Archive for the ‘Composting’ Category

Keiki Garden Adventure

October 7th, 2014
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Keiki planted herbs and vegetables into a patch of rich soil at The Green House. Photo by Nina Wu.

Keiki planted herbs and vegetables directly into a patch of rich soil at The Green House. Photos by Nina Wu.

Gardening seems like a natural hit for keiki — get your hands dirty, hold earthworms and learn how plants grow. I spend more time writing about gardens than actually gardening myself (I need more time - that's my excuse). My four-year-old likes to tag along, help water the few native plants and pots of herbs in our yard and pick lemons from our tree.

So when The Green House  held it's hands-on Keiki Garden Adventure workshop on a recent Saturday in Pauoa Valley, I decided to sign up. It made for a fun Saturday morning. My son was shy, at first, but when I asked if he had fun later that afternoon, he said: "Yah!"

Here are a few tips I learned:

>> When planning an edible garden, think about what will grow based on sunlight, soil composition and moisture. Observe what's growing well in your neighborhood to get an idea — bananas, papayas, citrus, avocados, sweet potatoes all do well in a tropical climate.

>> You can create healthy soil through composting and sheet mulching. No matter what type of soil you have, adding compost and vermicast to poor soil will improve overall soil quality.

>> When taking a plant out of a pot, using  your fingers to fluff out the end roots is helpful before planting in the ground. You want to plant it just right, not too low, not too high, to make it happy

>> Ecoscraps, an all-organic compost mix, is available at Home Depot. This mix is made from a variety of composted fruits and veggies, with no chemicals. It was started by two college students, Daniel Blake and Craig Martineau, who noticed how much food was being wasted at an all-you-can buffet –what began as a dorm room project grew into a business venture.

Betty shows the keiki some examples of seeds, explaining how they grow into plants.

Betty shows the keiki some examples of seeds, explaining how they grow into plants.

Betty Gearen, the teacher, started the morning by having the kids shape "wormies" out of a chocolate-cinnamon dough that she later baked up as a yummy treat.

She brought out a few examples of seeds and explained how they grew. Then the kids got to get their hands dirty making "seed balls" — a mix of soil, compost, and a little clay — sprinkled with various flower seeds. Add water and shape into small balls. A reused paper egg carton makes the perfect container.

Drill three holes into a plastic gallon container and you've got a watering can.

The Green House is now offering the new EcoExplorer Learning Center for two to five-year-olds from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"With the Aina as our playground and Mother Nature as our guide we have created an innovative place where keiki will blossom in a fun, safe, nurturing eco-environment that has been created just for them to imagine, wonder and explore.

Keiki will learn creative arts, literature, math, cooking, gardening and yoga through the center, which embraces Montessori and Waldorf philosophies. To learn more, contact program director Karla Meek, karla@thegreenhousehawaii.com.

Keiki examining peeled beans under magnifiying glasses.

Keiki take a close look at peeled beans to see how seeds grow and examine the soil with magnifying glasses to find useful bugs.

Earth Day 2014

April 13th, 2014
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www.outlook.noaa.gov/earthday/

www.outlook.noaa.gov/earthday/

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

While 1970 was the "height of the hippie and flower-child culture in the United States," according to the Earth Day Network, 2014 is an era of social media, solar power and genetically modified organisms.

Global warming, or climate change, was, and is, still an issue.

Do a google search for "Earth day 1970" and  you find black-and-white images of demonstrations, rallies and a nationwide Environmental Teach-In over clean water and air. I like the ones portrayed in this  National Geographic story on the first Earth Day. It was definitely not a time of apathy.

Today, many start celebrating Earth Day early, with events scheduled throughout Earth Month. There are plenty of ways to learn more or get involved on Oahu, whether you want to start a worm compost, participate in a beach cleanup or recycle your electronics.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa hosts an all-day festival at its symbolic Sustainability Courtyard. Former U.S. vice president Al Gore delivers a free lecture at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday, April 15, while environmental activist Bill McKibben speaks at the Art Auditorium April 24.

Check out one of the events below.

EARTH DAY EVENTS IN APRIL

April 13

Worm composting workshop. April 13, 6:30 p.m. and April 15, 9 a.m., Nuuanu Congregational Church, 2651 Pali Highway, Kosasa Hall. The church’s Ula Wai ministry offers two free community sessions on vermicomposting by Ralph Rhoads of Bellingham, Wash. Reservations required by emailing Velma, kimoment2@hawaiiantel.net or calling 595-3135 after 7 p.m..

April 15

Al Gore lecture, 7 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.), Tuesday, April 15. Stan Sherriff Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Former U.S. vice president Al Gore offers a free lecture on campus, sharing his insights on climate change and related topics and how they relate to Hawaii. Organized by the UH Sea Grant College Program of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, joinly with the office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. Free, but tickets are required and can be picked up from the Stan Sherriff Center Ticket office, 956-4483.

April 16 

Mala Ho‘olaule‘a, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Honolulu Community College, 874 Dillingham Blvd., behind the Children’s Center. Celebrate the harvest of The Garden of Niuhelewai, a taro patch, planted three years ago on campus. Hawaiian music, poi pounding. Call 845-9211.

April 19

Earth Day Ahupua‘a Cleanup, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 19. Kualoa Ranch. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is organizing a beach cleanup of several coastlines to celebrate Earth Day. Participants can also help rebuild fish ponds, do stream restoration work or native plantings. Check in at Kualoa Ranch at 8:30 a.m. to participate in cleanups at Kualoa Beach, Kalama Beach Park, Kahuku Beach and Laie Beach Park. You may also go directly to the beach location. Festival with lunch and live music follows at Kualoa Ranch from noon to 3 p.m. Partners include Hui o Ko‘olaupoko, Paepae o He‘eia and Papahana Kualoa. Visit www.fb.com/sustainablecoastlineshawaii for updates.

EarthDayCleanup

April 19 

Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Waikiki Aquarium. Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services and state Department of Health Clean Water Branch present the seventh annual Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo. Visit educational booths, learn about the impact we make on water sources from Mauka to Makai, watch a live rain garden demonstration and take pictures with Apoha the oopu and friends. Free admission, prizes and native plant giveaways by the Hawaiian Electric Co. Free parking and shuttle from Waikiki Elementary School. Call 923-9741 or visit www.waikikiaquarium.org.

April 19

Kaka‘ako Community Cleanup, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Shidler Group, Team Hawaii Going Green, Kaka‘ako Improvement Association and others are organizing the third annual Kaka‘ako Community Cleanup. Free validated parking at Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana Blvd. (entrance on Pohukaina St.). Cleaning, painting supplies and refreshments provided. Starts at Mother Waldron Park, ends at Waterfront Plaza. RSVP to Steve Sullivan, ssullivan@shidler.com or 532-4751. Visit www.fb.com/events/648168028565920 for event details.

April 22

Earth Day

10 a.m. to noon, Hawaii State Capitol. Community clean energy rally sponsored by the Blue Planet Foundation. Join Hawaii's youth as they rally a future beyond fossil fuels. Visit  www.fb.com/blueplanetfoundation for details and updates.

April 24

UH MANOA EARTH DAY FESTIVAL & CONCERT 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. April 24, Sustainability Courtyard, University of Hawaii at Manoa. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Earth Day Festival: Visit more than 40 booths from student groups, local non-profits and green businesses. Plant sale, music, poetry, locally sourced food. 4 to 6 p.m. Celebratory reception. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Environmental activist Bill McKibben’s free lecture at the Art Auditorium. 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Free concert by Mike Love, Sam Ites, Lucie Lynch and slam poet Jenna Robinson. Visit manoa.hawaii.edu/earthday or www.fb.com/uhmearthday.

earthday-v5

April 26

Eat Your Yard! Edible Landscaping Workshop. 10 to 12:30 p.m.. The Green House, 224 Pakohana St. Organic gardener and permaculturist Tia Silvasy will lead this class focusing on growing food instead of grass. Explore the types of plants brought to Hawaii by many ethnic groups such as cassava, banana, taro, sweet potato, lemongrass, sugarcane and coconut. Cuttings and starts will also be shared. Fee is $30. Advanced registration required. Call 524-8427 or visit www.thegreenhousehawaii.com.

April 26

Green Day eWaste Recycling, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nu‘uanu Congregational Church, 2651 Pali Highway. Pacific Corporate Solutions is accepting desktop and laptop computers, LCD monitors, printers, fax machines, keyboards, mice, servers, routers, DVD players, VCRs, cell phones, stereo equipment, video cameras, cables and more for recycling. No TVs or alkaline batteries. Free. Call 488-8870 for more information.

Malama Pupukea-Waimea Marine Science Talk Story, 5-7 p.m., Sunset Beach Recreation Center, 59-540 Kamehameha Highway. Learn the current science about Pupukea-Waimea Marine Life Conservation District. Light pupus and refreshments will be provided. Contact Jenny Yagodich, jenny@pupukeawaimea.org or visit www.pupukeawaimea.org for more inforamtion.

My Bokashi Bucket

February 20th, 2012
By



Here is my Bokashi Bucket, filled with apple, banana peels and rice.

Here is my Bokashi Bucket, filled with apple and banana peels, old rice and macaroni.

Since writing about Throw To Grow, I've decided to give the Bokashi Bucket a try.

The Bokashi Bucket, in case you haven't heard of it, is an anaerobic composting system that ferments your food waste (including meat, dairy and bones) into rich, gardening soil. It's basically a 5-gallon bucket tucked inside of another one with a spigot that you can keep indoors in your kitchen.

Each One Teach One Farms entrepreneur Jim DiCarlo sells the bucket systems at Haleiwa, Ala Moana and Hawaii Kai Farmers' Markets. You can also find them at Kale's Natural Foods and the North Shore Organic Gardening in Waialua.

If you're handy, you could probably pick up two buckets from Lowe's, Home Depot or City Mill and make the system yourself, except for the activator mix (basically bran mixed with molasses and microorganisms), which is a more involved process. Jim sells a jar of the mix for just $5 at farmers' markets.

What I like about it, so far, is that it seems easy to use.

I keep my bucket on a little step stool in the kitchen, next to the trash can. Once a day, or once every other day, you take your food scraps, open the lid up, toss them in and close the lid again. When the food scraps are at about three inches, you take your jar of bokashi activator mix (basically bran mixed with microorganisms and molasses) and sprinkle some on top.

I wouldn't say it's completely odorless. Hopefully I'm doing it right, but there is definitely a sort of sweet and sour, pickled smell every time I open up the bucket.

It's not pleasant, but it's not horribly unpleasant, either. My husband says he can tell every time I open the lid, because he gets a whiff, but it usually goes away after we turn on the kitchen ceiling fan for a few minutes.

So far, I've thrown all kinds of stuff in the bucket — orange peels, avocado and banana peels, apple cores, celery, ginger, egg shells, old pasta, old rice, a whole head of lettuce that went bad, a whole box of granola cereal (that some ants had gotten into), a whole rotisserie chicken carcass and salmon skin.

The word "bokashi" has turned into a verb in our household. Now I say, "Are you done with this? Should I bokashi it?"

My bucket is about half full, so far. When you open up the bucket, you won't see any transformation of the food yet. Apparently that happens after it all goes into the ground.

So far, so good.

Some things that are good to know: You want to only add fresh, not rotten (or moldy) food or it will smell. It's a good idea to place a paper or ceramic plate on top to basically compress all the air down. It's best also to keep the bucket away from sunlight.

For more tips on using the Bokashi Bucket, go to eachoneteachonefarms.com/bokashi.

We have a worm composting bin, as well, in the garage, and usually I put on gloves to open the lid, move aside the shredded paper, before tossing in food scraps. Separating the worms from the vermicompost is a messy chore in itself (I make my husband do it). What's nice about the worms is that you can throw moldy stuff in there. What I find challenging is that we usually have way more food scraps than the worms can process (since we just started with a small starter kit, which took a year to grow into a small bin). I often wonder whether it might be good to invest in  a Can-O-Worms system that can take more food waste.

The bucket doesn't take up a lot of space, but seems to be able to handle the volume. So far it's not too much of a hassle to throw the food scraps in there. My dog sniffs the bucket lid with interest every time I open it, but she's not too interested in digging through it (thank goodness). I can't wait to see how this all works once the bucket contents go into the ground. Will keep you posted.

Here's a cool video from Kasha Ho at Kanu Hawaii explaining how she tried out her Bokashi Bucket: Bokashi "Unbucketing" from Kasha Ho on Vimeo.