Good Work, Kit! (S1:E8 of Good Work New York Vlogcast)
On Good Work New York,we're talking to our very own Composter Extraordinaire, Kit! She's going to help us demystify what composting actually is and why it's so beneficial.
We educate Rockland about composting with our amazing partner, Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority.
For more information on composting, check out our website at RocklandCCE.org/Gardening/Compost-Resources.
Or you can contact our Horticulture Diagnostic Laboratory to have your questions answered by our experts. Call (845) 429-7085, option 3. Ask about purchasing a 'darth vader' style compost bin at cost.
Charlie: Hi there, Charlie here. Communications Manager for Cornell Cooperative Extension and this is my pet project 'Good Work, New York' a podcast where we're talking about all the good work that happens here in Rockland, the Hudson Valley, and New York State. Today with me I have miss Kit. Say hello.
Kit: Hello, my name is Kit Meenan I'm with the Master Gardeners program at Cornell Cooperative Extension and I am a composter.
Charlie: Speaking of composting, I have some questions about composting. Now, my office is right next to our Horticultural Diagnostic Lab where people come all the time and ask questions and get advice. Oftentimes I hear my lab director say, "And do you compost?" And people have all different sorts of objections. Mostly they say: 'oh it stinks,' 'it's really hard,' 'I don't want to take care of worms.' Now that's not all true, is it?
Kit: No, it is not. I have been composting for years and I am -I have never had any disruption in my compost heaps. So what I would say is there are many different types of compost units that you can use from very small, digging a hole, and to very elaborate and expensive. It all depends on what you would like to use if you are composting, and there are certain things that you don't want to put in your compost - that would draw animals. And I live in the upper part of Rockland County, and I we have a lot of little critters around, and I don't want them in my compost bin. So there are some of the things that you do not put in your compost though. You don't want to put into oils or any kind of meats that would attract any kind of animals. So if you just put in your vegetable scraps and in some of your -which it would be a green- or Browns which would be leaves. You sort of use a lasagna sort of way where you you sort of like layer them so you would put your brown and your greens Browns and greens and you would encompass your your vegetable scraps with the Browns so that there's no smell going out and you're not putting anything that's going to attract animals. You will have worms in your compost. You'll have microorganisms macro-organisms. If you build your compost, they will come. You don't have to worry about them. They'll just come up from the ground, and if you have one of them that's above the ground, all you do is add a little bit of soil in there to introduce your micro and macro organisms. And some worms and you will have a nice compost that will pile that will work very good for you.
Charlie: So it sounds like there are a lot of options with composting and even to how like what kind of container you use and you said you can even just dig a hole or maybe use like chicken wire make a little enclosure. There's another option that we sell on behalf of our partnership with Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority. We sell these compost bins they're big and black they kind of look like a 'Darth Vader' helmet and we sell them at costs at only $55. And are those are good options for composting?
Kit: Yes, in fact I do use a Darth Vader and I've been very successful. I'm a lazy composter so not everything is chopped down to the finest degree. So mine takes a little longer to produce that nice lush compost that you are going to look for as the finished product. But I don't really care how long it takes me because I know that it's not going out to the carters and it's not going into the waste stream. So it's staying in my yard I'm putting it in my compost -into my compost bin. It turns into lush compost. Then I don't have to worry about it going up 400 miles up to it to a dump where it will do nothing but spew gases, which we don't need in our atmosphere.
Charlie: Great, so now composting has obviously a lot of environmental benefits because we're reducing the gas and the trucking and all of that. And it sounds like it would help our tax bill also because if there's less municipal waste than there are less opportunities for us to be charged for that waste?
Kit: Yes, I find that I have very little garbage and because we are putting out all of our recyclables we eliminate a lot of our garbage. I'm sure most people have noticed that. Now if you go and you start reducing your waste stream by taking your kitchen scraps and putting them in your compost, on your yard, on your property, then you eliminate that. You will notice that you have very very little garbage to put out to the Carters. If everybody in your neighborhood would do that, we would eliminate a lot of the- maybe they don't have to come all the time, they would have less to take to up to upstate New York and dispose of, and we would be able to maybe reduce some of our taxes because we don't have as many trips to take and that many trucks and gas and the usage of our highways and gas emissions and the neighborhoods would be a lot a nicer also.
Charlie: And that also that benefits our gardens as well right?
Kit: Our yards and gardens can make use of the compost? Yes, so when you have your finished compost which will look like really rich soil. It won't be hot. If it's -if you take it out of your compost and you see anything you recognize, then you put it back. It's not ready yet. If you find that it's hot or really warm, then it's still being worked on. But when it's nice and cool and there's no real smell to it, then you can use that compost in your garden or on your yard. You can use it as an amendment. Rockland County has very hard soil. It's clay. So if you're going to put it in your garden, you dig it up -your clay garden, your soil- and you add your compost to it. When you add the compost it makes an area so that when it rains, the rain will go down into your garden soil instead of taking off the topsoil and just not getting down to the roots of your plants. So it's really a very healthy way to start your garden. Start with your compost, and this way you can have nice roots that will accept the rainwater when it comes down. Also the erosion problems that we will have will be somewhat eliminated. And also you can use it as a ground cover. You can put it on the top of here your gardens, your plants, your vegetable garden, or even your flower garden. It looks very nice and neat, and it keeps the roots cooler in the summer and in the winter it gets a little warmer. And it looks very nice. And you're using something that you've produced yourself.
Charlie: Wonderful. Now for someone who doesn't have a yard - we don't have too much more time today - but can you talk a little bit about the options for people that have to do it on their patio or in their basement or even under their kitchen sink?
Kit: Okay, there are a lot of different types of composting, ways of composting. So there are some that you can that you can use, that you can see them online. I vermicompost. Vermicompost is using worms. These are special worms they come from a worm farm. You can order them online and these are indoor worms. These aren't outside worms that you would see like earthworms. These are special. They're from the tropics they can only be in a certain type of temperature. These will eat their body weight in food scraps, so this is another way that you can get rid of your food scraps if you live in a place that you cannot put a compost bin out in a yard.
Charlie: So it sounds like there are really no downsides to composting?
Kit: There are no downsides. If you can get yourself to to collect your kitchen scraps -you'd be amazed how much you put in the garbage. If you can collect them and put them in -make it a habit- and sort of like collect them, go out and put him in your compost bin. Make sure your compost bin is convenient to you. Kit: It doesn't really make a difference whether it's in the Sun or the shade. If it's not convenient to you, you're not going to use it. So you want to make it convenient, and you want to make it into like a habit that you use it every day or every couple days with the food scraps that you collect. And then with your newspapers, you can use that as a brown, or your leaves. Fall is coming and you'll have lots of leaves to use. You can put them on the side of your compost bin and have them available to you. So there's a lot of things that you can do, and you will be rewarded. It's good for the environment, it's good for the earth. Do your part for making everything green.
Charlie: Thank you, Kit. That was very informative, and answered a lot of my questions. And I would like everyone to check out our website for more information. If you're interested in composting, we have a ton of fact sheets and information on the website. But you can also call our horticultural diagnostic lab and ask all your questions to a live person and have them answered. And that way if you have any concerns that aren't covered in the fact sheet -but the fact sheets are pretty comprehensive- but if you have any personal concerns that you will really like to have more comfort, you can talk to one of our lab people. And that's our episode for today, and we'll be back next week with another episode of "Good Work, New York!" and that's some good work, New York! Bye!
Last updated December 13, 2019