Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Compost - Hot and Cold Methods

Composting is a method of recycling naturally decomposing matter. Ingredients, size of the pile, local weather conditions, and your maintenance habits will affect the outcome. Note that shredded leaves, chipped wood, and chopped food scraps generally decompose more quickly than whole or large pieces.

Hot, or Active Composting

The quickest way to produce rich garden humus is to create a hot, or active, compost pile. It is called “hot” because it can reach an internal temperature of 160°F (140°F is best) and “active” because it destroys, essentially by cooking, weed seeds and disease-causing organisms. The size of the pile, the ingredients, and their arrangements in layers are key to reaching that desired outcome.

Size: A hot compost pile should be a 3-foot cube, at minimum; a 4-foot cube is preferred. The pile will shrink as the ingredients decompose.


  • One part high-carbon materials (shredded, dry plant matter such as leaves, twigs, woody stems, corn cobs)
  • One part high-nitrogen green plant matter (green plant and vegetable refuse, grass clippings, weeds, trimmings, kitchen scraps—but avoid meat, dairy, and fat) and good-quality soil

Pile the ingredients like a layer cake, with 2 to 4 carbon materials on the bottom (twigs and woody stems here will help air to circulate into the pile). Next, add a layer of soil. Add 2 to 4 inches of nitrogen-based materials, followed by soil. Repeat until the pile reaches 2 to 3 feet high.

Soak the pile at its start and water periodically; its consistency should be that of a damp sponge.

Add air to the interior of the pile by punching holes in its sides or by pushing 1- to 2-foot lengths of pipe into it.

Check the temperature of the pile with a compost thermometer or an old kitchen thermometer. A temperature of 110°F to 140°F is desirable. If you have no heat or insufficient heat, add nitrogen in the form of soft green ingredients or organic fertilizer.

If a foul odor emanates from the pile, flip the compost to introduce more air. And consider: Did you add meat or dairy products? Remove and discard them, if possible.

Once a week, or as soon as the center starts to cool down, turn the pile. Move materials from the center of the pile to the outside. (For usable compost in 1 to 3 months, turn it every other week; for finished compost within a month, turn it every couple of days.)

Cold, or Passive Composting

Cold, or passive, composting uses many of the same type of ingredients as hot composting and requires less effort from the gardener, yet the decomposition takes substantially longer—a year or more.

To cold compost, pile organic materials (leaves, grass clippings, soil, manures—but avoid dog, cat, and human waste) as you find or accumulate them. Bury kitchen scraps in the center of the pile to deter insects and animals. Avoid adding meat, dairy, and fat. Also avoid weeds; cold compost piles do not reach high temperatures and do not kill weed seeds. (In fact, weeds may germinate in a cold pile.)

Compostable Goods

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, any of these items may be added to a compost pile:

  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Dry goods (crackers, flour, spices)
  • Eggshells
  • Hair
  • Nutshells
  • Pasta (cooked or uncooked)
  • Seaweed
  • Shredded paper/newspaper
We just put our compost to bed. It's covered to save those nutrients for next year's gardens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Honor of Thanksgiving

Did you know?

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863. In that year, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. He asked citizens to “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise . . . .”

It was not until 1941 that Congress designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, thus creating a federal holiday.

Turkey became the traditional Thanksgiving fare because at one time it was a rare treat. During the 1830s, an 8- to 10-pound bird cost a day’s wages. Today, they still remain a celebratory symbol of bounty. In fact, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets for their first meal on the Moon.


Thanksgiving Storms
November 23 (1989)
Low pressure across the Carolinas brought record snow to the East on Thanksgiving Day.
November 25 (1983)
The Great Thanksgiving Blizzard hit Denver, Colo., with 21.5 inches of snow in 37 hours.
November 26 (1987)
On this Thanksgiving Day, snowfall totals in Maine ranged up to 20 inches at Flagstaff Lake. A second storm, over the southern and central Rockies, produced 13 inches at Divide, Colo.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Lydia Maria Child (180280)
(from “The New England Boy’s Thanksgiving Poem”)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day - November 11

Just wanted to share a beautiful song I rec'd from a Canadian friend for Remembrance Day.

Hi friends, I'm not usually a fan of large emails. However, Camilla and I have put our blood sweat & tears into this project. Music & Video ( we wrote the music) to "In Flanders Fields". We really wanted to breathe new life into the Remembrance Day message. The McCrae House here in town is on board, several schools are using it for assembly, and Rogers wants to air it. This is great but the rest of Canada needs it too. First just take a 3 minute look to remember our vets, after that if you know anyone/organization I should send it to please let me know, and I'm equally more than happy if you fwd, Facebook or do whatever to share it with more people - as a matter of fact I'll even just ask you to. I really believe in the message here. Enough said - pls enjoy the video. Your friends, Paul and Camilla Cook

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Indian Summer—November 11

St. Martin’s Day, November 11, is considered the beginning of Indian summer, a period of warm weather following a cold spell or hard frost.

Although there are differing dates for Indian summer, for more than 200 years The Old Farmer’s Almanac has adhered to the saying “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.” Indian summer can occur between St. Martin’s Day and November 20.

If we don’t have a spell of fine weather during that time, there’s no Indian summer. As for the origin of the term, some say that it comes from the early Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

Our predicted weather for the 11th is: (hope you will get something better than this!)

Max: 6°C
Min: -3°C

Monday, November 8, 2010

Birthdays and Their History

This blog entry is dedicated to those with birthdays this month.
A joyous Happy Birthday to some of those special people in my life who are celebrating their birthdays this month;
Mark, Karen, Heather, OO and, Elizabeth
And, I know better than to divulge ages!

The History:

History of Birthday observance can be traced back before the rise of Christianity. In pagan culture it was believed evil spirits visited people on their birthdays. To protect the person having birthday from the evil effect, people used to surround him and make merry. A lot of noise used to be created in such parties to scare away the evil spirits. In those times there was no tradition of bringing gifts and guests attending the birthday party would bring good wishes for the birthday person. However, if a guest did bring gifts it was considered to be a good sign for the person of honor. Later, flowers became quite popular as a Birthday gift.

The Cake:
Some of the popular Birthday traditions and symbols that we see today originated hundreds of years ago. Some believe the tradition of birthday cake was started by early Greeks who used to take round or moon shaped cake to temple of Artemis - the Goddess of Moon. Others believe the custom of Birthday cake initiated in Germany where people used to make bread in the shape of baby Jesus’ swaddling cloth.

The Candles:
The popular custom of lighting candles on the cake is said to have originated because Greeks used to light candles on the cake taken to Artemis to make it glow like a moon. Some though believe that custom originated because of a religious belief that gods lived in the sky and lighted candles helped to send a signal or prayers to the god. Germans are said to have placed a big candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize ‘the light of life’. Even today people make silent wishes as they blow out candles. It is believed that blowing out all candles in one breath brings good luck.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

November - this, that and, the other thing

November 4—Will Rogers Day
This holiday is celebrated in Oklahoma to honor the trick-roping cowboy and all-around entertainer, who was born in that state in 1879.

"I don't make jokes. I just watch government and report the facts.”.–Will Rogers (18791935)

November 6—Sadie Hawkins Day
Not a typical holiday, this holiday is the invention of Al Capp, creator of the Li'l Abner comic strip. On this day, unmarried ladies could pursue (literally) their men; if caught, marriage was unavoidable. The idea took off in real-life. In 1938, the first recorded "girls-ask-boys" Sadie Hawkins dance was held.

November 7—Daylight Saving Time Ends at 2:00 A.M.
In 2010, Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7, at 2:00 A.M. Remember to “fall back” by setting your clocks back 1 hour. Did you know? Benjamin Franklin suggested the idea of a time change in 1784. Daylight Saving Time was first observed in the United States during World War I and then again during World War II.

Weather Folklore

If the first snow sticks to the trees, it foretells a bountiful harvest.

If sheep feed facing downhill, watch for a snowstorm.

Thunder in November indicates a fertile year to come.

If there be ice in November that will bear a duck, there will be nothing thereafter but sleet and muck.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Boy oh boy, is it ever cold out. And, this is just the beginning of our winter. Some folks tough would tell you it's hardly started. It is only early November. Phooey on them! It's cold and I am here to tell you so.

I woke up this morning to a temperature of - 6 C. The weather site I use called it "uncomfortably cold". No kidding! The ground is all white. Not from snow but, from frost. It freezes the bird seed to the feeders making it hard for my feathered friends to eat. And, when I walk on the grass I can hear it breaking. Breaking grass? It's an odd sound but, once heard you will remember it.

It's already snowed. But, just a tiny bit, barely covered the ground for more than an hour. My friend, twice has gotten well over an inch or, so. But, then again she lives an hour away and is in a higher elevation than I am.

Yesterday DH and I pulled the snow blower out. Wanted to give it the once over and make sure all was ready for our first big snowfall before it caught us unaware. It's been sitting patiently awaiting us all summer long in the back of the garage. We couldn't get it started the first time with the pull cord. We had to resort to starting it electrically. Which it did beautifully. Then there after the first time, it started every time with the pull cord.

The pellet stove we had installed this summer seems to be doing a good job keeping the house warm. The money we have spent on the stove and the pellets for this entire winter season... get this... have cost us less than what we paid last year in oil costs for the furnace.

Hoping for a mild winter and an early warm spring.

Little old me...

My photo
An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.


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