Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Composting Vacation

Hey folks!

Guess what. I went on vacation this past week to one of my favorite places: Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One day Alison and I were at Herring Cove Beach basking in bikinis and playing toss with our highly entertaining "buzz bomb", which is a bit like a bright orange mini nerf football that has a blue stabilizing tail. It also makes this oddly delightful buzzing sound when spiraling through the air.

Anyway, while blissfully buzz bombing away we ran into Alison's old friend, the great organizer Michelle Crone, who's now taking care of the Provincetown Unitarian Universalist meeting house (which I accidentally refered to as a church in the movie below. Sorry UU's!). When I told Michelle what I do she brought up the sad state of their old pile out behind the UU. Like most places, the composting scene in Provincetown is pretty much nonexistent. Wouldn't I just love to spend a summer there setting up a beautiful composting program that would turn all the food scraps there into black gold! Anyway, through that conversation a composting project was born. Here's a little movie about how it went down...

Other highlights for me this week included getting to meet the consistently brilliant, charming, and hilarious Kate Clinton and her girlfriend Urvashi Vaid, who are, turns out, really darn nice. If you haven't seen Kate perform lately or picked up one of her books or cd's, then you must do so ASAP.

Have fun turning those piles!
-the compost maven


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another Triathlon, What's Compostable?, Birkenstock Compost Video Part 1

Hi folks,

Yesterday was my big triathlon for the year. It was an olympic distance triathlon: 0.9 mile swim, 28 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run. The bike is my strongest event by a long run, so to speak. I finished in 3 hours and 16 minutes--2 minutes faster this than last year. Next year I'm really psyched to start doing more technical training with a heart rate monitor, etc. Here's how it started...

Here I am pushing through the last mile of the run...

All in all it was a busy day because after the triathlon Alison and I picked wild blueberries, drove all over the back roads of Vermont, and then made this little video of me composting my old birkenstock sandals that were already starting to rot with mildew (because they were very old plus I left them out in the garage for a year!).

The "what's compostable" rule: If it was once alive it'll compost.

So why not leather, rubber, and cork sandals? Check it out...

And speaking of what's compostable, on a previous post I was asked by not drowning waving about large scale versus backyard composting. Here's what was asked:

"hey Holly
do you know much about City composting? Our council here in London (Camden) has just introduced organic waster pick up service - little bins and all.
But they say you can compost things that in my other life as a more rural composter I would never have put into my compost.. and it got me wondering how these things work and maybe you might know??
Perhaps the compost pile of a city is so huge and so hot that anything can be broken down??"

My short answer: you can compost anything in your backyard, including meat, bones, and dairy. The only requirements are that your pile be enclosed (to keep out the critters) and you manage it properly. Managing your compost pile means having the right recipe and turning it regularly. Also, you gotta make sure you have at least 2 bins available for composting. When one bin is full you can start a new batch while letting the 1st one turn into compost (without continually adding more food scraps). And it really doesn't take a huge pile to heat up. That's what I do in my backyard. Of course, I had to design my own bins, which work awesome and look lovely. (These will be for sale on the web in the very near future.) But if you just have an open pile that any dog or raccoon can get into then you might not want to put the meat and bones in. And it's a crying shame to throw these valuable resources away when they could be turned back into fertile soil. Large scale compost facilities are in the business of managing their piles properly. That's why they can take anything. But you can do it too! That's the beauty of it.

Thanks for your compost questions. It's just about my favorite topic.

-the compost maven