Organic Gardening – Posthole Composting

Are you an avid gardener? Are you dedicated to producing quality produce or an enviable garden? Studies have shown that not only is composting an excellent way to help the environment to reduce the carbon surplus that the earth experiences, but on a local level, it is an easy and affordable way to enrich the soil in your garden or yard. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “food scraps and yard waste currently make up more than 28% of what we throw away.”[i] Of course, while not all of that material can be reused in a compost, imagine what a reduction in even a small percentage of that number could do for our planet and for the soil!

As interest in preserving the environment grows, more people have become interested in how they can do their part. One of the many ways is through composting, or more specifically, posthole composting, which is more than a simple solution for waste reduction.

While you may have heard of the process of collecting organic material and allowing the organic material to decompose, which is known as composting naturally, this much simpler form of recycling is less well-known. Posthole composting is the process of using common kitchen scraps to fertilize and enrich a small area of land or dirt and to encourage nature’s workers to convert organic material into usable soil. It is simple, cost-effective, and provides your garden with invaluable nutrients.

Advantages Of Posthole Composting

Although it may not be the right option for everyone, posthole composting has many amazing advantages:

Traditional composting requires the use of a compost bin or pile. When you think about composting, you may think of a yard with a large pile of leaves, a compost tumbler or bin, or even a 55-gallon barrel requiring constant turning, maintenance, and feeding. On the other hand, posthole composting can be as expansive or scaled-down as you want it to be. No bin or pile is required. All you need is a small bucket to store your organic kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, and even coffee grounds.

Posthole composting does not require any special containers, location, or a large amount of space. You can compost wherever you expect to plant trees, shrubs, flowers, or vegetable plants. Even raised beds are a good place for posthole composting. All you need is a shovel and your kitchen scraps.

Composting requires the right environment: right temperature, an appropriate amount of moisture, the right organic material, and aeration. This last one may be a stretch for your mind, but a compost pile needs to be regularly disturbed and turned to speed up the decomposition process. When posthole composting, no maintenance or special conditions are required.

Earthworms, although seldom thought of, play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem. Earthworms add value to the composting process and help to speed up decomposition. Earthworms are attracted to the organic material in your compost hole and will flock to the soil in your garden. As they digest the organic material, they also leave behind feces, which provides additional fertilization. They also help to aerate and turn over the soil as they travel along. By digging your posthole 8 to 12 inches deep, you are placing the organic material right in the middle of the worms’ habitat. They will love you for it, and more importantly, the soil will receive the valuable nutrients produced through the process.

Does the cost of keeping your garden beautiful and lush keep you from doing it? Store-bought fertilizers can be expensive and, in some cases, harmful to the environment. Posthole composting is not only inexpensive but more importantly, it’s FREE. In theory, you are recycling waste from things that you already purchased and consumed.

Composting is also a great way to save on the cost of trash collection and space in landfills. By recycling household waste, you are reducing the amount of trash that will now be sent off to a landfill to rot amongst the old tires, cell phones, and water bottles.

Are you concerned about global warming? As the earth’s landfills reach capacity, overflowing into streams, rivers, and the ocean, more and more methane gases are released into the air at an alarming rate. By reducing the amount of organic material from the landfill by composting, you not only reduce the amount of space required in a landfill, as mentioned earlier, but it has the added benefit of reducing the volume of gases that seep into the atmosphere. Aside from the benefits to the soil in your yard, imagine how much you can reduce your carbon footprint by following this simple process.

Let’s be honest. You are very busy, and gardening can be time-consuming in and of itself. You may not have the time to be constantly turning, maintaining, and feeding your compost pile. It takes work! The beauty of the posthole compost is that all it takes is a few scraps from the kitchen and something to dig with. Nothing fancy required and no large time commitment. Just cover up your hole with soil, and you are finished! During the spring and summer, when the ground is not frozen, the entire process should require no more than 5 minutes yet provide substantial value to your garden or yard.

Water is, of course, a critical factor in how your garden or flower beds will grow. Compost helps the soil to retain water so that it can be used when external sources of water may not be available. The organic materials absorb the water and allow the plants to draw from it in between rainfall or watering.

Another advantage to posthole composting is that because of the relatively small amount of organic materials that you are using and assuming the right conditions, and your compost should decompose in a relatively short amount of time, from several weeks to just a few months. Within no time at all, the fruit of your efforts will be enriching the soil and providing valuable nutrients to your plants.

Sometimes referred to as the Dig and Drop Method, posthole composting is very simple. As the title suggests, ‘dig’ a hole wherever you want to place your garden, plants or trees, ‘drop’ in your organic material such as potato skins and eggshells, and top it with soil!

Lastly, vital nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of your plants. What better method of fertilizing your plants than from the source, from the ground up!

Words of Caution For Posthole Composting

While there are a vast number of advantages to posthole composting, I will also caution you about several things to avoid doing in the process.

  1. Be sure to dig your hole at least 8 inches deep but no more than 18 inches to prevent animals from catching the scent of the decomposing materials and dig it up. The deeper the hole, the more likely that the nutrients will simply seep into the groundwater, not providing your plants with any of their life-giving value. The best place for your scraps is in this area between 8 and 18 inches below ground level, where it will still receive water, yet the valuable nutrients will not be in jeopardy of being washed away.
  2. It is not recommended that meat or dairy products be included in your scrap bucket to be composted as the strong scent of rotting meat will draw rodents and dogs to your compost hole. Besides the fact, the odor will be highly unpleasant to you and your neighbors!
  3. Be sure to chop up kitchen scraps into small pieces to promote the decomposition process. Onions and potatoes, in particular, tend to sprout new shoots before they begin to decompose. Even the onion skins may be a bit tough on the process, so be sure that they are wet before putting them into your posthole.

We have briefly mentioned the types of things to add to your compost hole, but let’s look at it a little “deeper.” Meat and dairy products should not be included in your compost mix nor grease and bones. Not only would animals be attracted to your yard and potentially dig up your flower beds, but these materials require a much longer time to decompose.

Compostable Items To Posthole Compost

So, what exactly should you be putting into your kitchen scraps bucket? If you are like me, you have a small bucket the size of a children’s sand toy neatly stashed in your kitchen. As you go about your daily routine, cutting, chopping, consuming, you can toss the scraps into this bucket, allowing for easy, small quantity composting. In other words, one bucket, one posthole. You should chop or break up any large pieces to ensure that they break down quickly and easily. For example, crush eggshells to speed up the process.

What do I include?

  • Vegetable and fruit skins, rind and core
  • Leafy greens
  • Coffee grounds (toss the filter in there too!)
  • Corncobs/husks
  • Old bread
  • Peanut shells
  • Tea leaves
  • Eggshells
  • Cut flowers        

You may also want to include other household waste, such as:

  • Black and White newspaper (color or glossy newspapers will not break down the same way)
  • Pet and human hair
  • Cardboard cut into small pieces (remove any shiny material or plastic/tape as this is not biodegradable)
  • Ash (wood only)

How-to Posthole Compost

Posthole composting is an amazing, environmentally friendly way of enriching your garden and yard. To supplement the organic material, you can also add small amounts of organic fertilizer, such as alfalfa pellets, to speed up the decomposition process. When filling your posthole, be sure to casually toss in the organic material rather than compact it down. Space allows it to breathe and encourages microorganisms to congregate. Before covering the kitchen scraps with the soil that you removed, consider placing the grass or weeds that you removed when digging the hole on top, upside down, adding their nutrients and organisms to the composting process.

In my list of compostables above, you will see, pet and human hair. Although this is not necessarily a “kitchen scrap,” it does provide several added benefits in your posthole compost; hair helps to deter rodents from trying to gobble up the rotting delicacies that you have buried, and it slowly releases nitrogen, which is a crucial ingredient in turning your discarded food into nutrient-rich soil.

To the seasoned home gardener, posthole composting may seem inferior to traditional composting. However, the result is the same, an organic mixture that not only enriches and fertilizes the soil but also helps to save our planet, mother Earth, for future generations. Whether you plant right away on top of the organic material or you wait until it has decomposed, the composting process will certainly enrich the quality and beauty of your garden or produce.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the EPA’s promotion phrase to save money, energy, and natural resources. If every one of us were to attempt to follow this simple slogan, we could make a dramatic difference in the environment, the quality of our soil and those things which it produces and certainly, improve the quality of life for all of us. Composting is each person’s small contribution to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Posthole Composting A Summary

Posthole composting is not only inexpensive and ecologically sound, posthole composting may be the perfect option for gardeners but may have limited space, time, resources, and energy! There is no right or wrong in posthole composting, but rather it is simply part of nature’s recycling program. Posthole composting’s creates homemade fertilizer, which provides your garden with the nutrients needed to thrive and grow. You are just facilitating the decomposition process. Happy composting!

Northern Meteorological Seasons – Everything You Should Know

The classification of the calendar in four groups of three months based on the prevailing temperature conditions is said called Meteorological seasons. This is a more precise way of segmenting the year.

So what are these seasons, and why are these seasons important? In this piece, we will try finding some answers to those questions. According to meteorological studies, all the seasons start on the first day of all months that either includes a solstice or an equinox. Based on the above, the seasons are grouped as:

  • The Spring season starts from March 1st to May 31st.
  • The summer season starts from June 1st to August 31st.
  • The Fall or Autumn starts from September 1st to November 30th.
  • The Winter that runs from December 1st to February 28th or 29th.

Let’s have a closer look at these four seasons.

Spring Season (March 1st to May 31st)

After the dreadful and cold winter season, this is the most sought after time of the year. When the flowers start blooming, and the sun is out with its subtle brightness – this season truly marks the beginning of a beautiful Season. This is the season when the entire landscape comes back to life. The sunlight is strong, and the temperatures begin to rise slightly and the days start to get longer. The weather can change from sunny to dry to wet in a moment during this season. This season is truly the season that catches every romantics’ attention.

In this season, you will find some trees blossoming and many low growing plants full of beautiful flowers. This is the time when all animals that had gone into their winter hibernation come out of their hideouts to enjoy the season. Many other animals and birds return home from their winter venues and start their breeding. Overall the weather is extremely pleasant, and there are glistening greenery and colorful blossoms and flowers all around.

Summer Season (June 1st to August 31st)

After the Spring follows the summers. Summer is the hottest time of the year when temperatures soar and can become uncomfortable. The temperatures may not drop much even after the sun goes down. The sky is clear, the sun is shining bright and hot, and it becomes difficult to stay out in the hot sun for long. This is, however, that time of the year when most of the game seasons are planned and played as the weather is clear. So, it is one of the high octane times of the year.

This is that time of the year when the trees are full of loads of leaves, and every plant is full of flowers. People spend most of their time outdoors enjoying the sunny days outside. You will see tourists flocking to many beach cities to catch some sunlight.

Fall or Autumn Season (September 1st to November 30th)

This is the season when the temperatures start falling again. You will see increased rainfall in some areas. This is the season when the trees start shedding their leaves. Many high altitude animals start growing fur as a preparation for the upcoming winter season, and many gain weight before they can get into a long winter season sleep called hibernation.

In this season, plants become less active and get dormant. This season witnesses some cultural harvest festivals, and in America, Thanksgiving is an important homecoming festival celebrated in this season.

Winter Season (December 1st to February 29th)

Here comes the season of chills. This is the coldest season characterized by short days and long cold nights. Trees lose their leaves and get inactive and dormant during the winter. Many animals enter a state of hibernation and start their deep sleep. Other animals move or migrate to warmer regions. People need to wear thick clothes to keep themselves warm. The winds are freezing and brings ice and snow or even cold rains at times.

This is that phase and time of the year when every creature – animal, plants, life takes a backseat. The landscape and the scenery go in a state of slumber, and many places get covered with snow or ice.

Conclusion

Knowing about these seasons is extremely important for many aspects of human lives. Knowing about the weather and its patterns beforehand helps in planning crops and their harvesting, horticulture, and garden planning, and to stay prepared for storms and bad weather or any eventualities.

So now that you are aware of these four weather seasons, you will now be able to plan things better based on the season. So next time when you plan a holiday or want to go to watch a game, you would know when to plan one.

Cooking – Sour Cream Vs. Yogurt

Sour Cream Vs. Yogurt

There are many adults, even among cooks, who don’t know the difference between sour cream and yogurt. As such, we are here to clarify this common misconception.

There are quite a few dairy products that are white and sour, as such, it is not so strange that there is oftentimes quite a lot of confusion. And if we are completely honest, sour cream and yogurt can be hard to differentiate from the distance. However, taking a closer look, they do differ in texture, smell, taste, and, most importantly, in their behavior when used in cooking.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a fermented dairy cream. By introducing a specific type of bacterial culture to the dairy cream, the fermentation process is initiated. During the process, bacteria produce acid, flavor, and add thickness. The process is stopped by re-pasteurizing the cream and essentially killing the bacteria.

Bacteria used to turn cream into sour cream: Streptococcus cremoris, Leuconostoc dextranicum, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc citrovorum, and Streptococcus diacetilactis.

What is Yogurt?

The yogurt-making process is very similar to the one described above; however, the initial ingredient is not dairy cream but milk and different type of bacteria are used. In addition, the types of bacteria used to make yogurt don’t require re-pasteurization.

Bacteria used to turn milk into yogurt: Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus bugaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus helveticus.

The Main Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt

Yogurt is very high in nutritional value compared to sour cream. It also contains way less fat and is as such a healthier choice. On average, there is about 10% of fat in yogurt and twice as much in sour cream.

Cold Dishes

As yogurt and sour cream are rather similar, they are interchangeable when applied in cold dishes or used as a garnish. Though, you should keep in mind that yogurt is normally tangier than sour cream.

Cooking

When the thermal process takes place, things are not that simple and yogurt and sour cream can’t be interchanged as freely as with cold dishes. Greek yogurt is still a good substitution, as long as you pay extra attention when simmering it.

Other Sour Cream Substitutions

Aside from Greek Yogurt, you can use buttermilk or soymilk and thicken them with softened butter to replace sour cream. Cottage cheese and cream cheese are other alternatives. Another interesting option is unsweetened evaporated milk with vinegar or lemon juice. There are also vegan sour cream alternatives available or can be made at home from scratch.

Is a Steelhead a Trout or a Salmon?

What Is A Steelhead?

Steelheads also called ‘Rainbow Trout’ or ‘Steelhead Trout’, these species of fish are found in both freshwater and ocean bodies of water in North America and also Siberia in Asia. The fish are great migrators who as juveniles emigrate to the ocean water before returning to freshwater during the summer months in rivers, streams, and lakes.

This species of fish love habitats that are full of plants, gravel and anything else they can use to hide their eggs from predators until they hatch by themselves during the summer seasons. Once the fish hatch, they soon begin their journey towards the northern regions of the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Siberia.

Known to be a very aggressive fish which is great for fishermen as they can use a wide variety of bait and also they have to spend less time waiting around for the fish to bite the bait despite the fish not expending a lot of energy on hunting after they have just spawned.

Steelheads are a fish that is found through North America in the United States, Canada as well as Russia. This species of fish is also well known for going deep into United States territory in rivers and lakes in states such as Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

What Is A Salmon?

Salmon is another ‘anadromous’ fish that lives both in salt and freshwater which is quite an amazing feat since few fishes can live in both environments as they are such diverse habitats that the cells of most fish will simply burst and they will also suffer from psychological issues. There are many species of Salmon with 9 species currently being recognized. A very smart fish that is known for returning to the exact rivers and streams where they originally spawned years ago.

Juvenile Salmon tend to be a different color compared to when they mature, with the most well-known species of Salmon being originally light blue with a silver head when they are fresh spawns before eventually turning bright red or orange with a green head. Despite being tasty when smoked, Salmon is a great fish to try and catch when fishing due to their rarity, catching them is a fun challenge to embark on.

Salmon are found throughout the world with the fish migrating into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In the United States, these fish are found in the Salish Sea, Alaska and other states including Washington, Montana, Idaho and South Dakota to name a few.

What Is A Trout?

Trout is a name for a large number of species of fish that live in freshwaters but can also be found migrating to salt waters. They feed on other smaller fish, insects found in water and on land as well as plankton with Trout itself is a very popular edible fish in Europe.

Species of Trout are a common species for fishing in rivers, streams, and lakes around the world. Ice fishing is also a popular way to fish for Trout particularly in rivers, streams, and lakes in Canada and Alaska and other northern parts of the mainland of the United States.

Trouts are a fish that are found all over the world in Asia, Europe and of course North America with species of Trout also being introduced to other parts of the world such as Australia and New Zealand by European settlers in the 19th and 20th centuries quickly becoming some of the dominant species of fish in those areas.

Are Both Salmon And Steelhead, Trout?

Salmon is just one of a number of species of fish that fall under the collective name of Trout.  Some people even use the term ‘Salmon Trout’ which is officially an incorrect term as Salmon is just a type of Trout. Due to the different ways of life and behavior as well as the taste of their meat, many people think that Salmon is a separate species to Trout.

All this confusion does not go away with Steelheads, which are also a type of Trout but are confused by some people of being a type of Salmon due to their very similar behaviors with the biggest being that they take on large ocean migrations while most Trout species do not. Furthermore, due to spending a lot of time out at sea their meat has a very similar look and taste to Salmon. Despite this, Steelheads are currently an endangered species, unlike Salmon which has a large healthy population due to the fish species being widely farmed.

Conclusion

To conclude, Salmon and Steelhead are both two separate species that are part of the Trout family of fish which are known for always returning to spawn in the same areas with confusions arising due to some species of Trout such as Salmon and Steelheads migrating from the usual fresh water habitats of Trout to salt water environments.

What To Know About Rainbow Trout?

1. What Is A Rainbow Trout?

A rainbow trout is a cold-water fish found in the freshwater streams and lakes in the entire Northern Hemisphere in North America and Asia. Rainbow trouts living in different regions have different colors and have acquired different names such as rainbow, bow, steelhead, silver, and Kamloops trout.

Rainbow Trout Characteristics

Rainbow trouts are about 16 to 30 inches long and weigh between 2 and 16 pounds. They have an elongated and compressed body ending with a squared tail. They have different colors among fishes in different regions. All trouts have a maximum of 12 anal finned rays. They usually have a dark back with shades which are either steel blue or green to brown in color. Their cheeks and sides are silver in color and with a red or pink stripe that runs through their lateral sides, all along or a part of the body. They have a silver-white belly and speckled with dark spots on their back of the body. Rainbow trouts usually change their color during spawning periods.

Rainbow Trout Food

Rainbow trouts are strict carnivores and feed on other fishes, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and small trouts as well. Young trouts feed on insects, worms crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. Rainbow trouts can travel to long distances in search of food. When food s scarce, they can feed on insect larvae, fish eggs, and pupae.

Rainbow Trout Habitat

Rainbow trouts are cold-water fishes that live in freshwater, creeks, lakes, small and large rivers, estuaries and oceans. They can collectively use some or all these habitats, which has water which is clear, clean and cold. It has great ability to swim up and down the streams which enable them to sustain in a wide variety of habitats, migrate to long distances for food and spawning.

Rainbow Trout Sustainability

They have the ability to thrive in hatcheries which enabled them to be introduced in many streams and lakes across the US. It also has great popularity as a recreational sport fish among the anglers. However, the change of vegetation, soil erosion, man-made constructions like dams, roads cause obstruction for rainbow trouts to swim up and downstream, which has led to a significant drop in their numbers.

2. Are Rainbow Trout And Steelhead The Same Species?

Rainbow trouts and steelheads are of the same species of trout. They both are ray-finned fish from the Salmon family, but they have a different style of living. Rainbow trouts mostly spend their entire part of life in freshwater, while a steelhead mostly lives in the seas and oceans and move into rivers for breeding. Due to their varying lifestyles, rainbow trout and steelheads appear different in their size and colors. Rainbow trouts have multi-hued colors and dark spots on their backs while steelheads have a more streamlined body and have silver or brass color.

Steelhead spends its first two to three years in freshwater and then spend their next two to three years in oceans. Steelheads are typically larger in size than rainbow trouts.

Both rainbow trouts and steelhead are native to North America, but they are introduced in various states and continents to diversify their habitat and numbers. Both rainbow trout and steelhead spend varying tine in freshwater at some point in their life. They both use boulders, wood, aquatic vegetation as a protective cover.

3. Where Do Rainbow Trout Spawn?

Rainbow trout start their spawning during spring season every year. They usually travel upstream and select places with small and large gravel and use small substrates to construct its nest, called redd. Rainbow trouts redds are usually located in streams which have higher water velocity and with shallow waters. Their place of selection for spawning is not affected by water temperature or sunlight.

Rainbow trouts can breed between the ages of one and five. Males have the ability to mature faster than females. Rainbow trout spawns upstream and can travel quite a distance to find a suitable location and lays its eggs in redd. The female rainbow trout uses her tail, the digs a depression in the gravel to create the redd and lays her eggs in it, covers it with gravel using its fins. A male rainbow trout releases his sperms over these redds to fertilize the eggs. These eggs hatch after four to seven weeks to produce young trouts. These young hatched touts are called sac fry, and as they start growing, they develop dark vertical bars on their sides.

Unlike a salmon fish, a rainbow trout never dies after spawning. It returns to the freshwater and continues to spawn again in the next spawning season.

Conclusion

A rainbow trout is a versatile and widely available fish throughout the year. It is one of the top five sporting fish in North America for its attractive and vibrant color. It is also grown commercially in farms for food. Consuming a rainbow trout provides to you many vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, and nutrients to you. They are also rich sources of potassium for your body.

They are widely distributed and bred in artificial water bodies. As they are available in large numbers, they are not endangered nor become extinct in the near future. However, excessive fishing for recreation, man-made constructions, climatic changes are affecting the breeding and survival habitats of the rainbow trouts. There are few non-profit organizations like Trout Unlimited in North America which are dedicated to the conservation and development of rainbow trouts.

Before you speak, listen

Writing and The Written Word

Before you speak, listen. 
Before you write, think. 
Before you spend, earn. 
Before you invest, investigate. 
Before you criticize, wait. 
Before you pray, forgive. 
Before you quit, try. 
Before you retire, save. 
Before you die, give.

William Arthur Ward

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THE BLUEBIRD

Writing and The Written Word

I know the song that the bluebird is singing,
Out in the apple-tree where he is swinging;
Brave little fellow, the skies may look dreary;
Nothing cares he while his heart is so cheery.

Hark! how the music leaps out from his throat,
Hark! was there ever so merry a note?
Listen awhile and you’ll hear what he’s saying,
Up in the apple-tree swinging and swaying.

“Dear little blossoms down under the snow,
You must be weary of winter, I know;
Hark, while I sing you a message of cheer;
Summer is coming and spring-time is here!

“Little white snowdrop! I pray you arise;
Bright yellow crocus! come, open your eyes;
Sweet little violets, hid from the cold,
Put on your mantles of purple and gold;
Daffodils! daffodils! say, do you hear?—
Summer is coming and spring-time is here!”

–Emily Huntington Miller

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