April 2011 Sage & Snow Garden Club Newsletter
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
April 5, 2011
Dear Flora: What are the benefits of composting?
Dear FMN: Composting allows you to recycle home and yard waste! Instead of your home and yard wastes going to the landfill, they can be composted and further made use of by helping improve your landscape or houseplantsí environment. When compost is added to your garden it provides organic matter that will greatly benefit your Sublette County soil texture and structure, reduce fertilizer requirements, and increase the water holding capacity of your soil.
Dear Flora: Arenít compost piles smelly?!?
Signed: Pew Eee
Dear PE: No, compost piles should not stink. If there is a strong ammonia smell, there is too much "green" material in the pile and you need to add more "brown" material. You can also add some good garden soil to the pile to control the odor. Good garden soil contains a tremendous number of microorganisms that will aide in the digestion of compost materials.
Dear Flora: What is the difference in "greens" and "browns" when referring to composting?
Signed: Color Challenged
Dear CC: Browns are dry and hard and provide carbon, which fuels your pile, such as dried leaves, twigs, pine needles, dead plants, wood and bark chips, straw, sawdust from untreated wood, hay, shredded stalks, corn cobs. A caution about shredded black and white newspaper: In the past, color printing used heavy metals in the ink. Most color printing now uses soy-based inks, but it's better to avoid them in the garden altogether to be on the safe side. Greens are wet and soft and create nitrogen, the fire in the pile. Vegetable scraps, grass clippings, plant trimmings, high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as cottonseed meal), feathers, fur, hair, fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, rotted pig or chicken or rabbit or sheep or horse or cow manure, blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, hoof meal, horn meal, alfalfa meals, seaweed, rotted manure, alfalfa meal, old bread are greens. There should be an approximate ratio of 3 browns to 1 green in your compost pile.
Dear Flora: Do I need a special compost box or container in order to be successful?
Dear PIO: No, but it might be useful. Structures can make composting more aesthetically pleasing, keep direct sunlight off of your compost materials, help keep wind from over drying the pile or blowing away your materials, and keep scavengers and wandering pets out of your pile. Structures can be made of old pallets, straw bales, wood, wire, plastic, or concrete blocks. It is important to keep in mind that turning the materials in a compost pile can speed up the production of the finished product and avoid anaerobic conditions and you want to be able to easily remove your black gold compost, so designing an easily accessed container is important.
Dear Flora: I have heard that everything natural can be added to my compost pile. Is that true?
Signed: Herb E. Cide
Dear HEC: Yes, most natural things can be added directly into your compost pile. Some things like coffee grounds, egg shells, shredded paper, garden wastes, and most food wastes are recommended. Grass clippings from your yard can also be added as long as they have not recently been treated with a pesticide. The trick is to keep a good ratio of green to brown materials in your pile.
Dear Flora: What specific materials should not be added to my compost pile?
Signed: Bee Cautious
Dear BC: You should not compost your dog and cat wastes, meat scraps, dairy items, bones, polyester, plastics, or synthetics of any kind. Weeds or weed seeds should not be added to your compost pile either, as they could cause a flush of weeds around the pile. If you get manure, grass clippings, or other materials from friends or neighbors, make sure that they were not treated with toxic materials and that they do not have a weed infestation. This is the best way to ensure that your compost pile stays healthy!
Dear Flora: May I add compost materials directly to my garden soils instead of combining them in a compost pile?
Signed: Direct Dora
Dear DD: Yes, but when you combine the compost materials in a pile instead of adding them directly to your garden soils, it accelerates the process of breaking down the components into a productive and available soil amendment. Some people dig a row in their garden, add compostable material as they have it, and cover it when it is full. This method of composting works, but takes longer.
Dear Flora: How do I get involved with other gardening fanatics?
Signed: Seeking Gardening Friends
Dear SGF: Come to our third-Tuesday monthly gardener gathering for tips from Flora and other local gardeners! The next Sage and Snow Garden Club get-together will be Tuesday, April 19th at the Sublette County Weed and Pest Office located at 12 South Bench Road, Pinedale (307-367-4728). Social time starts at 4:30 P.M., followed by a short business session at 5:00 P.M. Please send any questions for Flora to P.O. Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to our website at https://sites.google.com/site/sageandsnowgardenclub/.