Posts tagged "compost"

How can I reuse or recycle broccoli stalks?

Broccoli(Ok, “reuse or recycle” probably isn’t the best term to use with these – it’s probably more “how can I use them instead of just composting them?” – but nevermind.)

The last few times I’ve bought broccoli, I’ve noticed the stalk attached to the stem seems ridiculously long compared to the head. It seems such a waste to throw it in the compost when I’ve paid by weight, so paying as much for that bit as the florets, but for some reason until last week, it didn’t occur to me to see what can be done with it.

Apparently it’s as perfectly edible as the florets but works better in soups than stir-frys or the like because it can be a bit tough so benefits from a nice long time in the pan. (This mash recipe also sounds nice: I’m all for mashes, saves all the bothersome chewing energy.)

Any other recipe suggestions for using them up? I suspect they might be a great addition to a veggie stock … anyone got a recipe?

How can I “recycle” dog poop?

DogIf you thought my fingernail question was icky a few weeks ago, you might want to look away now.

We’ve had an email from Anne, who says “my suggestion is dog poop!”:

I don’t have a fenced yard, so I walk my dog, so I have lots of little bags of dog poop. I’m told it’s not ok to use in a vegetable garden–maybe a flower garden? any other ideas?

The vegetable thing (or compost heap for use of vegetable garden thing) is because poop from carnivores or omnivores can contain harmful organisms that aren’t destroyed during the standard composting process. (Some hot composting systems claim to be able to do it but I’m not 100% convinced.)

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t want to include it in compost to be used anywhere – because the neighbourhood kids go through phases of digging in our garden and they’re not opposed to eating while doing so, and also I’m not organised enough to keep track of what’s a poo-bed and what isn’t, so would probably end up planting carrots in poo-central or something.

But that does beg the question: can anything be done with it instead of just winging it into the landfill? Any suggestions to minimise the landfill impact (biodegradable bags?)?

(Photo by Minita – I went with a picture of a cute (albeit sad) dog instead of its poo. I thought most people would prefer that. Plus, John and I just played a caption contest thing with it: “you mean I have to stop pooping until someone comes up with an answer?” etc :) )

How can I reuse or recycle disposable nappies/diapers?

Disposable nappyObviously the greener option is to use reuseable nappies but Katie emailed to say:

Did you know that the new disposable nappies are full of ‘swell gel’, it’s the same stuff you get from the garden centre to add to compost to retain moisture and costs around £5 a box.

I have started to re-use my grandson’s nappies, just the wet ones! Rinse them in the shower until all the ‘yellow’ has gone and they don’t smell.

Rip one end and squeeze them into your compost and hey presto, compost that doesn’t dry out. Ideal if you live in an area that has hose pipe bans every summer.

To be honest, I’d be worried about throwing all those petrochemicals into my compost heap because my compost heap is used pretty much entirely for my veg bed but I like the idea – but I could imagine using them at the bottom of flowers tubs in the garden.

Any other suggestions for re-uses? I suspect there will be some overlap with the sanitary towel suggestions but I think the size/shape might lead to some new ideas too.

(Photo by pascal79)

How can I reuse or recycle cat litter?

cat_litter.jpgWe’ve had an email from Andy Whittington about a subject that is close to my own heart (and nose):

We have two new feline housemates, and the accompanying cat litter with waste, does anyone have any idea how I can reuse/recycle this after the solid waste has been removed, and is the sawdust product more eco friendly than the porous stone chip version?

Congratulations on the new additions to your household Andy and welcome to the world of sitting on the floor because they’ve snagged the best chairs and refuse to be moved.

As I say on our sister site Compost This, it’s tempting to compost wood-based litter but poop parasites can cause a problem. Our garden is too small for multiple compost heaps but my mum and dad have a heap they just use for litter and accept that it’ll take ages to break down and not use it on their veg plot.

If the poo is, well, perfectly contained, then it’s less of a problem because it can be disposed of separately and the absorbed urine might actually help your compost heap because it’s nitrogen based. Just be careful to keep the heap balanced with other materials if you want it to breakdown in a reasonable time-frame.

I don’t know for sure about the eco-friendliness of the wood-based versus clay ones (does anyone else?) but I suspect (read: hope) that the former is a waste byproduct of the wood industry. It is also less likely to cause clumping issues for the cats. We’ve also tried recycled paper-based litters – they worked alright, just left the room smelling of damp paper – and if poo-free, could be composted like the wood ones.

Any other thoughts? Anyone know if the clay-based ones be used as aggregate in concrete or anything like that?

(Photo by mzacha)

How can I reuse or recycle meat bones?

meat-bones.jpgWe had an email to our Compost This address from Mark, asking:

Can I compost bones, free from the butcher?

In the vast, vast, vast majority of cases, this would be a big no – the smell of any left over meat or marrow would probably attract unwanted vermin, they could introduce/encourage dangerous organisms which might not get broken down in the composting process and depending on the thickness of the bones, they could take an age to rot down and clog up your heap in the meantime.

But what else can be done with them? Any suggestions?

(Photo by redvisualg)