More Composting Tips

by Cindy Pantea

Awhile ago I wrote a post about my Grandma, who was a recycler and composter. Her way of composting, though, was to keep her food scraps in the coffee can underneath her sink and then add them to her garden when the can was full.

As Polly, our Flowerscape Director, and composting experts will tell you, however, it is not a good idea to put food scraps directly into your garden due to the acidity of the decaying materials.

Actually, it is best to mix already composted materials with the natural soil on your property/in your garden, and it will help keep the soil moist for your plants.

Normally people do not even get that far because just the idea of a compost pile scares them. They think it smells.

But I am here to tell you again that compost piles do not smell if done correctly. And it is simple. Basically equal parts of green material and dirt or other brown materials are going to keep the compost from smelling at all.

To prove this, allow me and our President & CEO, Paula Davis, share something that Paula took from her HGTV Magazine this month. It is written by Daryl Beyers who gives us specific suggestions for green and brown materials that make for the best compost.

Green materials being: fruit ends and peels, fruit cores, corn cobs, vegetable ends and peels, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grouds and tea bags.

Brown materials being: peanut shells, twigs, leaves, toilet paper rolls, shredded paper towels and paper, cooked pasta (without butter or oils), and plain popcorn (without butter or oils).

DO NOT COMPOST: Meat, milk cheese butter, yogurt, oils, salad dressing or dog poop.

Here are the directions from Beyers:

  1. Put ingredients in an outdoor compost bin or a pile in your yard that will get four to six hours of sun a day. (Note: Compost housed in a bin can be ready in 30 days while it may take a few months for a pile of compost to be ready.)
  2. Add a shovelful of garden soil then mix every week or two by turning the materials with your shovel or pitch fork. (Note: The more you mix, the faster it will be ready.)
  3. Add water if the compost seems dry.

The compost is done when it looks dark, rich and fluffy with no recognizable materials, except for maybe a piece of a leaf or twig.

The picture article is shown below. Click on the picture and zoom in for better viewing capabilities.

composting tips for a no smell compost




How To Plant A Self-Sustaining Garden

By: Ashley Foutty, Keep Akron Beautiful Intern

A self-sufficient garden takes proper planning and execution in order to be successful. The great part about this? A garden can practically take care of itself as long as the soil is healthy, the seeds are reused, and organic material is produced. Gardening can be very time consuming, and with a busy schedule, it can seem impossible!

sustainable gardening

Here are some helpful tips for planting a self-sustaining garden:

1. Start with soil. Healthy soil is key. The soil must have a proper pH level, correct texture and composition, and be full of nutrients. Adding compost will enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.


2. Maintain proper soil consistency. The ideal ratio is 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. This perfect balance can help proper root formation and promote better drainage.


3. Test the pH. A neutral pH level is typically ideal for growing vegetables. You can buy a pH tester from a gardening center to see where your garden pH level stands.


4. Know the growing season. Vegetables should be planted during the season in which they thrive. For example, peas, beets, and cabbage are cold temperature veggies.


5. Purchase quality seeds. Use fresh seeds, parcticularly ones that have been harvested from your own garden the previous year. If this is not the case, purchase seeds online from a retailer who specialized in vegetable seeds, or go to your nearest garden center.


6. Start seedlings indoors. Work with your seeds inside in order to monitor their growth and care for them more easily. Once they are stable enough for the elements, carefully transport them outside.

See other blogs about sustainable gardening and landscaping.

Keep Akron Beautiful’s Community Pride Trailer Helps Feed Hungry

by Cindy Pantea

Today and tomorrow, with the help of Keep Akron Beautiful’s Community Pride Trailer, PRO-MIX® growing mixes, and Canton Road Garden Center, wonderful Akron volunteers such as firefighters, Girl Scouts, church youth groups and high school students, will turn an Akron neighborhood vacant lot into a food forest.

What is a food forest?

A food forest (similar to sustainable landscaping or gardening) is a technique that mimics the way things grow in nature by substituting trees with bushes, shrubs, herbs and vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans.

With the creation of this food forest in Akron, called “The New Glendale Garden,” 20 families will have access to fresh grown food and learn how to live sustainable lives.

In addition, a designated spot called “grow a row for the hungry” will be used to grow produce that will be donated to the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank.

The New Glendale Garden

The New Glendale Garden is currently a vacant lot near the Glendale steps. An interesting fact is that this area was an unfinished WPA project from the depression era.

In The New Glendale Garden will be a designated spot called “grow a row for the hungry.” Whatever food is yielded in this area will be donated to the Akron Regional Food Bank.

New Glendale Garden Volunteer Schedule

On May 10, the Keep Akron Beautiful Trailer is scheduled to arrive at The New Glendale Garden at 3:30 p.m. Subsequently, at 5 p.m., a $4000 donation of growing mixes from PRO-MIX arrives for volunteers to unload. Then, on May 11, tilling the soil begins.

If you would like to help with this garden feel free to join in by showing up at the vacant lot next to S. Walnut Street Akron, OH 44303 or contact 330-338-0011.

Much of this information from taken from Pro Mix Release for Akron. Thank you Leah Haugh from Garden Media Group for passing along this information. Keep Akron Beautiful is proud to be named along with PRO-MIX, Canton Road Garden Center, and the amazing volunteers on such a worthwhile project.



Landscapes of the Future: Sustainable Landscaping

By Cindy Pantea

Native grasses and plants for sustainable landscaping at homeHow about adding a field of native grasses and flowers to your landscaping to eliminate mowing? Or really planning to preserve what’s already on your property – tree for shade and natural streams – and then adding plants that will serve to feed yourself, the soil and insects?

That was the subject of last night’s presentation at the Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability (GAINS). GAINS is a group of business professionals who promote sustainability efforts in Akron.

The presentation, Paint Your Lawn Green – Sustainable Landscaping Techniques, was given by married couple and business partners, Samuel L. Salsbury, FAPLD, and Sabrena Schweyer, FAPLD, of Salsbury-Schweyer, Inc.

Sabrena, the plants expert, shared her knowledge about edible and natural landscaping. Samuel , the water expert, spoke about bettering combined sewer overflow systems (CSOs) and rainwater harvesting.

We learned from Samuel that having a combined sewer overflow system (rainwater and sewer), like ours here in Akron, means that in heavy storms, the combination rainwater and sewer flows into our rivers – contaminating them. Until such time as infrastructures can be built to store overflow water until it can be treated, it helps to be able to keep rainwater on your property, through rain gardens, wetlands, green roofs and rainwater harvesting (rain barrels), which can provide bioswales and help reduce overflow problems.

From Sabrena, we learned that certain plants and grasses can help with the absorption of rainwater. We also learned that we should copy the beauty of a natural landscape. After all, nature doesn’t plant in solid masses, so diversify. Plant in layers for direct benefit to humans, plant in areas of direct benefit to soil and wildlife, and choose plants that serve multiple purposes.

It’s called permaculture. It’s all about rethinking design, say these experts, and living more gently and in harmony with the earth. Do this instead of only inventing gadgets that, yes, aim to help but put only a band-aid on the larger environmental problems at hand – namely global warming.

But what will the neighbors or homeowner’s association say about my tall native grass field?

Nothing if they’re serious about the environment and conservation, and Samuel and Sabrena have had these conversations before – they won.

Meanwhile, this type of landscaping it is exactly what the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency advocates when it comes to the Conservation Reserve Program. In fact, the photo for this blog was taken from the USDA FSA Conservation Programs site, and it included this caption: Small CRP field enhanced with native grasses and flowers makes a lovely addition to the neighborhood.

It’s time for creative thinking in landscape design. I invite you to check out the site, and especially the portfolio page of Salsbury-Schweyer, Inc. You will absolutely fall in love with the natural beauty.

Thank you to GAINS for allowing me to talk about the Summit of Sustainability.

Find out more about GAINS. They’re on LinkedIn and Facebook!