Monthly Archives: November 2008

Leaf Sweeper: Ten Times Faster than a Rake. Easier on Your Back.

(Or…It is possible to do leaf cleanup without a leaf blower!)
Regular leaf rakes force you to turn and twist your back, but with just one pass this 26 or 31-inch sweeper scoops leaves into the 6 bushel catcher.

largeb369Many of our customers are changing their leaf cleanup method to a push lawn sweeper. Seems like some folks like to rake and some like to sweep. The advantages of raking are you can move more leaves by using the leaf bags. The advantage to sweeping is you don’t have to rake- one of the most back-wrenching activities in the garden. Walking across your lawn just like you mow but with a sweeper is more ergonomic. Planning on where to end up with your full load of leaves in the sweeper is one challenge sweeper users encounter.

The sweeper is also easy on the back, as it picks up leaves ten times faster than a rake!  When the bag is full, just lift it off for easy emptying.

  • Collect leaves without bending over
  • Reduces strain on the back
  • Faster than using a rake
  • Sweeps everything from lawn to driveway

Now the good news is whether raking or sweeping your leaves, you are NOT using a noisy gas-powered leaf blower! Which is a good time for me to rant AGAIN::

4 GOOD REASONS TO AVOID GAS POWERED LEAF BLOWERS

  1. They pollute the air.
    A single gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution in a year as 80 cars.
  2. They’re noisy.
    A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels (60dB). Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 dB. According to the U.S. EPA this level of noise actually degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure. And how is it that every afternoon fall party we have had lately, is the exact time all the neighborhood blowers get fired up! (read my noise rant here)
  3. They worsen allergies and asthma and irritate the lungs.
    Because they operate at such high velocities, leaf blowers stir up the mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with rain and decomposition.
  4. They waste gas.
    Gas. Transportation of the gas. Grrrr. Our easy to use lawn and leaf sweepers offer a petroleum-free alternative.

And lastly, don’t forget to compost all those lovely leaves!

Inspired Recycling Bins: Landfill, Recycle, Compost Labels

We have been looking to manufacture beautiful recycling bins and came across this idea which is at the Getty Museum. Instead of being labeled by what goes into the containers, they are labeled with where the contents are going.

trash2

The idea that the trash is going to the landfill may make someone think a little harder as they sort trash. Love that kind of thinking…we’re seeing what we can come up with along these lines. If anyone knows of great recycle and trash bins, please let us know. We did have one that customers loved…the Ecopod made by BMW but they have stopped production.

Coffee Grounds : Perk up Your Compost Pile More Effectively Than Manure

GROUNDS ARE HOT!
Coffee grounds seem to be a great alternative to manure for composting all those fall leaf piles. I personally use manure because we have have easy access to a horse that we know is healthy…but for all those without access to a healthy-pooping-animals, coffee grounds is a “hot + longer lasting” alternative:

When coffee grounds made up 25 percent of the volume of their compost piles, temperatures in the piles stayed between 135 degrees and 155 degrees for at least two weeks, enough time to have killed a “significant portion” of the pathogens and seeds. In contrast, the manure in the trials didn’t sustain the heat as long. Science Daily

GROUNDS ARE NOT ACIDIC
Worried about PH of the grounds? Well aren’t you smart…there are lots of articles about this out there. But here’s the truth…

Contrary to popular belief, coffee grounds are not acidic. After brewing, the grounds are close to pH neutral, between 6.5 and 6.8. The acid in the beans is mostly water-soluble, so it leaches into the coffee we drink.

You can also work the grounds directly into the soil now in time for spring planting. It takes about 3 months for them to work their magic into the soil. There is even a really technical analysis including nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium levels entitled the “Starbucks Coffee Compost Test“.

COFFEE SHOPS WANT TO GIVE YOU THEIR GROUNDS FOR FREE
So next time you are at a local coffee shop, ask for some “grounds” with your coffee. No need to be shy, Starbucks even encourages you to come in and collect them and may even have them prepackaged and ready to take-out. Which brings us back to you saving landfill and transportation costs by picking these up:

1169261020_starbucksStarbucks alone produces enough coffee waste to equal 4 747’s per year in weight. That material should all be going back into the earth where it belongs, rather than into landfills.

picture-30Starbucks Coffee developed the “Grounds for Your Garden” initiative to reuse coffee grounds, the largest portion of its waste. It’s a year-round program that offers complimentary bags of spent coffee grounds to customers, parks, schools and nurseries for adding to your composter.

Massive Honeybee Die-offs Linked to Pesticides: A Big Reason to Grow and Buy Organic

QUICK FACTS:

BUYING
Ok, so if you are worried about the incremental cost of purchasing organic produce for Thanksgiving, think about the actual cost of produce grown using chemicals and pesticides…honeybee colony collapse disorder. Even non-organic seeds coated with pesticides are linked to the problem.

GROWING
Bees wander around in their universe. There are no fences, no borders, no private property rights. They trespass no more than rabbits or deer or birds. That’s a given.  Now take that to your fall and spring lawn care rituals and your personal gardening efforts…just avoid pesticides that could in anyway contribute to any further toxic saturation of the honeybee colonies. You could also plant bee-friendly plants and make your yard a safe-for-bee zone.

Compost is an integral part to moving towards an organic chemical-free healthy lawn and garden. As much as you can make! From newspapers to every scrap of food, to your fall leaves…it is all gold for your garden. We have been composting for 40 years and have all kinds of piles in all states. We also have tested many different types of composters in the 10 years we have been in business and carry just a few different composters that we think are best.

We urge everyone to begin to think of the big picture of the costs of non-organic gardening…from your lawn to your food purchases.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Evidence That Pesticides Are Seriously Messing Up Our Honey Bees
In Search of the Colony Collapse Disorder Culprit(s)
For Beekeepers, Colony Collapse Disorder Makes November the Cruelest Month
Wikipedia Colon Collapse Disorder
8 Companies and Organizations Truly Helping Honey Bees

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10 Ideas for New Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Great article from Take Part may inspire your to start a few new family Thanksgiving traditions that really are more about appreciation for our abundance and thanks for our nation and it’s future.

Thanksgiving is second in a slew of holidays at this time of year that have become one extended caloric nightmare.  Marketers have successfully driven consumers to celebrate these holidays in an atmosphere of frenzied food consumption, often from everyday pre-packaged products festooned with special holiday cheer.  However, you can say no to the pre-packaged cheer and have a hearty, sustainable meal.  Below are 10 tips to a healthier, humane, sustainable, “low carb(on)” and labor friendly Thanksgiving from some fantastic organizations.

Read 10 tips here.

Time to Winterize Your Rain Barrel

As the temperatures up north here drop, it’s time to winterize your rain barrel just like all your other outside watering tools. It’s simple

  • Drain all water from the rain barrel and the hoses.
  • Move your rain barrel into a garage or storage shed if you have one. If you do not have the storage space, turn the barrel upside down to prevent water from entering. Cover the spigot opening to prevent water from collecting there as well.
  • Back at your house, remember to reconnect gutter downspout or add temporary flexible gutter downspout to ensure water is diverted away from your house.

Planting a Spring Garden? Do This Right Now…

eattheviewpicIt seems since the new White House is even thinking about having an organic vegetable garden on it’s lawn, lots of new and hopeful first time gardeners are dreaming of their spring gardens. Maybe it’s the economy. Maybe it’s the 100 mile diet urge. Whatever…we urge you not to wait til spring to begin your endeavor as your soil needs time to settle down and make the nutrients available for your plants.

Digg your compost in now for spring planting

Preparing the soil for a garden is done best in late fall, when adding compost, partially aged compost, and other organic materials to the soil will not take nitrogen from your seedlings. So before the soil freezes, get out there and turn some of your compost (ready or not) right into where you want to plant and let it amend your soil over the winter. If you have compost tea or tea from a wormery, pour that whereever you anticipate tucking your vegtables in the soil and let the repair and recolonization begin!

I admit I have an obsession…

This would be a good time to admit that I may think of my soil more than my actual plants! I can’t pass a manure heap, a bag of leaves, or pile of garden waste without considering bringing it home to my various composting areas. I have a compost tumbler (a sunmar 400), a womery/ worm composter (can-o-worms), and a large loose compost pile in a corner of my yard where all my neighbors toss their leaves and garden clippings. It is surprising to see how that pile (that we in no way prepare or mix) breaks down on it’s own in under a year.  I even bury in my shredded mail, newspapers, and branches and everything turns into unbelievably rich humus.

The point here is: nature is going to do it’s thing. Compost just happens! So help your spring garden areas now and the compost will be absorbed into soil structure and  ready to feed your spring plants.