Composting ”is” Recycling

Driving through the neighborhood I’ve been noticing so many big green trash bags of “leaves”🍁🍂 curbside for trash pick up. I often wonder why leaves get bagged up.

Leaves can be “recycled” and mulched with a mower which in turn adds moisture back into the soil.

If you are “new to Florida” in general, your lawn or gardens will be glad to utilize dead leaves!! If you are patient, those leaves pretty much disintegrate sitting in our toasting sun, and disappear.The same principle goes for tree branches.

What is “compost”?

As a verb, “to compost” or “composting” refers to the process used to make compost. In general, this process involves mixing together a variety of food wastes, yard wastes, and/or other compounds in proportions that are favorable for the growth and reproduction of bacteria. 

Compost is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to decayed organic matter, which is a fancy term for formerly living things (plant and/or animal) that have been broken down by the feeding of bacteria and other tiny creatures into something that looks more or less like soil. This organic matter (see soil for a discussion of organic matter) is a useful addition to soil, and compost is sometimes talked about as though it were a fertilizer. 

While it does contain nutrients plants need, compost is really more of a soil amendment, whose primary benefit to the soil is an increase in organic matter content rather than a significant increase in the levels of particular nutrients. 

As discussed under soil, higher organic matter yields a number of benefits – higher water retention of the soil, improved retention and availability to plants of any fertilizer that you do apply, increased numbers of soil-dwelling organisms, etc., etc. 

Within the compost “pile” made of these materials, bacteria begin to feed and multiply. These bacteria occur naturally on the surfaces of many living things and do not need to be added to the pile to make composting happen.

The bacteria eat and eat and reproduce and reproduce until most of the readily available nutrients are used up. This process, which can take as little as a few weeks or as long as months (depending on how much or little you manage the pile) usually results in a substantial decrease in volume of the ingredients used to make the initial compost pile. Loss of 40-60% of the volume of your initial pile is not uncommon. If you manage the pile at all well, the material you end up with should look (as mentioned above) and smell more or less like soil.

Why compost? 

There are many reasons. At the most abstract level, composting takes non-toxic materials that would otherwise end up in landfills and returns them to the soil in a useful form. 

Food production should be a closed loop, meaning that food wastes (and perhaps human manure, as well) are returned to the soils used to produce the food to begin with. At present, most food production in the United States represents open loops – food comes from places, and food wastes end up in other places. 

Composting is a small step toward closing food loops. Of more relevance to individual gardeners, compost itself improves garden soils in various ways (as discussed above). Well-managed “hot” composting can kill weeds and any seeds they might be carrying, so it’s a safe way to return the weeds you kill to your garden.

Scientists have also recently begun to document a phenomenon noticed for some time by organic farmers, which is that application of compost to soils can actually help to prevent various plant diseases, particularly fungal ones. Why and how this works is still not very well understood.

For those who like physical work and are seeking “useful” excuses to be outside, building and managing a compost pile can also be just plain fun. 

Pseudo-composting

Some of us prefer “pseudo-composting,” which involves just heaping these materials up out of the way somewhere!

They will decay this way, but more slowly than if you compost them as described below. This form of composting does not necessarily kill weeds or weed seeds and the piles can in fact become homes for more weeds. 

Pseudocomposting with kitchen waste (eggshells, fruit peels, coffee grounds, etc.) can also attract raccoons, possums, and other undesirable pests. To help keep these pests away, you can cover your kitchen wastes with layers of newspaper, cardboard, or leaves.

To be continued….

Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies

  • Wildflower establishment requires some important steps:
  • Garden photo by Anna Sarich
    Seeding:  You will want to have good seed to soil contact, broadcasting by hand is a good approach on small plot, may want to mix with an inert carrier, sand or other. Raking in and covering with soil 2-3 times seed thickness.
    Watering: During establishment for the first month, can be from rain in spring or supplement with irrigation. 💦
    Timing: The best time to plant is in spring to early summer and even again in late fall.
    Pretty amazing assortment to get you started on your very own wildflower garden.
    If you plant it, they will come! 🐝🦋
    Click anywhere on the photos for more detail.
    Scatter and enjoy!!!

    Biblical Herbs: Mints in the Bible

    by Herb Exchange

    Plants are first mentioned in the Bible in the first chapter of the first book: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind…” (Genesis 1:11). Throughout the ages, the Hebrews have attributed holiness to many species of plants. The Scriptures associate feasts, rites and commandments with many plants and their cultivation. Early written information about herbs is found in the Bible back to the time of Moses or even earlier. In Exodus 12:22 Moses tells the children of Israel how to save their children by using the herb and lamb’s blood. “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.” In Numbers 19:6, 18 hyssop is again mentioned. Also, in 1 Kings 4:33 God gave Solomon wisdom, “And he (Solomon)spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall…” Psalms 51:7 refers to this plant: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” While pride is symbolized by the majestic cedar of Lebanon in Jewish tradition, the lowly hyssop represents modesty and humility. At least eighteen plants have been considered for the hyssop of the Bible, but modern botanists have generally agreed that Syrian majoram (Origanum syriacum) is the likely plant. It seems to fit well with these verses. It was used to cleanse homes defiled by leprosy or death and came to symbolize cleanliness. Its fragrance and taste led it to be prized by the ancient Romans and the Greeks before them. Bridges and grooms wore crowns made of marjoram. It was also quite likely prized in the kitchen, as it is now.

    Herbs of the Bible

    In the New Testament a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross (John 19:29). Hyssop-Oregano was often gathered in bunches and used as a brush or sprinkler for Jewish purification rituals.

    Hyssop, Bible Psalms 51:7

    Mint (Mentha longifolia) or horsemint is thought by many Jewish scholars to be the mint referenced by Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 in His discourse with the Pharisees. It along with anise or dill and cumin grow wild in parts of Palestine, mint being the most common. The Pharisee taxed himself lightly if he paid the tithe of mint, for it was too common and too easily cultivated to be of much worth, even though it was valuable as a medicinal herb. It was one of the plants subjected to the ban on sowing and gathering every seventh year. Jesus’ lesson on hyprocrisy is told by Matthew and again by Luke, and mint is the one herb mentioned by both. The Greek word Heduosmos, or mintha, means “having a sweet smell” and refers to “a sweet-smelling herb or mint.” The plant derives its name from Mintha, a Greek nymph who was transformed into the herb by Persephone after Persephone learned that her husband, Pluto had loved the nymph. Several varieties of mint grew in Israel, but horsemint is the most common and probably the one referred to by Matthew and Luke. Horsemint is still found today in the Holy Land and is cultivated at Aleppo in Syria. It is much larger than the other mints, reaching a height of three feet or more, with lilac flowers. It grows in moist, sunny places where it tends to run wild. It has been confused with Mentha spicata, or spearmint. The Hebrews used mint as a strewing herb at home and in the Temple, prizing its clean and aromatic scent. They served mint at the Spring Passover Feast of the Paschal Lamb, and today it is one of the “bitter herbs” of the paschal feast.

    Bible Herbs: Genesis 1:11

    In Israel the branched inflorescence of the Salvia dominica is one of the several salvias thought to have inspired the design of the menorah, seven-branched candelabra, or lampstand. Other scholars believe Judean sage (Salvia judaica) may have been in view. Judaica is from the Hebrew Yehudah, or Judah, the name given to the mountainous southern part of the land of Israel. The Bible describes God’s instructions to Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, one of Moses’ Israelites, to make an ark, altar and table of acacia wood: And he made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and its flowers were of the same piece…” (Exodus 37:17). Sage had already proven its value as both a flavoring and a medicine, so it is hardly surprising that it appeared in religious symbolism.

    (This article was submitted by Randy, and taken from Randy’s book  “Stop…and Smell The Mints”)  For more information go to https://outskirtspress.com/stopandsmellthemints