Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Not Too Late!

Compost out of the barrel before sifting
Sifted compost ready for the garden
Lovin' my compost today--see the pics of the finished compost I just dumped out of my composting barrels today.

We didn't have a big group for the first night of the Master Composter course yesterday, but it's going to be a great class. However, if you weren't able to attend because you didn't get the word in time, no worries--you can still take part in the rest of the course. This Thursday's class will be at the Sanitation Department--the class will likely move after that to a location better suited to hands on compost making.

The first night we talked about the Yardwise program. Americans are crazy about lawns, which leads to a lot of problems, not the least of which is poor water quality. For example:
  • 90% of the pesticides uses are used on lawns. 
  • Lawn grass is the most heavily irrigated crop in the US.
  • 75% of river and lake pollution comes from landscaping.
The basic elements of the Yardwise program are:
  • Landscape design 
  • Grasscycling (Don't bag it)
  • Mulching
  • Composting
  • Integrated pest management
Of course, the primary emphasis of the course is composting. Other than water quality issues, the City wants to encourage composting to extend the life of our landfill by diverting a significant percentage of the waste out of the waste stream. Although Wichita Falls now diverts 22 - 25 tons of compostable waste from the landfill, only about 25% of homes participate in the program. Curbside pickup of compostable materials constitutes only 10% of the waste the city uses to make compost. This is crazy. Almost 2/3 of the stuff we throw in the trash can be composted. Landfills are costly to build and it takes a long time to get all of the permitting done, for good reasons. If you don't want to pay for a new landfill, quit sending stuff there.

We have a great city composting program. Although I compost most of my kitchen scraps (except meat/dairy) and a lot of yard waste, any organic can be sent to the city composting program. I put out a full can almost every week, filled with cardboard and paper primarily. I don't put out much regular trash. There are sometimes 2 or 3 weeks between putting out a regular trash container (and if I could get better cooperation from the other household members, I bet we could do twice as well.)

I was under the impression that if you live in a house with alley dumpster pickup you couldn't have an organics container. But according to Dave Lehfeldt at the Sanitation Department, that is not true. So those of you who heard the same thing, call them and order a cart (see the phone number is the link above.)

My point? Everyone needs to compost. If you don't have the room or the inclination for your own compost pile, then order up an organics container.  I hope to see more people at the Thursday night class.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Attention All Composter Wannabes!

Home composting system
My husband built me a great composting system that made it easier for me to make compost. Overall, I love it, but I think I should be turning out more compost than I am. I have also tried starting a worm bin multiple times, but stopped because I felt like a serial killer of worms.

If you're like me, you want to compost, but you could use some help. Have I got a deal for you! Well, not me exactly. The City of Wichita Falls has a deal for you. I just get to be a messenger.

The City will be offering a Master Composter course. For those wanting the Master Composter designation, you must attend all of the classes (20 hours) and do 30 hours of volunteer work. Volunteers offer programs on composting and on-site assistance for people having problems with their composting efforts. However, anyone with an interest in composting is welcome to attend some or all of the classes.

Here are the details:

  • The class will be held from 6:00 - 9:00 PM on the following dates: 24 and 26 September and 8, 10, 22 and 24 October.
  • The first class will be held at the Sanitation Department offices at 200 Sunset Dr (adjacent to the Lucy Park entrance).
  • The class is FREE! Register by calling the Sanitation Department at 761-7977.
Individuals who complete the requirements of the Master Composting class receive a pretty green shirt, an opportunity to buy a worm bin and backyard composting bin for cost, a tour of the city composting facility and a load of compost. How cool is that?

I'm signed up. Hope to see you at the first class on the 24th.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Living Green Meet Up Reminder

Don't forget the Living Green meet up on Wednesday, September 18, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, at the Lake Wichita pavilion (last entrance to the park.)

The topic for this meet up is "Make It Yourself." The idea is to bring something you make yourself (cleaning product, personal care product, food items, soap, etc.) Bring a sample and the recipe to share with others.

Please RSVP to if you plan to come (or post to the Facebook page) and indicate what you'll be bringing to share as an enticement to others who may want to learn more about your item. Don't feel like you have anything to share at this time? No worries. Just come anyway.

A Trashy Weekend

Some people posted on a local newstation Facebook page that they were ashamed at the litter around town for the  Hotter 'n Hell Hundred. Of course, most of their ire was directed at the City of Wichita Falls which had been putting out a yeoman's effort to ensure the city looked nice for the 15,000 riders. I wasn't very nice and offered to direct the complainers to a number of groups that pick up litter around town on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, no one contacted me.

Trash at Sikes Lake
June got a little muddy
 One such cleanup was the annual Sikes Lake cleanup that is the Saturday following Labor Day each year. The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist chapter joins up with Midwestern State University to do a lake cleanup. We have had as many as 200 volunteers show up. This year, there were probably about 25 - 30 people, which was enough.  Although the amount of trash in the truck may not seem like a lot, that's a big truck.

One of the hardest working volunteers was June, who ended up muddy, but keep up good humor throughout the project.

Trash near Lake Wichita
More trash in same area
There are still a lot of places that need a good cleanup. The next day I was birding out around Lake Wichita and came across this trashy area. I took the picture with my cell phone, so it isn't the best, but if you click on the photos you will get a better idea.

If everyone did their best to reduce the amount of trash they produce and to dispose of the trash they do responsibly, then we wouldn't have to be embarrasssed when we have company. We can all pick up around our houses and businesses. I have to do a litter patrol around our house at least once a week to pick up the trash people through out of their cars.

In addition to the annual Sikes Lake cleanup, the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist chapter cleans up Plum Lake quarterly. The Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park host at least one park cleanup a year and there are several groups that do Adopt-a-Highway areas. The one I participate in is along Sisk Road with the Red River Sierra Club group. Annually the Keep Wichita Falls Beautiful hosts a city-wide cleanup in April.

There are lots of places that need a cleanup. Take a trash bag with you when you walk, get involved in one of the groups that does a cleanup, or organize a group yourself.