May 19, 2010
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
What is composting?
Compost is a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling mixture that consists mostly of decayed organic matter. Composting is a simple, natural process-nature's way of recycling nutrients and returning them to the soil to be used again. By taking advantage of this natural recycling process, you can help lighten the load of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. Compost is used for fertilizing and conditioning soil. It can be made from materials that most households throw out:
-Yard wastes, such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, weeds and the remains of garden plants
-Kitchen scraps EXCEPT FOR meat, fish, bones and fatty foods such as cheese, oils and dressings
-Woody yard wastes, chipped or shredded, can be used as mulch or for paths, where they will eventually decompose and become compost.
Composting is an easy, practical way to recycle your organic yard and kitchen waste. Compost is an excellent soil conditioner for even the smallest yard and garden-it's safe to use, and it costs practically nothing to make. Compost helps to grow healthy plants, and healthy plants improve the air by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. For serious gardeners, compost is an inexpensive alternative to peat and other soil enhancements. DEC's Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know about Composting (PDF) (177 KB) provides additional information and tips for composting.
Looking for an adventure this summer for your teenager? Check out DEC's Environmental Education Camps.
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Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Build Your Own Composter
All you need to build a simple composter is four wooden pallets, some bailing wire and four gate latches.
1. Select a location for your composter.
2. Use the wire to connect three of the pallets, making a box with three sides.
3. Connect the last pallet using the gate latches so that you can access your compost material later.
Now you are ready to start composting. Spread a layer of plant waste 6-8 inches deep in the bottom of the bin and moisten thoroughly. Make a second layer with a few shovels of garden soil, about 1-2 inches deep. Repeat these steps until you have 4-5 layers of waste. As you add more layers throughout the summer, loosen and turn the mixture with a pitchfork.
-Pile waste material loosely in the bin.
-Use a mixture of green (fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings and coffee grounds) and brown (leaves, straw and sawdust) materials. The microorganisms use the carbon in leaves and other browns as an energy source. The nitrogen in the greens supplies the microbes with proteins to grow and multiply.
-The compost temperature should be between 90 and 140 degrees.
-Food scraps should be placed in the center of the pile to keep animals from getting to the waste.
Earthworms are very important to the health of soil and plants. As they burrow through the ground, they create airways for water drainage and oxygenation of the soil. They eat organic matter like fallen leaves, and the digested material becomes a fertilizer for the soil.
Some people make their own compost using worms in a process called vermiculture. Check with a local garden store to find out where you can purchase worms for your composter. To create your own worm composter, you need a rubber storage tote no more than two-feet deep. Drill several dozen small holes about four inches from the bottom for water drainage. Place the bin on top of some bricks on the ground. Fill your bin with thin strips of shredded newspaper or dry grass. Sprinkle a handful of dirt on top and thoroughly moisten, allowing the water to soak in for a day before adding the worms. Once you have added your worms, sprinkle the surface with water every other day, and keep the lid on the bin. Feed your worms vegetable scraps at least once a week. Add more newspaper or grass clippings once a month. After the compost is ready, put on rubber gloves, and use your hands to gently pick up some of the rich matter and place it on a piece of newspaper. Spread out the compost to separate the worms and return them to the bin to make more compost. Make sure that you don't leave the worm bin outside during the winter.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Nature Discovery After-School Program
Thursday, May 20 and 27 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM
As spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, the days grow longer, and each brings something new. Buds begin to open, and leaves unfurl, migratory birds return, and animal babies show their faces to the world. For school-aged children and their caregivers.
Guided Nature Walk
Saturday, May 22 and 29 at 10:00 AM
Spring is here! Migrating birds are returning from the south. Flowers are starting to bloom. Come join us as we take a leisurely walk on a trail and celebrate their return.
Plant and Animal Diversity Search at Stony Kill
Saturday May 22 at 2:00 PM
We will search the woods, fields and lawns of Stony Kill for comparisons of plant and animal life. Along the way, we will take note of some invasive species and consider how they might be affecting local species. Meet at the Manor House.
Spring Farm Trail Walk
Saturday, May 29 at 2:00 PM
Join us for a relaxed walk on Stony Kill's farm trail. Learn about succession in old fields and the plant and animal life that inhabit this ecosystem.
Girl Scout Frogwatch
Friday, May 21 at 7:00 PM
Frogs and other amphibians are disappearing around the world. Join us to learn more about the frogs in our area. We will head outside to look and listen for these fascinating creatures, then come inside to learn more details about our local amphibians. Registration by May 19 is required, and space is limited. Call Five Rivers at 518-475-0291 to register your troop.
Five Rivers' Animals
Saturday, May 22 at 10:00 AM
Ever wonder about the live animals in Five Rivers' exhibit room-what they eat and where they came from? Come and learn about the center's animals and how we care for them, and then take a walk to see whether we can find their cousins in the wild. This interactive program will cover turtles, fish, crayfish, snakes and birds.
Worms and Composting
Saturday, May 22 at 2:00 PM
Under ground and in your garden is a whole world made just for worms! Join Five Rivers staff in an interactive and fun-filled exploration of the world of worms and composting. An outdoor walk will explore the benefits of composting with worms.
What's the Buzz?
Saturday, May 29 at 10:00 AM
The honey bee is the only insect that makes a food that people eat. We also use bee products to waterproof our tents, soften our lips and light the darkness. This indoor presentation on the natural history of the honey bee will include a walk to the center's active bee hive, followed by a craft using beeswax. Materials fee: Friends of Five Rivers members $1.00; non-members $3.00.
What's Bugging You?
Saturday, May 29 at 2:00 PM
The sun is warmer, the days are longer, the flowers are coming up-and the bugs are back! On our walk, we'll seek places where insects have overwintered, look for places they are hiding and feeding and collect some for a closer look.
Wild Blue Lupine Flower Walk
Saturday, May 22 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Do you know why the wild blue lupine is so vital to the Albany Pine Bush and the survival of the Karner Blue Butterfly? Join us for an hour hike over rolling terrain to explore Karner Blue butterfly habitat and discover wild blue lupine. Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirt, sturdy walking shoes and bring a drink. Arrive ten minutes early to purchase your ticket. Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Spring Wildflower Walk
Saturday, May 22 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Join VIC staff for a peek at the early bloomers of Spring. Learn about the survival strategy of these wildflowers. Call 518-582-2000 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Saturday, May 29 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Frank Lescinsky, one of the VIC's talented volunteers, will present his slide show about some of the woodland wildflowers in the Adirondacks. After the program, join us on walk on the trails to observe the wildflowers in bloom.
Sala-meandering at Cush Hill
Saturday, May 22 at 10:00 AM
Meander the trails at Cush Hill while exploring rocks, logs and other things where salamanders live in hiding. Learn how to find these clever critters and how they survive. Call 607-674-4017 to register. Paddle the Chenango Canal
Saturday, May 29 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Explore the plants and wildlife along this beautiful canal in Hamilton. Equipment provided, or bring your own. Cost: $5 non-refundable fee per paddler. Please call to register; space is limited.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursday, May 20 and 27 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun, outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K-5. No registration is required.
Butterflies of Royalty
Saturday, May 22 at 11:00 AM
Search for monarch, viceroy and admiral butterflies on this guided walk. We will also discuss methods for attracting these beautiful creatures to your backyard.
Full-Flower Moon Walk
Thursday, May 27 at 8:00 PM
Enjoy a walk at the time of year when flowers bloom during the day and the moon "blooms" at night.
Saturday, May 29 at 10:00 AM
Embrace the spring season by taking a walk to learn about New York's wild flowers that grow at Reinstein Woods. For adults and children ages 8 and older.