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Try Grasscycling or Composting

What is Grasscycling?
Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving the clippings on the lawn when mowing. Grass clippings decompose quickly and release valuable nutrients back into your lawn. It’s simple, and it works! Grass clippings make up a big part of California’s waste during the growing season. To keep these out of the waste stream, try grasscycling!
Grasscycling provides free fertilizer and helps make lawns greener and healthier. Grasscycling reduces turf grass fertilizer and water requirements, which can reduce the toxic runoff that enters storm drains and pollutes creeks and rivers. Grasscycling reduces mowing time too since it eliminates the need to bag and dispose of clippings.
Grasscycling also reduces the amount of yard waste disposed in landfills. Lawns can generate 300 pounds of grass clippings per 1000 square feet annually. For more information on grasscycling from the California Integrated Waste Management Board, visit www.ciwmb.ca.gov.

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Backyard Composting
Backyard composting is nature’s way of recycling. Composting is fun, easy and educational. Decomposed organic material such as leaves, grass clippings, twigs, fruit and vegetables make a great soil conditioner. Compost made from leaves and yard trimmings is great for your landscaping. To learn more about composting, visit www.ciwmb.ca.gov. or the “Master Gardener’s of Fresno County” website.

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Key Ingredients for Great Compost

Key Ingredients for Great Compost

One of the great aspects of composting is that the key ingredients are often things that you’d be tempted to throw away. So, with just a little effort, you can contribute less to the trash stream (good for the environment) and make great compost (good for your garden).

Compost is created when you provide the right mixture of key ingredients for the millions of microorganisms that do the dirty work. These microorganisms will eat, multiply, and convert raw materials to compost as long as the environment is right. The environment doesn’t have to be absolutely “perfect,” so you don’t need to be a microbiologist or chemist to have successful compost. You need to provide: food, water, and air.

The water and air are easy. The food is a little more complex. Food for your little micro friends consists of two classes of materials, simply referred to as “Greens” and “Browns.” Green materials are high in nitrogen, while brown materials are high in carbon. The green materials provide protein for the micro bugs, while the brown materials provide energy.

Typical green materials are:
  • Fresh (green) Grass clippings
  • Fresh manure (horse, chicken, rabbit, cow)
  • Kitchen scraps (fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags)
  • Weeds
  • Green leaves
  • Leftover fruits from the garden
Typical brown materials include:
  • Brown, dry leaves
  • Dried grass
  • Cornstalks (shredded)
  • Straw
  • Sawdust (in moderation; see below)

 

Just like us, the little microorganisms need a balanced diet, along with water and air. Too much, or too little of any ingredient significantly reduces their productivity. It is hard to have too much of the brown category. As noted earlier, leaves in the forest decompose without significant quantities of “green” components (although animal droppings do contribute to the green part of the mix) – but, the decomposition takes a little longer.

Too much green is usually the problem. A pile of kitchen garbage will never become useful compost; it simply becomes a smelly pile of garbage. Landfills are not composting sites. Most municipal composting operations begin with the huge quantities of dry leaves that are collected each fall.

A good mix of browns and greens also helps the pile maintain the right amount of moisture and air. A pile that is 100% grass clippings, for example, will quickly become a matted, soggy mess, with too much moisture and too little air. It will decompose, quickly at first, but then stall. Mix in some dry leaves, and you’ll have a significantly more efficient mixture. The dry leave help maintain air pockets within the pile and also provide a more balanced diet for the bacteria and fungi that cause the decomposition.

For more information about composting or to learn more about our Trash Knight garbage system, please visit www.trashknight.com.

When and How to Use Compost

Tips for when, where & how to use compost:

Soil Building – Compost is the single best additive for good, even great, garden soil. It improves tilth, fertility, water retention for sandy soils, water drainage for clay soils, and improves your soil’s disease fighting characteristics. Add compost in spring and fall, and till it in.

Garden Fertilizer – Compost can be used throughout the season as a garden fertilizer. Simply side dress vegetables and flowers for a slow-release food source and improved disease prevention.

Lawn Feeding – Screened compost (compost that has been sifted to collect the smaller particles) can be applied as a lawn fertilizer throughout the season. It will provide a wonderful slow-release food as well as assist in lawn disease prevention. And, given that the nutrients aren’t as concentrated as in chemical lawn foods, you’ll avoid the stripes that can easily occur when incorrectly applying chemicals. You’ll avoid chemical run-off, and you’ll save money. Your lawn will be alive, with earthworms (natures aerators) and beneficial microbes.

Compost vs. Mulch – Mulch is any material that is applied to the garden’s surface to prevent weed germination and to reduce water evaporation. Compost will help build the soil, and it will help retain moisture; but, it won’t do a lot to prevent weeds. It’s an ideal growing medium; so, weeds are likely to be very comfortable in it. Use shredded leaves for mulch, or a combination of shredded leaves and lawn clippings. The combination of lawn clipping and shredded leaves creates an attractive mulch that won’t blow away (as leaves alone tend to do) and allows water penetration (as grass clippings alone tend to matt and repel water).

Potting Mix (seed starting, potted plants) – Compost can be used to create a very good seed starting mix, or it can be added to potting soil to create a nutrient-rich mixture. Most commercial potting mix is made from Canadian peat moss, which is virtually void of nutrients, so the addition of good compost provides a real boost. “hot” compost, which has been produced at higher temperatures, is less likely to contain a lot of weed seeds. However, some of the fungi in compost may contribute to “damping off” of seedlings when compost is used for seed starting. To be safe, you should consider “sterilizing” the compost before using it as a potting mix. You can sterilize compost by microwaving it, baking it in an oven, or pouring boiling water over it. Of the three methods, the boiling water treatment is the neatest and cleanest. Simply put the compost in a large flower pot and soak it with boiling water from a teapot or saucepan.

For more information about composting or to learn more about our Trash Knight garbage system, please visit www.trashknight.com.

Celebrate Earth Month!

A month of Earth Day inspired posts…visit http://act.earthday.org to make your pledge!

Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  Visit  http://act.earthday.org/ to contribute your pledge to A Billion Acts of Green.

Ideas

Happy Earth Day!

    1. Plant a tree in your back yard: Besides being a fun activity for your family, planting trees help to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and they provide a habitat for a variety of other plants and animals. Go to your local nursery, and pick out the perfect tree for your yard. Lifetime trailers make it easy to haul the tree home. More trees in your yard can actually lower your cooling bill by providing shade over your house.
    2. Make pine cone birdfeeders- Bring birds right to your yard and watch them as they enjoy a healthy snack. Making pine cone bird feeders is a fun and easy activity for children, click here for instructions.
    3. Visit a nearby recycling facility- Recycling processes are fascinating and fun to watch. If you save up recyclable materials to drop off during the visit, you’ll earn some extra change you can use to pick up ice cream cones afterward.
    4. Sit with the family and set specific goals to recycle and save energy- It’s often as easy as changing your light bulbs, adjusting the setting on your fridge, or making a routine trip to a nearby recycling bin.
    5. Plant or renew your vegetable garden– April is the perfect time to plan your garden. Section off an area of your yard or use a Lifetime Raised Garden Bed Kit, and decide what you’d like to grow this year. If you don’t have a yard, window boxes and large pots work just as well. Home grown vegetables are pesticide-free and help you save money. You can also nourish them with recycled kitchen scraps and grass clippings, using a Lifetime Composter. Let the children choose new types of fruits or vegetables to try out each year, and give them responsibilities in the garden.

Planting Flowers

  1. Plant flowers at a local non-profit organization or church- Contact the organization prior to planting. Most are thrilled when someone offers to beautify their grounds.
  2. Go on a nature hike- Nature hikes are a great way to appreciate the details of our beautiful earth. Pick a park or nearby trail, or visit a new place every year on Earth Day.
  3. Clean up litter at a local park- Parks provide places for everyone in the community to enjoy nature. Unfortunately, litter detracts from their beauty, and can be dangerous to people and animals. Bring some large bags or a Lifetime Yard Cart and gather up trash to revive your park. Use sticks to pick up the litter you don’t want to touch.
  4. Attend an Earth Day event- Earth Day events are held across the nation, and are full of fun activities for both you and the kids. Pick a place close to you, events can be seen at http://www.earthday.net.
  5. Cook a special Earth Day meal using all non-processed foods- Invite the friends and family over to share a healthy, home-cooked meal. If you have many guests, set up extra tables and chairs to accommodate them. Get creative and decorate in an ‘earth day’ theme using leaves or potted plants, and let each guest take a plant home to add to their garden. See table decorating tips at “Eco-Friendly Dinner Party”.
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