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Scouts digging into the art of composting

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By Sandy Barnes

Singing as they piloted wheelbarrows filled with compost, members of Boy Scout Troop 888 were hard at work at the community garden in Buchanan Park on Sunday morning.

“You have to use brute force,” Dillon Mathues said to another Scout who was unloading a pile of compost they were moving.

The Scouts were learning how to create and manage compost to earn gardening merit badges and advance in their ranks. They also seemed to be having a good time while chopping discarded plants to make more compost.

“We’re moving all this dirt and chopping up compost,” said Scout Bridger Houston. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Under the supervision of Michelle Stone, service project coordinator, and Margaret Rode and Terry Walters of Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability, the Scouts were clearing a place to build five new compost bins. 

Her son Ryan is monitoring the mixing project, Stone said.

“They’re going to town working,” she remarked.

Walters explained to the Scouts how compost forms as he took the temperature of a pile that was cooking in a bin.

After vegetable scraps are mixed with straw, dried grains and other materials such as cardboard and paper towels, the mixture is watered and kept moist, Walters said. Once the compost heats to temperatures between 100 and 150 degrees, mice and other creatures stay away from it, he added.

Walters said he places a circular mesh screen at the bottom of the bin before adding composting materials to prevent small creatures from making their way into it before the mixture begins cooking.

To help the compost form, Walters said, it should be turned and watered once a week. The mixture should be ready to use between five weeks and three months later, depending on the weather, he said.

In the coming weeks when gardeners start pulling up plants as frost time approaches, there will be much material for the compost bins, Rode said. 

Rode and other EAS+Y members are giving the gardeners advice on how to protect plants from early frost and extend the growing season to a degree. One technique is to place containers of warm water beside plants, she said. The sun heats them in the daytime, and the water keeps the plants from freezing at night.

Looking at the garden, which she and other EAS+Y members worked to make a reality, Rode said it has gone far beyond expectations. The community support and participation have been gratifying, she remarked.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.