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Re: Composting idea - Soil Test First - Then Compost Volunteers Are Key

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Composting idea - Soil Test First - Then Compost Volunteers Are Key
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 10:31:02 -0500

Friend,
 
While I'm waiting for the next pile of documents to hit my desk and keep me going until its dark, I'll crank this out....
 
Soil Testing:
 
Before you start amending your soil, please do some soil testing so you know what you're going to be gardening in.  A basic soil test for nutrients and heavy metals (lead) is key. Talk to your local hort extension, or you can work with  the University of Massachussetts, Amherst  Soil Lab, which is the most affordable in the North East. 
 
Trust me - soil testing now, especially before you have the garden started, and before you let kids in to garden is essential - you don't want kids gardening in something that isn't healthy for them. 
 
On Composting:   
 
Volunteer Composter's Keep the Engine of the Garden going - think "Scotty," in Star Trek. 
 
It's the unglamorous, sometimes messy job of community gardening and usually falls to one dedicated volunteer, but really should have three "cooks," to keep the dead cats, garbage and thorns out of the pile. And to stir it, and to follow the process down to a granular "black gold." 
 
And all three (or more)  should understand the basics of greens, browns and reds - and keep the pile moving and steaming. It's your compost volunteers who go out in the winter ( along with the bird feeders and snow shovellers) to keep the heart of the garden going while the rest of us are reading plant catalogues, and sort of remembering to bring our veggie peelings to the pile. 
 
As I'm a pal of the local Central Park carriage stables ( conveniently located for generations in Hell's Kitchen) I man the wheelbarrows of horse manure that get added to the piles a few times a year. 
 
Scene: Adam fragrantly crossing Tenth Avenue with a wheelbarrow in late September - 
 
Neighborhood resident: "Man, that smells like...."
 
Adam: "It is. Got if from a local politician, want some? I got plenty, grows flowers. " 

More important than "horse," if you can get it, Signage is key.  
 
 
So people see the "Please, Please, Please No Kitty Litter, chop up your deposits, bag the stuff that won't fit in the bin for when we get to it," signs.
 
At the Clinton Community Garden we have a three bin system in back to process the leaves, cuttings and other greens and browns  from the garden and two - three plastic bins up front for neighborhood residents to deposit their juicing,veggie peelings and things from the veggie bin of the fridge that go "bump" in the night. 
 
Down and dirty, what you're going to have to find are two or three folks serious enough, persistent enough, and anal-compulsive enough to read the Rodale, Brooklyn Botanic Garden books and actually find the Compost Hot Line scintillating.
 
And persistent enough to make the other gardeners guilty about not helping out more with the "engine room," 
 
Composting is also like cooking and learning to balance the components is almost an art and an eduational journey of many miles. 
 
But before you start, make sure you have good socks, comfortable shoes, an a road map. The Rodale Composting Guide is really excellent.
 
Now if there were a way to compost vehicular recall documents. 
 
Regards, 
 
Adam Honigman
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: Grow19@aol.com
To: CarlHenn@comcast.net; community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 08:40:00 EST
Subject: Re: [cg] Composting idea


Composting is a great idea and this could raise the overall quality of  
gardening.  That said, some research should be done about types and volume  of 
materials to accept, the size of piles (and mix of materials) to be formed by  
gardeners, the system used to water and turn the piles, etc., any county  
regulations regarding size and placement of a large system.  
 
I'd say - really great idea; plan to do it, but wait until you've done some  
thorough research; sources of info - US National Arboretum (where they compost 
 yard waste); Institute for Local Self-Reliance (where they've been 
researching  and developing a yard waste composting system for the city of DC); 
the 
Intervale  in Burlington, Vermont; the national composting associations, etc.  
Partner  with University of Maryland to engage graduate students in doing 
research and  helping you with scale, materials, day to day management, etc.
 
In addition, you might want to devote some plot space to growing 'compost  
crops' that are mixed with leaves to get the right mix.
 
Good luck!
Judy Tiger


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The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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