Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A bench outside Eaton Canyon Nature Center

What could get me to a workshop at 9:00 on a Saturday morning when I have an appointment at 11:30, another one at 1:30, another one at 5:00 and another one at 7:00, and somewhere in there I have to make two pies?

A $50 compost bin.

Last Saturday morning I got up early for the City of Pasadena Public Works Composting Workshop at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Gabriel Silva and Mike Lara, two delightful guys who work extremely hard and love their jobs, led a casual workshop about composting. They even brought worms, so you can imagine how fun it was. I left knowing everything I need to know to get started. I don't even have to use worms if I don't want to, so I am totally down with composting.

You can spend as much as $500 on a fancy compost bin. You can spend a lot less for a crappy one, but if you live in the City of Pasadena you can get a pretty decent one from your city for $50
AND they will deliver it to your door
AND the bin actually costs the City $52 so this is a deal.

Compost bins are delivered Mondays and Wednesdays following the receipt of your check, which you make out to the City of Pasadena and mail to:

City of Pasadena
Public Works/Recycling
P.O. Box 7115
Pasadena, CA  91109

Include your street address so they know where to deliver the bin, and indicate the drop-off location you prefer (front porch, driveway, etc.). I suggest you also put in a note saying the check is for a compost bin, and ask them to bring you a copy of their nifty little booklet, Pasadena Recycling Resources, while they're at it.

The City wants you to compost because composting can diminish your contribution to the garbage dump by as much as one half. If enough of us do it, we can decrease the rate at which we fill our landfill. Composting cuts pollution and saves the City money. And you know who the City is--it is Us.

John asked me why I got so excited (I'm really excited) about my compost bin. Well, I do love a bargain, and it's not only the compost bin. It's FREE DIRT and I make it myself! It's not your, uh, garden variety dirt, either, but nutritious, black dirt that plants particularly enjoy. Let Rumpelstiltskin turn straw into gold. I'll make my gold from garbage.

Composting information: smartgardening.com
Pasadena Public Works: 626-744-4721 or 626-744-4087.

UPDATE: for those interested, I just received email notice that a meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee will take place tonight at 6:00PM at City Hall, in Training Room SO-18 (in the basement). For ADA accessibility, use ramps to access City Hall elevator. Metered street parking is free beginning at 6:00PM. Public comment is early on the agenda (limit your comments to 3 minutes), so be on time.


Dina said...

Mazal tov! Enjoy it. Post pics.

Eleonora said...

How I want a garden...

Baci from Roma

pasadenapio said...

I'm happy you were able to attend, Petrea, especially given your busy day.

We also offer smart gardening workshops to Pasadena residents. Most are at the Salvation Army HQ on Walnut, and they're free, too, though reservations are required (www.cityofpasadena.net/savewater).

By the way, although Eaton Canyon is county property, the Nature Center and parking lot are in the Pasadena city limits, which is why we have a number of community meetings and workshops there.

lewi14 said...

That sounds interesting. Never heard of a workshop about composting. It's needful for me to visit such a workshop. I'll look about it in Stuttgart. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jean Spitzer said...

Pasadena does such cool things.

One of my favorite things about my new house is that it already had a composter set-up, nicely removed from the house.

Shell Sherree said...

I love your new word, Petrea! And what a wonderful programme. It should make a lot of plants and worms very happy.

Greg Sweet said...

I know where you can get free donkey poop to add to the mix - you just have ask: Adams' Pack Station (626) 447-7356

It works wonders and doesn't have a strong odor like steer manure.

Petrea said...

Dina, I think I'll do so. It's been so hot here (I think we got to over 110 degrees yesterday) that I haven't been able to finish putting it together yet, but I will.

Me too, Eleonora! I'm getting there in baby steps.

Thanks, PIO. In fact Saturday, I had to choose "composting" over "ground cover." It was a difficult choice. I love "Pasadena In Focus" and read every word of it when it arrives in the mail.

Steffen, I hope there's something like it in Stuttgart. If not through the city, maybe through a gardening store?

Jean, that's a selling point. Are you using it?

I hope to make plants and worms happy, too, Shell, and to transform the little beige desert I have to a lush garden.

Baby steps, like I said.

mark said...

Composting rocks.

Petrea said...

Greg, you bring up a good point: We learned that poop is good for compost only if it comes from an animal who eats a completely vegetarian diet. Meats and (meat poop) aren't recommended because they stink and attract critters.

Virginia said...

J'adore Pasadena!!!

Virginia said...

I don't think you can put rocks in compost. :)

Vanda said...

Who wouldn't wanna use worms? They are such useful, industrious little things. They turn muck into fertilizer, and you can even take them fishing with you.

Petrea said...

Ha ha, Mark and Virg!

Vanda, we'll see if I arrive at worms via my baby steps.

Bellis said...

Great title! Here's my experience with an inexpensive composter from the City. The finished compost/soil comes out the base, so I should have placed the bin on a ledge. You have to intersperse layers of garden soil and twigs with the kitchen waste, so have some garden soil nearby. You have to keep it moist, so put it near a water source. You have to turn the contents regularly, and that's hard work. Good thing I have a husband.
As his reward, he got to use all the compost for his tomato patch, and we got a bumper crop.

If I get another composter, I'll spend $$$$ on a drum that revolves, and put it close to the kitchen door, because I'm often too lazy to walk to the back of the garden.

Jean Spitzer said...

Every day. Really cuts down on trash and waste.

Petrea said...

Yes, Bellis, I'll get the rotating one when I have the big bucks. Right now I think I'll invest in a pitchfork.

I've set the bin in a nice spot in the back yard where it meets all requirements. The one I got comes with complete instructions for assembly as well as for composting. I'm going to dig a little trough in front of the door.

Jean, just from breakfast today: coffee grounds and filter, tea leaves, grapefruit rind and banana peel. I am STOKED.

Birdman said...

Me? I compost with just wire enclosure I make out of sturdy wire left behind. Nothing special.

Greg Sweet said...

I tried to stifle myself, but I just can't resist giving the link to HR 875 which effectively makes it impossible for organic gardeners to operate, and is so broad based that it does not exclude restrictions on the backyard edible plant gardener.

Susan Campisi said...

And I thought I had a busy schedule. If I ever get a house, the compost will soon follow.

It's great that Pasadena offers these composting incentives.

Sorry I missed the Hahamongna meeting tonight. Did you go?

Petrea said...

Birdman, I need to get handier with my hands and tools. Your composter sounds cool.

Fine, Greg. Let 'em come get me.

Susan, believe it or not tonight I was actually teaching a journalism class about blogging. I wish I had known about the meeting sooner, but it was only posted today to the list I read.

Gina said...

We got the same composter through the city a couple of years ago...it now holds our "finished compost" as my husband has moved on to larger composting schemes involving chicken wire and posts and a big corner of our backyard.

And those composters don't have a bottom, so whether you like or not, the worms and grubs will come right up from the soil and make a home in your compost.

Dina said...

Now you can say "Bin there, done that."

Petrea said...

Gina: Mike Lara let us know that worms would come in through the ground. I don't think it's the same as the worm composter he showed us, which was absolutely teeming with little red worms.

Are grubs good or bad? I have no idea.

Ha ha, Dina. I have been there. I finished assembling the bin yesterday and began composting.

Gina said...

Grubs are very good for compost making. Not my favorite thing to handle though - that's one of the reasons my husband is chief composter in our house.

margaret lee said...

i've been going in circles trying to find a place in pasadena to drop off my compost. i live in an apartment and have no need to compost but would still love to compost our food stuff. does anybody know of any drop off site (even your house) where i can regularly drop it off?

Petrea said...

Hi Margaret Lee, and welcome. I don't know the answer to your question but I know someone who does. Call City Hall and ask for the Public Information Office. They have all the answers and they are happy to tell you.