Milford Community Gardens, located next to the Milford Armory Community Building, recently received two donations designed to educate the community on farming methods that protect the environment as well as provide additional options for those who use the gardens to enjoy them throughout the year. Josh Nash and Mike Rivera built a 3-bin composting structure from pallets donated by a local citizen. In addition, Cyndee and John Sammons donated an 8-by-6 foot greenhouse.
“The composting system was in my original plan for the garden last season, but we tackled other projects, like building 11 raised beds, an herb garden and a produce stand,” Nancy Saxon said. “I wanted to illustrate a basically free way to fertilize our soil, introduce alternatives to chemicals and demonstrate the importance of soil health and beneficial organisms. Americans put approximately one pound of food in the trash each day. Organic waste in landfill does not have a chance to decompose, so it releases a large amount of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The way to help cut down on these gases is composting.”
Nash and Rivera created a composting system made up of three stalls that have sliding gates for ease of access. The first is composed of layered green and brown material. According to Saxon, green materials include fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, plant trimmings, grass clippings and manure, although dog and cat manure is not included. Brown materials include dried leaves, straw, hay, cornstalks, wood chips, shredded branches, pine needles, coffee filters, newspaper, cotton fabric, corrugated cardboard, ash, nut shells, sawdust and twigs. The goal is to have twice as much green material as brown, Saxon explained.
“With additional moisture and air, the ingredients break down until unrecognizable,” Saxon said. “Then, it gets moved to bin two where it “cooks.” There, it shouldn’t be disturbed much and should reach temperatures between 140 and 150 degrees. After that, it is moved to bin three where the temperature drops, the compost resembles soil and it is ready to use. This year, the composting system will only be available to our gardeners and will be monitored until there is a full understanding of how the process works. We would like to hold a workshop in the future to demonstrate its use.”
Saxon explained that anyone who is interested in starting a composting system at home should keep in mind that bones, meats, eggs, anything cooked in oil, dairy products, even lettuces that have been in dressing are not acceptable in compost material. Eggshells are acceptable but should not be crushed. All items should be relatively the same size. Once the compost is ready, it is nitrogen and carbon rich making it perfect fertilizer around plants. Saxon stated that it can be used once or twice a year.
“When we were presented with a check from the Milford Elks Lodge #2401 last year, the Sammons’ brought to our attention that they had a greenhouse they were willing to give us,” Saxon said. “the greenhouse will be a huge asset, as most of the seeds that have just arrived need a warm environment to germinate. This is especially helpful during the rainy spring season. Once the flats of seedlings are ready, the gardeners will share from them and any leftovers will go to a plant sale to grow funds for future gardeners.”
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Milford Community Gardens can find them on Facebook, visit their website at https://milfordcommunitygardens.worpress.com or call 302-393-5250.