my belated birthday present…

Today, I woke up in the morning and peeked out in the backyard… there was a big yellow kitty litter bucket.  I don’t have cats, so this could only mean one thing… juicer waste!  My compost tumbler was pretty dead at the moment as I don’t have much in the way of food scraps…but this should fire it right up.  I took the temperature before I put in the scraps: 70 degrees.

Let’s see what happens!

Sun Chips Bag to Lose Its Crunch (article)

By SUZANNE VRANICA

Frito-Lay, the snack giant owned by PepsiCo Inc., says it is pulling most of the biodegradable packaging it uses for its Sun Chips snacks, following an outcry from consumers who complained the new bags were too noisy.

Touted by Frito-Lay as 100% compostable, the packaging, made from biodegradable plant material, began hitting store shelves in January. Sales of the multigrain snack have since tumbled.

PepsiCo has been working on trying to find a quieter version of the packaging since it first introduced the new bags.

Frito-Lay is returning to its old, nondegradable packaging, for five of the six Sun Chips flavors. It will continue to use the noisy packaging for its Sun Chips Original brand. It has been working on trying to find a quieter version of the packaging since it first introduced the new bags. A process that is continuing.

“We chose to respond to the consumer feedback but still want to show that we are committed” to compostable packaging, says Chris Kuechenmeister, a spokesman for Frito-Lay.

Consumers have posted videos on the Web poking fun at the new bags and lodged fierce complaints on social-networking sites. Since January, year-on-year sales of Sun Chips have decreased each month, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago market-research firm that tracks sales at retailers. SymphonyIRI data exclude Wal-Mart Stores Inc. PepsiCo doesn’t break out sales figures for Sun Chips.

The uproar about the new packaging was the subject of a Page One story in The Wall Street Journal in August.

This isn’t the first time PepsiCo has had an issue with its packaging. Last year, the company dumped new packaging for its Tropicana orange juice after consumers complained they didn’t like the new look.

Frito-Lay declined to disclose how much it spent to create the biodegradable packaging but it has been working on finding and testing degradable material for several years.

Just after I spend all that time to find one of these bags and put it to the test in my compost tumbler, they go ahead and pull it off the shelf.  Are people really upset with the bag being louder?  Let’s be honest, their drop in sales is because their chips taste like crap.  Who actually eats Sun Chips?

It’s really unfortunate that a company loses millions of dollars by trying to be innovative with their packaging.  They should try doing an advertisement where everyone in the commercial can’t hear each other because the bag is too loud, or have kids in a classroom make noise with the bag whenever the teacher tries to talk.

Well, let’s hope for a quieter future with compostable plastics for a louder composting revolution.

Oprah Loves Composting…

http://www.ecorazzi.com/2008/06/19/oprahs-earth-day-compost-bin-can-now-be-yours/

I realize I’m super late, I only just found this article.  Now I’m not an Oprah follower, but I understand why most people like her.  I’ve only seen parts of her show just a few times, and she’s very likable.  However, Oprah doesn’t seem likeable to composting.  Come on, Oprah…can you just fake it a little better so millions more people will really do it?  Man, I wish I had the influence that Oprah did.

I also highly recommend checking out the link to Daryl Hannah’s $900 worm bin.  She’s right, it is super sexy.

Looking for loads of green material to compost? Here’s a tip…

In the last week, my compost pile has been near dead as a doornail as I haven’t had much food scraps.  I’ve been lazy lately, eating a lot of takeout and going to restaurants instead of making my own food.  I think it’s the pre-winter blues already kicking in as I put my coat on today for the first time of the year (other than January 1st, nerd).

I was thinking about it a bit, as I went out partying all last night till the sun came up.  There happened to be a little snack bar at the venue, because we know that partying, dancing and eating health food go hand in hand.  They had two huge juicers, just churning out the waste that I so needed.  I asked the two ladies if they could contribute their food scraps from tonight to my compost… “Of course!” was the response.

So there you have it.  If you’re looking for food scraps to get your pile hot and bothered for the colder months, go to a juice bar and hit them up for their remnants.  You might even get a free juice out of it for putting their waste to good use, who knows?

The Genius of Jean Pain (article)

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1980-03-01/The-Genius-of-Jean-Pain.aspx

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: http://www.oasishairandskin.com/

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.

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