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Will Pedal for Compost

air date: July 3, 2014

Meet food plants new on our horizon, like Yacón, Gynura and Oca with Jay Beard, organic grower at Lone Star Nursery. On tour, the East Side Compost Pedallers spare the landfill by cycling to pick up neighborhood compostables to nourish soil at local farms and community gardens. Daphne explains how to pep up your own compost pile. Her Plant of the Week is native perennial giant coneflower, Rudbeckia maxima, that attracts native bees to its flowers. Merrideth Jiles demonstrates how to stain and protect concrete sculptures to personalize your garden art.

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Episode Segments

On Tour

Will Pedal for Compost | East Side Compost Pedallers

On cargo bikes, the East Side Compost Pedallers are sparing the landfill and diesel fuel by picking up residential and commercial compostables. Since 2012, local organic farmers and community gardens have reaped 30,910 pounds of compost from their neighbors’ “scrapple.”  Find out what you could be composting instead of recycling or trashing!

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Question of the Week

How can I keep my compost pile active?

Like me, you may get busy with other activities and only turn it once a season, when this garden chore finally makes its way back to the top of your garden maintenance to-do list.

Even though it WILL all turn into compost eventually, neglecting it slows down the process.

So, how do you get that fabulous potential pile of gardener’s black gold moving again?

And the answer is to add a bit of nitrogen when you turn it. Just a small amount will wake up those dormant, hungry microbes and get them moving again, heating up your pile and getting it to the finish line. Grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen, along with your kitchen scraps. Although adding those will feed your microbes, they also add to the volume of the pile, which you’re trying to decrease.

If you built your pile according to the recommended size of three feet tall and wide, adding more volume after you’ve first built it slows down the process. If you’re patient, that’s still a fine solution.

But if you’re looking to have some home-produced compost for your garden beds, adding a smaller volume source of nitrogen is better. Organic fertilizers that are relatively high in nitrogen work great, as does manure. But another great source is coffee grounds.

So I want to remind people about the wonderful program that we started to help increase coffee ground availability for savvy gardeners: Ground to Ground. Many local coffee shops have joined our initiative and are giving their coffee grounds away to anyone who will take them…absolutely free! Please visit our Ground to Ground website to find a coffee shop near you.

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Plant of the Week

Giant Coneflower

Giant Coneflower

Rudbeckia maxima

Giant coneflower is a stunning native perennial wildflower. Its huge silvery blue foliage sets it off against other natives. It gets its name from the very tall flower stalks that emerge in late spring through summer, much like succulents that send out tall flower stalks. The flowers that resemble Black-Eyed Susans are a vital source of pollen for our native bees. With its tall stature at bloom, it's best planted in the back of your beds as a stunning show-off against shorter plants. Plant in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. It will not survive extreme drought for long periods, so plant in an area where you can easily supplement irrigation with a bucket of harvested water from your kitchen faucet or shower.

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