Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Yard Clean Up is the Time to Create Your Yard Waste Compost Pile

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Can You See My Yard Waste Pile?

Last weekend I started in with a little bit of Spring clean up. A little weeding here, some mulching there and a bit of trimming. I ended up with a wheelbarrow full of weeds and bush trimmings. This was the perfect time to start my yard waste compost pile.

A while back I set it up, in anticipation of this day. I guess it doesn't take much to get me excited. Oh well. I needed a somewhat secluded site so that it wouldn't be visible from the street, or to any of my neighbors. A quick walk around my yard and I found the perfect place, between some large bushes and a tropical palm, that is quite overflowing. Located between a couple of trees, it is in partial shade, also. All of this provides great camouflage. Although the palm will need a bit of trimming, it is still large enough to keep my science project tucked away from view fairly well. Check out the photo above. What do you think?

My test came when my husband helped me dump the wheelbarrow over the top of the garden fencing I erected to contain the pile. I figured if he saw it and didn't complain, I was good to go. He's fussy about how things look outside. Sure enough, he didn't say a word. I guess that was my approval.

Since all of the material that went into the bottom of the pile is green, live weeds and bush trimmings, I knew I needed to add some brown, to give it balance. We had 7 nights of freezing temperatures this Winter (that's almost unheard of in Central Florida), so I knew I could easily find some dead potted plants on my porch and in my potted garden in the back. I was right. I located a half dozen crispy, dried out and dead potted plants. As I pulled the dead plants from their pots, I shook off some of the soil so as not to put too much weight into the compost pile. Then I dumped the remainder right into the pile, on top of the green matter, which hopefully will provide a balance. Needed moisture will come naturally with rain, so my new pile is off and running.

Lazy, as always, I did not stir the contents, but then I'm in no hurry. I suppose my wish list should have a pitchfork on it, just for this purpose, but I have to ask myself, "Would I use it?"

My biggest reason for composting is still that I don't want to use any more environmentally-UNfriendly plastic bags to send stuff to yard waste heaven or the landfill. And even if I used trash containers that would be left behind, there is still that concern that my yard waste will not be composted, but simply rot in a pit and never be used to add nutrients and moisture-holding capability to our sandy soil, here if Florida. That makes it a double waste in my analysis.

Besides that, I really can't get behind paying for all the gas and the trucks to haul off our yard waste, when we can simply turn it into compost in our back yards. I totally understand that we do need some help with tree limbs, fallen trees, and other such larger objects that cannot easily be placed into a compost pile. But, think about it; we could save a lot on trucks and gas if they only picked up the stuff that can't be composted in our yards. I wish someone would get that message across to the budget bureaucrats, who have been busy trying to figure out what costs we can cut. Do we really need this service?

Okay. I understand that some types of housing may not have an appropriate place for composting. But it seems to me that a simple, attractive, non-biodegradable, solid fence would aesthetically contain a compost pile just about anywhere. I'm talking about a plastic 3 ft. X 3 ft. contraption. Who can't find a spot like this on the side or back of their house. My first two compost bins are behind bushes--perfect.

One of my favorite sites for information on Earth friendly practices is Planet Natural. This site is a wealth of information on organic lawn care, composting, natural pest control, natural cleaning products and even natural pet care. If you'd like to read the article on Composting Yard Waste, just click this link. Their detail in this article is way over my labor time or willingness, but here I'll share a few tips:

  • If you have a wood chipper or shredder, you can put sticks and such through it before placing them in your pile.
  • Avoid waste from highly resinous trimmings, such as juniper, pine, spruce and arborvitae.
  • Don't include waste that has been treated with weed killers.
  • If you aren't planning to compost any kitchen wastes, you can still add occasional coffee grounds, when the pile becomes too dry.
  • Add a little water occasionally to keep it slightly moist.
  • If you'd like to have compost in a couple of months, I highly suggest you read the article at the link above. They can tell you all the ins and outs to make it happen quickly.

Tomorrow I'll be back with a few tips on influencing your school age children to live greener. Woofing Wednesday's post will provide a new way to recycle unusable clothing for your dog. Did that peak your interest? No, we won't be remaking our old sweaters into ones for Fido. I hope you'll stop in to see what I'm up to.

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