Broom Corn–or is it Broomcorn?

...some unripe stalks for the lighter colors. How much do I plant? I finally found some good instructions on broom making (links later), long after planting, and those said that you need 45 nice big heads to make a standard flat broom. Each plant yields one head. My harvest was 50 heads total, including scrawny ones. This means I won’t be making a standard broom. Keep that number–45–in mind, and then pad it to make allowance for s...

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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

...not be saluted by the dashing officers of the quarterdeck, but my shrouded body can be pitched overboard at sea. It’s a thing! It’s called a “full-body maritime burial”.  In the U.S. you just need to be in Federal Waters, at least 3 miles off shore and in water at least 600 ft. deep. It turns out there’s a joint that works out of Long Beach Harbor which does this for you. Erik, are you taking notes? Fantasy 3: Comp...

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Matching Your Waste Stream to Your Composting Method

Image source: Philip Cohen, Wikipedia. This past weekend I taught a composting class at a local Waldorf school to a group of adults. When I asked the students to describe their living situations, I realized I needed to take a detour from the main activity of the day, building a large biodynamic compost pile, into a discussion of worm composting. Why? A few of the attendees lived in apartments or had very small yards. The type...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...to make yogurt. In fact, I do believe we covered it in our book. Thing is, back in the day when we made yogurt, it was Erik’s job. When he slacked on it, I didn’t even consider picking it up. Chalk it up to the mysteries of division of labor in a household. Anyway, we went to see Mark Frauenfelder talk about his great new book, Made by Hand , and one of things he mentioned was how much he and his family are digging making their own...

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Cat Litter Composting

...that link for more info on Jenkins’ good work in that area–research, technique, message boards, etc. It’s all there. Human, cat and dog waste are all more tricky to work with than your more benign chicken and bunny waste. This isn’t something one should do in a half-assed way, but it is possible. The plan I’m going to follow is the basic humanure model, which is classic composting, but with lots of attention and care...

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Cat Litter Compost, Installment #3

...much less expensive than the clumping brands, and suitably plant based, but under ordinary circumstances, since its not scoopable, you have to dump the whole tray rather often, which leads to a fast build up of material. If you have room for it, this might be okay.  (I’ll have more to say about pine litter further down, though.) 4) You have to add extra nitrogen to your pile to make it work. Even though it’s plenty stinky, the nitrog...

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Biodynamic Composting Workshop

I’m teaching a hands-on biodynamic composting workshop at a local Waldorf school this weekend and looking forward to seeing some of you. We’ll go over the science of compost and the intention focusing thoughtstylings of Rudolf Steiner. What: Biodynamic Composting Workshop When: 8/9/2014, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Where: Highland Hall Garden in Northridge, California Learn how to create your own compost! Compost builds s...

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Compost Outlaws

...which in turn are used for State recycling and enforcement programs.” There’s a opportunity in this composting kerfuffle for an elegant solution. Anyone who gardens in the city knows how important, and sometimes difficult, it is to get enough organic matter. How about regional composting facilities? Instead of trucking organic matter from restaurants and yards to far-off dumps (and generating tons of diesel particulate matter on thos...

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Tips on Composting from Will Bakx of Sonoma Compost

Sonoma Compost’s composting operation. On Thursday at the National Heirloom Exposition, Will Bakx, soil scientist and operations manager of Sonoma Compost, gave a rapid fire lecture on the nitty gritty details of composting. Here’s some of his useful tips: Temperature and Turning Compost should stay above 131ºF for 15 days to kill pathogens. Bakx recommended getting a thermometer to check the temperature every day during the...

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DIY Funerals Part 2: Swine Composting

...s lots of stuff I don’t know. Like the difference between hay and straw. Anyway, this is exciting, because it brings me closer to being composted. (In my funereal fantasy world, at any rate) One of the commenters, Raleigh Rancher, kindly sent along a link to Composting Swine Mortalities in Iowa, a publication of the Iowa State University Extension Program. Thank you, Raleigh!  What a trove of information! It has how-to’s, and a FAQ. I...

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