Become responsible stewards

Having had the pleasure of a wonderful evening spent at Mr. Joel Walton’s Plantation House recently at an annual event put on by the Slow Food movement, enjoying fabulous company and spectacular food sourced from Joel’s garden and prepared by the Brasserie, I was most impressed by my surroundings and Joel’s generosity in opening his home but also in sharing his knowledge from his many successes, and perhaps a few failures, in making a fruitful and productive garden on rocky ground that would at first seem to be inhospitable to most plants (for your own garden tour it is worth noting that the Plantation House is open to the public every Sunday from 2pm–5pm).

One of the things that really got me thinking was Joel’s description of himself as being simply a steward of this land as his father was before him and as his children will be in the future.

This is precisely how we should be looking at our surroundings, whether we live in a house with a few acres of land or in a condo complex with just a patio with perhaps room for a few pots of fresh herbs.

It has become obvious that our government is not about to do anything about the mounting problem of recycling or lack thereof.

This is not to say they don’t wish to take on this battle, but, to be fair, they have an enormous amount of other and perhaps more pressing issues and this is just one of the many they are facing.

I’d rather leave the government to deal with the more pressing issues that can’t be solved by the private sector, like fighting crime, and suggest that for issues such as this one, the private sector should lead the way.

It won’t be the first time the private sector has instigated a positive change – the fact that the supermarkets are now charging for plastic bags is another small step in the right direction that was initiated by the private sector.

Although not addressing the issue of plastic and glass, which I agree does need to be addressed at some point in the not too distant future, my suggestion for the start of a solution is simply to suggest that those people in apartment and condominium complexes ask their executive committee’s and/or their strata management companies to think about placing a compost bin on the property along with some basic composting instructions.

Those complexes that have gardens maintained by a local company can involve the gardening company who can use the compost for the plants on the property.

Those in private homes can also easily do this as well and I’m sure most if not all of the gardening and landscaping companies on Island would be happy to provide advice on how best to do this.

This may not be the solution to all our issues but it would be a step in the right direction for becoming more responsible stewards of our surroundings – next up – plastic and glass!

Top 10 Composting Tips to get you started:

Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the “brown” materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.

Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.

Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.

If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.

Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.

Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the dry months your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.

Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.

Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.

Worms and most bugs are OK. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.

Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.

Tara Hopwood

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