benefit from implementing any of these in your home.

Kitchen Compost Crock (article)

I keep garbage on my kitchen counter and I’m proud of it. Used coffee grinds, tea bags, vegetable peels, leftovers and even some of my junk mail. No, I’m not a disgusting slob, I’m a kitchen composter.

During the winter, it’s not always fun to take food scraps out to the compost heap. Most people keep their compost bins far away from their houses. Usually they’re hidden in a corner of the yard somewhere. This means that you can’t just poke your head outside and toss stuff in. During the winter taking kitchen scraps out to the compost pile definitely becomes a shoes and coat required affair. Buying a Compost Crock is a great way cut down on the wintery treks through snow and ice to your compost bin.

It’s nice to have a container right there on your counter to toss garbage into. Mostly I use it for coffee grinds and egg shells but other kitchen waste stuff would be fine too. Just avoid things like meat and fat. Most crocks kind of look like cookie jars so you won’t mind having it on the your kitchen counter. Some even have a carbon filter in the lid so they don’t even smell bad.

With a kitchen composter you aren’t actually making compost in the crock but it’s a helpful container to store compostables that you’ll eventually take out to your compost bin. And if you don’t have a compost bin, then what are you waiting for? Compost is one of the best things that you could add to your vegetable garden or flower beds. Even indoor plants will benefit from compost being added to their post.

If you’re tired of battling winter weather to get to your compost bin then perhaps a kitchen compost crock is for you. They’re attractive, they don’t smell bad and they can help you compost all year long.    -Anthony Tripp

It’s funny to me why kitchen composters exist.  They’re there when you’re not able to go outside and dispose of the food scraps yourself.  As soon as I think of colder months, I think of my kitchen compost crock.  Whether or not you get one with a filter, it should do the trick just fine.  I use one with a filter and I haven’t changed it like I was supposed to…still no problems with smell.  Then again, who changes their Brita filter when they’re supposed to?

Worm Composting Introduction (video)

Worm Composting 101

This is a nicely done video showing the basics of worm composting.  Not sure why she has a clear plastic bin, worms are favorable to dark conditions.  Either way, it’s a great video showing what I think will become more popular over the next few years…the finished soil from a good worm bin is insanely good.

It reminds me of kombucha brewing too, once you start it initially, it just keeps multiplying.  It’s not a big investment, either…you can get a pound of red wigglers for between $20 and $30.  Definitely the way to go in the wintertime when you need extra help.

Plant Damage By Immature Composts (video)

Plant Damage by Immature Composts: Measuring Respiration with Solvita

Compost scientists…who woulda thought?  If the video clip seems foreign, I think the simplest lesson to learn from it is that patience is a virtue with composting.  Immature compost is a reality, it can eat up your plants’ oxygen supply.  I’d rather have too much mellow compost than a little overpowering compost.

I’m trying to find out where to buy all the gadgets they’re using in the video…how does my compost size up?  My yard says it’s plenty good.  If you can recognize items amongst the dirt, it probably isn’t ready.  Otherwise, wait a little bit and then share the love.

The Secrets of Gardening Herbs in Containers (article)

“What if you live in a high-rise apartment? Does that does not mean you can’t have your own fresh herbs? Gardening herbs in containers is an easy way of creating a beautiful indoor landscape on a shining kitchen windowsill. It is a perfect place to grow some of your favourite herbs. Being creative with a window box or hanging basket can turn an otherwise unimpressive area into something that can in an wink be beautiful, useful and aromatic. In fact, growing herbs in containers is as easy as growing any other house plant. Each plant has it own set of requirements.

All plants need nutrition supplied through sun, soil and water.  There is no exclusion for herbs. The right combination of these elements is the key to growing every type of plant, including herbs, whether indoors or out.   A southern or western exposure will give the best quantity of sunlight.   Lavender has different sunlight requirements than basil or mint but every herb needs adequate sunlight for healthy growth .  Then there are “grow lamps” to supplement the need if natural light is inadequate.

As to the soil you use, it is primary that it drain well to prevent root rot.   This is easily achieved by mixing two parts of a peat rich potting soil with one part coarse sand or perlite for herbs with about an inch of gravel at the bottom of the pots to assure proper drainage.   A teaspoon of lime, per 5-inch pot, should be added to this mix make the soil sweet enough for herbs.

And now to the matter of watering your herbs – watering lightly 2 – 3 times a week should be sufficient.  Misting in between times will give them a nice somewhat humid condition.   A pot will hold water more than the soil in a garden, so it is necessary to be diligent to prevent the roots from get soaked or waterlogged. Never forget well draining soil!

The advantages of gardening herbs in a container are numerous, such as you can move them about as you please, it adds aroma to the room, herbs are a unique type of house plant, etc.   Annual herbs can stay indoors all year long but, perennial will do better if placed outside during the summer and brought indoors before the first frost.   This does not apply to mints, chives or tarragon as they will form firmer and fresher growth after being exposed to a light frost. The lovely flowers of chamomile or the aroma of rosemary provide more reason to grow them indoors.

Although all herbs can be grown in pots , some do better than others such as mint or oregano. Left alone in a garden, these two can take over a corner of any garden but are easily controlled in a pot while adding something different to your apartment.   As I said, gardening herbs in pots is easy and takes only some special knowledge while keeping your culinary herbs available anytime you need them.

Caring for your herbs will ensure a healthy plant. With these tips and your prudence, you will be able to continuously harvest your herbs which will keep them robust giving you more supply for your next recipe.  Pruning herbs just as with other plants encourages new growth.   Periodically feed them and yearly repot them to produce the healthiest herbs. And in the end use them in your recipes, harvest them and give them as gifts to your friends.”     -Home Gardening Tips Moncton

This is a great article, as I’m trying to get more city folk into composting/gardening in their homes even though they’re cramped, up high, and pretty low on the brown contents for their compost.  Growing herbs/mint is super easy.

Anyway, I built a balcony off my bedroom just so I could finally gain roof access to my house… lots of space for planting stuff!

I live on a block that’s covered in trees which I love, but a lot of my plants really struggle with the low light. I’ve put planters out on my balcony and they haven’t done so hot. It’s odd, because I have a few plants that do well inside my first floor windows, facing north even.

I’m trying to learn about how to design an elevated garden across my (flat) roof so I can start growing my own herbs in larger, healthier quantities… ssshh! my neighbors would probably call the City L&I if they saw me up there.

Organic Fertilizing With Unknown Guy (video)

Organic Fertilizing : Making Organic Compost

I wish I knew this guy’s name… I like the way he communicates his excitement about compost.  I always wondered if it was the compost that was making my skin feel different.  I personally have a hard time believing that strictly organic compost would create this effect, but I get what he’s saying…he loves playing with dirt.  Me too.

Organic compost or not, you’re doing the right thing.  Get decomposing, people!

…so does this place compost or not?

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So I’m staying at a hotel in New Jersey this week, and like usual I’m wondering if the place composts their food waste.  I was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philly and a great man by the name of Marvin Dixon was running a full-on compost program.  I was so excited I had to learn more, and was ecstatic to learn that he was using finished compost for their rooftop basil gardens…truly an awesome effort.

Public perception in the “green arena” can do a lot for a company’s image.  This hotel put forth a pretty weak effort all around to show any sustainability effort, which in this day and age is pretty disappointing.  I really believe that eventually it’s going to be a determining factor for whether or not business is conducted: how sustainable is your hotel?

Hey Ocean Place, be more OBVIOUS about composting your food and be proud of yourselves…same goes with your lackluster recycling efforts.  Your patrons will love you for it and be more likely to revisit and soak up more of the awesome ocean view you have going.

Yes, fellow UIBC people, the hotel really does compost!  I went around back and took a look at their waste collection layout and they had a full-on toter system for compost.  There was also a recycling compactor, but I think this was to service all those containers along the beach walkway.  I’m impressed a tad, aren’t you?

Ugh, I have a headache.  At least the beds are cozy.  Then again I’m used to sleeping on a leaky air mattress.

Compost Tumblers: Advantages and Disadvantages (video)

Compost Tumblers: Advantages and Disadvantages

This is a short and sweet video… he’s either super strong or there’s next to material in there!  I’m surprised he didn’t mention the benefit of having a tumbler spinning end over end vs. horizontally.  This looks like a decent tumbler although it looks tippy.  Either way, good stuff.