Homeowners who have used the fall and winter months to get their yards ready for spring by burning unwanted debris will now have to find an alternative way to get rid of yard waste now that the state's burn ban is in effect.
Through September, residents will have to either dispose of their yard waste by hauling it to a landfill or implementing other methods to dispose of it. For many, composting is a simple solution and one that can be used year-round.
"I try to compost, and built three bins using block, rebar and landscape timbers almost according to P. Allen Smith's design," said Judy Kirkland, a Grovetown resident and president of the After Six Garden Club.
Garden expert P. Allen Smith notes that the average American family produces more than 1,200 pounds of organic waste each year, most of which ends up in landfills. On his Web site, pallensmith.com, he has instructions for building a composting corral, which consists of four concrete blocks, 16 landscape timbers and four metal rods.
"You use the blocks for the base to keep the wood off the ground and improve air circulation. I cut some of my timbers in half and drilled holes in the ends of all so the rebar would slide through," said Kirkland. "The bin is 4 feet by 8 feet. Begin by putting two 8-foot sections, front and back of the bin. Then stack two 4-foot lengths and continue rotating lengths. Mine is four timbers high as suggested by Smith, but he made his square. I wanted mine to fit in a smaller location and be easily accessible from the front side."
Composting is fairly simple. The Environmental Protection Agency Web site at www.epa.gov provides a list of what to include in compost bins and what to leave out.
Among the "in" items are animal manure, cardboard rolls, coffee grounds and filters, dryer and vacuum-cleaner lint, eggshells, grass clippings, nut shells, shredded newspaper and tea bags.
The "out" items include dairy products, fat, grease, oils, pet wastes, and yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides, which might kill beneficial composting organisms.
"As I understand it, you need more brown than green, but almost any mixture will work as long as you add water," said Kirkland. "Turning the pile speeds the process, but is not a necessity."
Kirkland said she primarily does "cold composting, which means I just put things in a pile until they decay. Hot composting requires more effort in turning and getting proportions exactly right.
"I am still learning how to hot compost for faster results," Kirkland said. "One trick I was told on the weeds is to bag them in black trash bags for a season and then compost them. The black plastic heats them up to kill the seeds."
More information can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site and at www.vegweb.com.
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