Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mesophilic vs. Thermophilic Composting

This spring I had the pleasure of attending several Nance Klehm workshops hosted by The Ranch at The Huntington Library and Gardens. The first series was on two different methods of composting and the second series was on bioremediation. I'll try my best at covering some of the basics she went over when discussing and involving us in creating mesophilic and thermophilic compost piles. 

Fellow class member checking the temp a week after.  
The mesophilic compost approach, pictured left, is basically a low-maintenance in-ground composting method. We used this approach in our garden and its worked out the best for us, just need to make some minor adjustments by digging a little deeper and wider. You can always tend to it more to get it hotter sooner, but the idea is for it to also be low-maintenance. This in-ground pile's temperature will range from 68-113 F. 

Now for thermophilic compost building with Nance Klehm. We started by layering carbon and nitrogen in an eye-pleasing circular design, see below. Like a compost cake! This is a more common composting method. 

Layering carbon (browns) and nitrogen (greens) and watering whilst doing so.

One week in. 
The thermophilic compost cake we created the previous week, see left, was at about 120 F degrees and sections went anaerobic due to too much greens in ratio to carbon, will be aided by adding in more carbon. The mesophilic compost pile (in ground) we created smelled better, see second photo above. I think mesophilic was around 110-113 F degrees outside to center. 

How hot is too hot before you should start worrying about sterile compost? Nance says around 145 F.

Ask any and all composting questions below and I'll try my best at answering.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Events for you

Hey there plant friends, and DIYers! June is offering some pretty stellar workshops and classes, check out a few below. 

June 22nd

Join experienced herbalist William Broen for a Garden walk and presentation featuring medicinal and edible plants native to California. Please bring a hat/sunscreen, water, and a sack lunch or snack. Limited to 20 participants. $20 for RSABG members; $25 for the general public.

June 26th

Just got my copy today!
Christopher Nyerges, author of “Guide to Wild Foods,” will share the becoming of his latest published book, “Foraging California,” which is part of a nationwide series of foraging books. This book features edible California natives and non-natives growing in the wild from the ocean to the mountains to the desert and even your own backyard. Christopher will talk about the plants featured in the book, and explain how to use this book. FREE!

June 28th

From Colonial America to modern-day mixology, shrubs or drinking vinegars have been a refreshing way to preserve and enjoy seasonal fruits. Learn how to make these tart and sweet syrups using different vinegars, fruits, herbs, and spices. And, of course, we'll also cover how to use shrubs in cocktails and sodas!  

June 29th
Wildcrafting alder -- a field trip class with Rebecca Altman of Kings Road apothecary

In this field trip class participants will get to learn the following:
- Wildcrafting (how-to and ethics)
- Connecting through place (plant walk)
- Connecting to wild plants
- Alder
- The lymphatic system

Class size limit: 15 (this one will go fast)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Today is International Day of Biological Diversity!

To celebrate International Day of Biological Diversity Slow Food International released this video about the Slow Food Ark of Taste - "an online catalogue collecting endangered food flavors, knowledge and traditions from around the world". Learn how big agriculture is changing our nation's diets and how you can help save precious varieties. I could totally picture students utilizing the online catalogue as a service learning project in several ways. Don't let the recipes and flavors of our ancestors be lost forever! Support this great effort by researching varieties important to you, visiting your local farmers market, grow and/or support local heirloom growers and by simply sharing the message. Learn more on how you can contribute to this important mission by clicking, here