Why Are Horse Flies So Bad This Year 2022 latest 2023

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How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

You may think that throwing your carrot peelings and apple cores in the trash has no effect since they will decompose anyway. But even natural plant matter will last for years when sealed in a plastic bag and thrown into a landfill.

As a great example of community responsibility, the City of Seattle, WA offers free compost bins to all residents. This keeps over 800 million pounds of trash out of their landfills! Not only can you help divert your own kitchen waste from the landfill, you can create rich, nourishing humus for your own garden, whether it’s an acre or an old wine barrel on your patio. .

WHY SHOULD I COMPOST?

o More than 21 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the United States. If this were composted, the greenhouse gases saved would be equivalent to taking more than 2 million cars off the road.

o You will add valuable nutrients to the soil and your garden will be healthier and your vegetables will be more nutritious for you and your family.

o You will save money by not having to buy garden soil and mulching materials, and it will save the energy needed to transport these products to your store and your garden.

WHAT IS COMPOST?

When organic matter such as leaves, plant food scraps, manure, and yard waste breaks down in a controlled environment (your compost bin), a rich, fertile humus is created that will improve and fertilize the soil in your garden.

Your plants are much healthier because:

o nutrients are added

o drainage is greatly improved, if your soil contains a lot of clay

o if your soil is sandy, compost helps it retain water

If your compost pile is fresh, worms and insects will find their way there and help turn your waste into food for your garden. But it helps to get the terms right. Provide these friendly creatures with enough air, water and food, and they will be your garden’s best friends.

IS COMMERCIAL COMPOST IDENTICAL TO “HOME-MADE”?

Homemade compost is better for microbes and nutrient diversity, but bagged compost provides organic matter and some microbes. Be careful, composted manure may be mostly water by weight.

If you have a large garden where the soil needs extra nutrients, you can buy inexpensive bags of composted manure or loose compost from a local commercial composter, then add your own compost as needed.

If you buy compost, keep in mind that there are no regulatory labeling requirements on bagged compost. Grade A composted sewage sludge is probably the safest, as it is the only type of compost that requires heavy metal and pathogen testing before being approved for sale to the public. Feedlot manure is much more dangerous from a pathogen perspective because no testing is required.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE?

Even if you only have a small apartment balcony or back porch, you can compost in a plastic bin (about 18 gallons or more). Drill or drill holes about an inch or two apart on all sides, in the bottom, and in the lid. Place it in another slightly taller, shallower bin (the ones under the bed bins work well for this). Place a few stones or bricks in between so that there is space for air circulation. Add your trash and shake out the bin every other day. If you have room for two, you can add one for several months, then stop adding more and start the second. Keep shaking it occasionally until it’s brown, crumbly, and smells like dirt. You can use this compost for small balcony planters, or even your houseplants, if you don’t have room for a large garden.

WHAT DOES MY COMPOST NEED TO PROSPER?

For high-quality compost, mix nitrogen-rich materials (like clover, fresh grass clippings) with carbon-rich ones (like dried leaves and straw). Moisture is provided by rain and fresh kitchen scraps, but you may need to add water to keep it moist. Turning or mixing the pile frequently provides oxygen.

Your compost needs to breathe:

Without sufficient air, your compost pile will decompose, but more slowly…and it will be much smellier! So make sure you have enough air space in your pile. Straw works great to keep the pile from bunching up. If you don’t have access to straw, be sure to break up the clumps and try turning it regularly with a shovel or garden pitchfork to fluff it up.

Your compost needs to drink:

You want just enough moisture to lightly coat every particle in your pile, providing the perfect environment for thirsty microbes. It should be as wet as a wrung-out towel. Wetter than that and it will start to smell bad. Generally, your kitchen scraps will be moist enough, but if you add dry leaves from your garden, you may want to moisten them slightly. If your pile is exposed to the elements, cover it with a tarp in rainy weather. Too much moisture can cause the temperature inside the pile to drop and make it smelly. Insufficient moisture prevents the pile from warming up and slows down the decomposition process. Check the moisture level of your compost pile weekly and adjust if necessary. Add water to increase humidity or add dry material to help dry it out.

Your compost needs to eat:

Your friendly composting bugs have two food groups… and it’s always best to mix the two together if you can:

o Browns (dry) – These materials are high in carbon and include straw, dry leaves, wood chips or ashes, peanut shells, pine needles, vegetable stalks, and cardboard or newspaper shredded (avoid colored paper and inks). You may want to moisten them a bit as you add them to your compost pile.

o Greens (wet) – These are high in nitrogen and include kitchen waste from fruits and vegetables, green leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds, and even seaweed. Horse manure is fine, but it’s better if it’s aged well. Check at a local stable.

Your compost must stay warm:

If you live in a cold climate, your compost pile will likely be dormant over the winter. He will be in great shape as soon as the spring heat starts to warm him up again. Compost doesn’t need to be hot – 50% Fahrenheit is fine.

You may be considering hot composting (110 to 160 degrees F) because heat produces compost quickly (in weeks rather than months) and kills most seeds and plant diseases. However, studies have shown that compost produced at high temperatures has less ability to suppress soil diseases. High heat can kill beneficial bacteria needed to suppress disease.

COMPOSTING TIPS

o Balance of fresh and dry: Compost piles with a balance of one part fresh and two parts dry decompose the fastest. Add a garden fork of fresh material to the pile and cover it with two forks of dry material. Then mix them together.

o Size: Compost piles at least 3 cubic feet (3ft x 3ft x 3ft) heat up faster and break down faster.

o Start your compost heap: If you have just started your compost heap, add a shovelful of high-quality garden soil to help kick-start microbial activity in your pile.

o Mixing: If possible, mix the compost once a week to move the materials from the outside of the pile to the inside. This prevents the pile from compacting. (compacting reduces airflow and slows down decomposition)

o Smelly? : Healthy compost smells like dirt – if yours smells bad, it’s too wet. Turn it over more often and add more dry matter to help dry it out. When your compost is too wet, it strips oxygen from your pile, which slows the decomposition process and encourages anaerobic microorganisms to thrive…which increases the stench! It can also smell bad if your mixture contains too much yard debris or kitchen scraps. Bury it deep in the compost and add more dry matter.

o When finished: the compost should be dark brown, smell earthy and feel moist to the touch. The compost at the bottom of the pile usually “finishes” first. You’ll know your compost is finished and ready to use when it stops heating and the original ingredients are unrecognizable. It usually takes 6-12 months.

o Nothing happens! : If you notice that nothing is happening, you may need to add more nitrogen, water or air. Cold composting can take a year or more to decompose depending on pile materials and conditions.

o Compost pile is too hot: If your compost pile is too hot, you may have too much nitrogen. Add some more carbon materials to reduce heating. A bad smell can also indicate too much nitrogen.

o It attracts flies and insects: Adding kitchen scraps can attract insects. To avoid this problem, make a hole in the center of the pile and bury the waste. Remember…don’t add meat or animal scraps, animal manure, diseased plant material, weeds, fats or oils or dairy products.

o Can I use fresh manure? : Nope. It could burn your plants. Make sure the manure (NOT dog or cat feces) is well aged before putting it in your garden.

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