Monthly Archives: August 2010

Some Tips for Better Compost

We just read a great article on gardenguides.com and thought we would share some of their composting tips with you.  While compost is very easy to maintain and pretty much takes care of itself, there are some small things you can do to make sure your compost pile is thriving and producing nutrient-filled soil.

Compost Care:

Keep your compost pile in a semi-shaded area in order to keep it from drying out too much.  Make sure to sprinkle your compost with a garden hose when it appears dry. Remember to keep your compost moist, but not wet because beneficial organisms cannot survive in soggy conditions.

Using your Compost:

When your compost is ready, you can mix it into the soil before planting or use it as mulch.  Either way, make sure to use it as soon as possible because the longer it sits, the fewer nutrients it contains.

Quicken the Composting Process:

If you would like to speed up the composting process, turn the pile once a week to allow oxygen into the center of the pile, where it encourages growth of bacteria and fungi. Also, particle size has a lot to do with the decomposition speed, so try to make your pieces of compost smaller if you want it to go by faster.

What to Compost:

-kitchen waste

-lawn clippings (use thin layers so they don’t mat down)

-chopped leaves

-shredded branches

-garden plants (use disease-free plants)

-shredded paper

-weeds

-straw or hay

-newspaper

-wood ash (sprinkle lightly between layers)

-tea leaves and coffee grounds

What Not to Compost:

-meat scraps and fatty trash

-excessive wood ashes

-sawdust (generally slows the decomposition of the pile)

Potential Problems:

-If there is an unpleasant odor coming from your compost it is because there is either  too much nitrogen in the pile, compaction, or the pile has been over watered.  To solve this issue of too much nitrogen, add high carbon material such as straw, pine needles, or grass trimmings. to solve the compaction problem, aerate the pile and to reverse the effects of overwatering, add dry leaves or wood chips to soak up the water and aerate.

-If the pile is not heating up it could be due to lack of nitrogen, it needs to be turned, low moisture, or the compost is finished.  If there is not enough nitrogen, add fresh manure, grass clippings, or blood meal and mix the pile.  If the pile needs to be turned, mix the compost by bringing outside material to the center.  If there is low moisture make sure to water the compost so the moisture gets to the center of the pile.  Poke deep holes in the pile before watering.  If the compost is finished it will smell earthy rather than rotten or moldy and it will be dark and crumbly.

-If the compost is damp and only the center is warm it is because the pile is too small and you will need to add more compost material.

Finished Compost

Save Water: Use Cooking Water to Irrigate your Plants

Instead of setting your sprinkler system to run for a half an hour three times a week, make use of something that you would normally throw down the train.  Whenever you boil any kind of food (pasta, corn, potatoes, lobster, etc) let the water come down to room temperature and then use it to water the plants in your gardens or the ones potted around your house.  In addition to saving water, the plants will receive a nutrient boost from the vitamins and minerals the food you boiled has left behind in the cooking water.  With this method, you will save water and money and contribute to making the earth healthier.

Follow these tips in order to find success:

-Don’t heavily salt the water because excess salt can damage your plants and the soil health.

-Don’t use water that you’ve added oil to because it can turn rancid and attract pests.

-Don’t use the cooking water for houseplants because there is a bit of an odor especially if you boiled broccoli or brussel spouts, but don’t worry because it isn’t a problem outside.

Video Shows You How Worm Composting is Done!

Yesterday we blogged about the benefits of worm composting, how worm composting works, and the types of worm composting bins.  Today we found a video that shows how beneficial and simple worm composting really is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcqTiy9xE6I&fs=1&hl=en_US

Everything you Need to Know About Worm Composting

How does Worm Composting Work?:

After setting up the container, begin feeding the worms the same organic waste that you would normally compost.  The worms chew on it for a while and when they’re done eating they digest it and there you have your worm compost!

The Benefits:

Not only does worm composting increase the nutrient levels in the soil but worm castings also contain millions of microbes that help break down nutrients that are already in the soil into plant available forms. The mucous that the worms release slows the release of the nutrients and prevents them from washing away with the first watering. Worm compost can be too rich for use alone as a seed starter but it is useful as a top dressing  and as an addition to potting mixes. Try using the ratio of one part worm casting to four parts mix and watch your plants grow!

Using Worm Composting Bins:

Unlike regular compost, which can work on its own in a pile, worm compost requires a little more structure.  These bins can be made out of almost anything but they need drainage and air flow to be built in.  The design usually depends on where you want to store your bin and how you wish to feed the worms. The are three categories of worm composting bins.

-Non-continious: undivided containers that start with a layer of bedding materials to line the bottom (shredded paper, etc). Worms are then added and organic matter is added in the layer above the bedding so the worms will start to composting the organic matter.

-Continuous vertical flow: a series of trays stacked on top of one another. The tray on the bottom is filled first like the non-continuous bins (bedding, worms, organic waste) but it is not harvested once full.  Instead, a thicker layer of bedding is added on the top and the tray above is used to add organic material. Once the worms are done composting the bottom tray they go for more food and migrate to the tray above. Once the worms have migrated, the bottom tray can be collected.

-Continuous horizontal flow: Similar structure to vertical flow, but you must line up the trays horizontally.  The bin is then divided in half by a screen of chicken wire.  One half is used until it is full and then the other half is filled with bedding and organic matter.  Then the worms migrate to the side with the food and the compost can be collected.

Worm Compost


How much CO2 and Money do you save by using an electric lawn mower? Calculate it!

http://www.treehugger.com/calculators/index.php?calc=electric_lawnmower.

-By following this link you can find out how much money and carbon dioxide you save by purchasing and using an electric lawn mower.  Just enter in how many times a month you mow your lawn, how many months of the year you mow, and how long it takes to mow and you can find it all out!  We found out that we save 60 pounds a year  of CO2 by using our Brill Razorcut Accu 38!

Brill Razorcut Accu Electric Mower

The Benefits of the NaturCut Reel -Mowers

NaturCut Mowers are Eco-friendly

-Clippings can self-fertizlize

-Encourages interaction with the garden

-0 gas emission (minimal footprint)

Easy to Use

-Lightweight

-Easy to push for people of all ages

-8 to 10 year blade life without sharpening

-Easy to attach the grass catcher

-Adjustable cutting heights

-10 inch wheels make for a more powerful push

Effective

-Rear wheels make it easy to push

-Suitable for most North American grass types

-2 year warranty

Healthy

-Good exercise for all ages

-One can enjoy the fresh air while mowing

-Very safe as no sticks and stones fly up like with power mowers

6 Minute Assembly Video for Fiskars Reel Mower

Here is a great video showing the step by step assembly process for the Fiskars mower. So if you’re having problems with the assembly this video will show you how to do it in less than 6 minutes!

David speaks on environmental lawn care- Frankie Boyer Show

On July 21st, David Temple, the founder of People Powered Machines was interviewed about the ways to be environmentally responsible and how to apply this to gardening and lawn care.  Read about it and other guests on the show! http://frankieboyer.typepad.com/.

This Season’s Brill Reel Mower Testimonials

We wanted to share with you all the great reviews that the Brill Razorcut has gotten over the last few years.  When the company was started about 15 years ago the Brill was the first product we sold and even after much expansion it is still one of our most reliable products.

Testimonials:

- Hello. We just purchased a Brill 38 mower and wanted to tell you how pleased we are with it. It is a pleasure to use. Thank you for making such a quality item. It is too bad that the ease of use and quality of cut is not common knowledge. While using it I have had neighbours stop and give it a try, they are quite impressed. Thanks again -Dale

-After much researching and thinking I decided to order a brill mower from your website. I was hesitant because my lawn is the perfect example of what not to mow with a reel mower. I previously had a cheap reel mower that worked well until the plastic parts wore. I decided to take the plunge and spend the money on the brill razor cut 38. It’s nothing short of amazing even in my stick ridden bumpy lawn. It took me a few tries to get the cutting bar adjusted but once I did the brill just plows through the yard and leaves it looking healthy and natural and ready to be enjoyed. -Cory

-I found your website a week or so ago while looking for the best reel mower. Once I saw the Brill Razorcut 38 I knew it was for me. I ordered it on Saturday, and it arrived on Tuesday. I raced home and put it together and was outside cutting the grass in no time. In no time, the whole neighborhood was in my yard watching me cut the grass. I felt like a new father. Everyone wanted to see, touch, try my new baby. It performed even better than described on your web site. Easy to push, lightweight, perfect cut, and it took me less time to cut the grass than with my old polluting mower. I am 150% happy with my new Razorcut. I hope to increase your sales and have my neighbors converted before long!!! Thanks again… -Scott

-Hello David, I must confirm that this mower is fabulous, even I after three disc surgeries can push it, the result is a clean cut, much better than with the usual mowers. You can read I am pretty enthusiastic about, and you can use this as an honest recommendation for this product. It is easy to use and to clean, I use a small broom and my hands to remove left grass. I would like to order a grass catche…thanks from a very satisfied customer. My friends are now interested in those mowers. Sincerely… -Barbara

-I have used US reel mowers for years. This Brill mower beats them all, hands down. Thank you for importing it. -James B.

-I received my Brill push mower yesterday. I am mechanically challenged and I put this thing together in 10 minutes. I am proud to tell you that for the first time in my 53 years I cut my own grass. My yard looks wonderful, I got a good workout, and the mower was easy to push. I am ridiculously pleased with myself and your pro duct. I have also ordered a Tumbleweed composter. Thank you. I am saving more on yard maintenance thank the total cost of the mower. All of my friends want to come over and try out my mower. Expect an influx of orders from Nashville Tn. Thanks a million! -Elaine

-Last night I got home late. It was after 10pm when I found my new people powered lawnmower on the porch. As my wife got ready for bed I quickly put it together, turned on the outside lights and mowed my yard! Twenty five minutes later I was done and I felt really really good. It was a very simple pleasure that I hadn’t enjoyed in over 4 years. Since graduating college and joining the service I’ve been stationed overseas. I’ve just been stationed in Richmond Virginia where we have bought our first house and now I’ve mowed my own yard! …and the neighbors had no idea. This mower is a solid and very efficient piece of equipment. It was a joy to use and I look forward to the grass growing again so I can back out there. Thank you….-Jason R

Brill Razorcut

Long Awaited Silent Cut Mowers Are Finally In!

The Silent Cut Mowers:

In a most unusual container story, the silent cut mowers have finally arrived.  Thank you to our very patient customers, some who have wait three months or more! Although the wait has been extremely long it is all worth it because the Silent Cuts do a wonderful job cutting Bermuda and Zoysia Grass.  We will begin shipping the mowers to our customers on August 4th. Again, thank you for your patience and we hope you enjoy your mower!

The Silent Cut Mower

Video + Reviews : Nature Mill Indoor Electric Composter

Naturemill Indoor Composter

Nature Mill’s new redesigned XE series award winning indoor electric composters have the following improvements.

  • stronger motor
  • more powerful filters (5-7 years now)
  • energy saving mode (vacations etc)
  • improved ergonomics for the foot pedal
  • waterproofing upgrade

The Naturemill operates on about 50 cents of electricity per month, is absolutely beautiful, and has a cabinet kit to sit inside standard kitchen cabinets. The Wall Street Journal product review declared  “The NatureMill Pro XE gets the highest marks...”

NATUREMILL VIDEO FROM HISTORY CHANNEL :

HELPFUL NATUREMILL REVIEWS:

My little home composter has been chugging away for nearly a year now. It has made dozens of batches of compost. I still can’t believe how fast it turns our organic waste items into hot, black, fragrant compost. I was always under the impression that compost takes years and is very messy, but this system is different because it has a small motor and an air filter. There is basically no smell. It takes a few weeks to get the cultures activated, and during that time the instructions say to keep the machine closed. It all makes sense if you follow the instructions.

In summary, this is an expensive machine but worth every penny. The convenience alone, of not having to take out wet smelly trash or make trips to the compost pile is worth it. As a bonus you get tons of your own compost whenever you want it. – Daniel

I’ve had a NatureMill composter for several months now and it really is changing the way we think about trash. What a great invention, to turn trash into something useful that you can add to your garden and watch as your vegetables grow and come back to your plate.

The little machine takes pretty much anything we trow away in the kitchen (except big bones). It can handle meat and fish and egg shells which our regular backyard composter can not. We had some learning to do at first, getting the cultures started, which is explained pretty well in their instruction manual. Definitely worth it if you consider all the trips you save going outside to the compost bin. And now our regular trash (what’s left of it) has basically no smell at all since there is no food in it.

We have made several batches already, and we have learned that some things compost better than others. Coffee grounds, egg shells, and lettuce all go down fast and smell nice. Flowers for some reason do not – the stems on ours are probably too hard, so it takes a long time to break down. We tried paper, they do not recommend that, and a little seems to be ok but really not like a whole bin of shredded paper. Guess the junk mail will have to go elsewhere.

Overall, a great little machine, definitely worth the investment. We are saving up for another to put outside for our pet waste (yes, they have a model for that too). – RICH

naturemill indoor electric composter

naturemill- electric composter

Initially I was very hesitant about this machine. I saw it on Oprah but it just seemed too good to be true. They’ve obviously been in business for a while and have made the refinements over time. It’s a little quieter than my fridge, and smells kind of like vegetable soup when you lift the lid – certainly an improvement overy my kitchen trash bin, which is no basically odor free because these days it has only a few plastic wrappers in it and I hardly even have to take it out. To me, the NatureMill is almost like just another recycling bin, but for food waste only. It doesn’t take corn cobbs or steak bones, which is understandable. But it does quick work on coffee grounds, spoiled fruits and vegetables, table scraps, etc. It gets very hot inside there so the company says you can safely compost cheese, egg shells, and meat scraps, which I have just started to do and so far so good.

My compost is amazingly dark and rich. You can’t buy stuff like that. All you get in a store is dry, dusty, dirt-looking material which probably is mostly dirt with hardly any compost at all. When I make my own compost, I know it’s real, and boy is it good stuff. – Steve