Category Archives: Recycling

Composting Made Simple

It’s no secret that compost is highly revered among gardeners. We know some who have requested a truckload as a Birthday present!  Love for compost is understandable since the benefits of this nutrient-rich substance include improved soil quality,  reduced need for watering, and healthy plant growth. But the benefits extend beyond being an invaluable resource for gardeners; composting is one of the simplest things we can do to make a positive impact on the environment. According to the EPA, Americans discard about 73 billion pounds of food each year. All of that unnecessary waste takes up a lot of room in our already crowded landfills, in turn, creating a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. With that in mind, it makes sense that more of us should be in the routine of composting, whether we maintain a garden or not.

Oftentimes, people don’t take up composting because they believe it is too complicated, while others may have the impression that it’s too messy or smelly. There is, of course, something else that may prevent someone from taking the plunge into the composting world: limited space. Lack of space is an issue that many of us in the Boston area know quite well. While it’s true that larger kitchens and yards can be helpful for creating compost areas, deciding to compost need not be a big endeavor. There are several easily manageable ways to begin the practice of composting, regardless of space constraints.

One popular method of composting is known as “stealth composting” and this is ideal for those with limited space as it allows for composting on a smaller scale. Stealth composters can be kept indoors or out and it’s not difficult to make your own, which means the size can be customized to suit your needs. With this process, it’s not uncommon to designate a countertop or the space under your kitchen sink as your compost area. If this appeals to you, here’s a great tutorial to get you started.

 

 

Vermicomposting (or “worm composting”) is another popular option for indoor composting. This option is particularly suitable for basements, and as an added bonus, children are likely to want to be involved with this system. Vermicomposting is unique in that is specifically relies on using worms to assist in the decomposition process. As with stealth composting, setting up your own vermicompost bin is not complicated, nor is it difficult to maintain. Here are some good guidelines should you decide to take up vermicomposting.

If you are fortunate enough to have enough space to compost on a larger scale, there are endless choices when it comes to creating an outdoor compost area. Compost bins can be made from wood pallets, trash bins, large storage containers, wire fencing, and pretty much anything imaginable.  However, living in an urban area can make for unique challenges when it comes to composting. You will definitely want to take measures to ensure your compost does not attract rodents and other critters, and it’s also important to keep your neighbors in mind when you consider the location of your bin. Purchasing a compost bin is not a requirement, but manufactured bins may be the best way to ensure your food waste is securely covered. (If you are a Boston resident you can purchase  your bins at a reduced rate from Boston Building Resources.)

 

Those of us in Boston are lucky to have a few more options to make composting as simple in possible. Recently, the city began a pilot program called “Project Oscar,” which allows residents to drop off their food waste for composting at designated areas through the city. (Read this to learn more about Project Oscar.) An even easier option is to sign up for service with Bootstrap Compost. For a fee, Bootstrap Compost provides members with buckets in which to store food scraps, then it is collected weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your needs. In return, you are given five pounds of compost a few times a year (or you can choose to donate it). 

Perhaps you like the idea of composting but you just aren’t sure what to do with the stuff once you’ve got it. This is where we can help! Our experts at Christie Dustman and Company can work with you to show you how to use compost to get the most from your plants and garden. If you don’t personally have a use for it, check with the gardeners in your life as they will probably happily take it. You can also contact your nearest community garden and see if they accept donations.

With so many composting techniques available, there really is no excuse not to do it.  Find the method that suits your needs best and you’ll be in the habit of helping your garden and our planet in no time.

 

Flea Market Finds … One person’s junk is another person’s garden treasure!

2015-7-16 Blue Torpedo croppedContributed by Brian McGinn

One Sunday every spring and one every fall brings a large outdoor Antique Flea Market to my local fairground. It boasts a very diverse group of vendors with a very diverse collection of antiques but more realistically they are selling junk. I am defining junk as:

Something you do not need. Something covered in rust. Something missing pieces or just pieces of something. Something broken/no longer in working condition. Something of no practical use.

See the picture of a seven foot tall blue WWII torpedo? By definition it is the epitome of junk…but to me it is beautiful and curious and sculptural. It is elegant and odd.

2015-7-16 Flea Market Finds moxie smallerWhen it comes to decorating the garden, the question of “usefulness” is the loophole. Does something have to be useful to have aesthetic value? Can the history, wear and patina of an object add interest without function? For me the answer is a celebratory yes! In the way that stone and plants add texture and depth to the garden, collected objects can do the same. The layers in the garden are what give the garden uniqueness and story. What is that? Why is it placed there? What does it mean? To me these are great questions to hear. It says that you have struck a chord, piqued interest and generated thinking. It also gives new life to a castoff. It brings a bit of humor or drama to the space. In some cases it can also bring the spirit of the object’s previous owner into your garden.

Building a garden is about discovery. Making connections to the past and re-use are great creative ways to express you!

P.S. The torpedo was being sold for $400…sadly I had to leave it behind…but it would have looked great with the Blue Spruce in my garden…

Relics in the Landscape: Blending the Present with the Past by Julie Campbell, Design Associate

Perhaps it’s because I studied at RISD where things tended to be unconventionally creative, or perhaps it’s because I gravitate towards all things nostalgic, but when someone (such as a designer, homeowner, architect or city planner) successfully blends the past with the present and pays homage to what came before in a beautiful and thoughtful way, I get very excited. (Yes folks, after seven blog entries, we’ve all come to the realization that I’m a little quirky when it comes to appreciating elements in the landscape!)

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