Posts Tagged ‘gardening’


Join the Solana Center for a great course on how to start and sustain a school garden. As with any garden, composting plays an important role and will also be discussed in this course along with several other issues that are critical to school garden success. One of the class days will focus on a hands-on garden build, from the dirt up! Please contact Elizabeth for more information at (760) 436-7986 ext. 218 or elizabeth@solanacenter.org.


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Static composting can take as long as a year to complete. Since you’re routinely adding new material to the top of your pile and you’re not really mixing the entire pile, then you may have compost ready to use near the bottom of your pile. If you have the space or the means, access the oldest, lower layers of your compost. The compost is ready when it is dark brown, has a crumbly texture, and smells earthy. The materials you added to the pile should no longer be recognizable. A good and easy way to test if you’re compost is mature is by doing a bag test. Simply fill a baggie with compost and seal the baggie. Leave it alone for a week or so. To re-check your compost, open the baggie and smell. If it still smells earthy, your compost is ready. However if you smell ammonia or any off odors, then the microorganisms are still busy eating and you’ll need to wait longer for your compost to mature.

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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
10 – 12 noon
Crestridge Ecological Reserve
1171 Horsemill Road
El Cajon (Crest), CA 92019

Learn the basics of backyard composting and vermicomposting including bin set up, maintenance, harvesting, and more! The workshop will be held at Crestridge Ecological Reserve during the Earth Discovery Institute Native Plant Sale. There will be a limited number of compost bins available.

Please register online at www.solanacenter.org or by phone 760-436-7986 ext. 222. Workshop is provided by the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and the County of San Diego.

Register today!

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Aerators increase the air flow in your bin without the physicality of turning the bin with a pitchfork.

Too lazy to turn your compost bin? Is your bin not easily turned? Does your compost bin smell yucky? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a compost aerator could be the right tool for you!

Aeration (or the addition of air) is a very important ingredient in your compost pile. The microbes breaking down all the material in your compost pile need air to survive. These microbes are constantly using up the available air so by turning or aerating your bin, you are ensuring they will continue to thrive. When there is not enough air in your compost pile, decomposition turns anaerobic. In anaerobic decomposition, a different variety of microbe is breaking down material without air. The digesting microbe lets off sulfur which means the compost pile can start to smell!

This aerator is rotated into the compost and then pulled straight out.

Aerators come in two main styles. They either have wings or they look like a corkscrew. In the picture on the left, the green aerator is rotated into the compost pile to the desired depth. It is then pulled straight back out. The aerator below is pushed straight down. As it is lifted, the “wings” at the end of the aerator spread out, moving material and allowing for air flow.

The "wings" on this aerator spread out as it is pulled upward.

This aeration method of pushing or rotating the aerator into the compost pile and then pulling it back out is less time consuming and requires less physical exertion than turning a compost pile with a pitchfork. Aerators do increase air flow in the pile but not to the extent that turning the entirety of the pile would. If you want to get compost quickly, turning the whole pile is the most successful method. If you do not want to spend the time, are looking for something less physical, or do not have compost bin that is easily turned, an aerator is a great alternative to increase air flow in your compost pile.

The Solana Center now has aerators for sale! The aerator we are selling is the green corkscrew model in the top and middle picture. They are on sale Tuesdays and Thursdays here at the Solana Center for only $20!

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The New Roots Community Farm in City Heights was featured in a great article in the LA Times this morning, heralding its efforts to provide refugees and low income families access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Please click here to view the article. Also, the New Roots Community Farm just so happens to be the location of a FREE upcoming composting workshop!

Free New Roots Community Farm Composting Workshop

Saturday, February 20th, 2010


54th at Chollas Parkway in City Heights

To pre-register, please click here.

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Saturday, January 9th, 2010
San Diego Zoo Otto Entrance
(one block south of main entrance)

Learn how to create rich garden soil, save water, and reduce trash at the landfill by recycling your kitchen scraps and garden debris at this FREE workshop.

Workshop is taught by trained Master Composters from the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and cover how and what to compost using both a vermicomposting (worm) bin and a backyard composting bin.

Pre registration required. Please register online at www.solanacenter.org or by phone 760-436-7986 ext. 222. Limit 25 participants.

Click here to pre-register now!

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An inexpensive paper shredder is a great tool for shredding paper for your compost bin.

Paper provides a carbon source for your compost bin. Many kinds of paper can be added to your compost bin, even those with colored ink. The secret to using paper successfully is to shred or chop it and then moisten it before adding it to your bin. It is also helpful to alternate layers of paper with materials that provide more aeration (chopped branches, etc.) to avoid matting. For worm bins, a moist layer of paper on the top of castings and food can help keep away flies and also provide a carbon source for your worms.

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