Green Tips

    Freecycle is a yahoo group that allows people to give away things they are no longer using.  It is community based and the ultimate way to recycle your goods and keep them out of the landfills.  Check out  Enter Holliston in the area search and you will be brought to our local group.  You must join the group to be able to post.  

Compost 101

    It's been understood since ancient times that what comes from the earth should be returned to the earth. And the best way of returning the earth's richest (with interest) is to build a compost heap. Composting everyday plant debris and kitchen scraps results in rich humus, the decomposed organic matter, that's essential for good garden soil. Humus helps soil hold water, allows for air flow, controls erosion, and creates a home for the bacteria that protect plants against disease, capture airborne nitrogen, lure soil-enriching earthworms, and ferry minerals from the subsoil.

Composting is an ideal way to dispose of organic household refuse such as lawn clippings, leaves, and many kitchen scraps. After six months to a year of composting, you'll be rewarded with pungent, coffee-dark, crumbly humus that helps plants thrive.

    The best compost combines 2 to 3 parts "brown," or carbon-rich materials, with 1 part "green," or nitrogen-rich materials. Never add materials treated with poisons or pesticides that will contaminate the compost. Most gardeners keep two piles, one started about 6 months after the first. This way, they can use the compost from the first pile as the other is decomposing.


  • Compost bin, commercial or homemade, with at least a 1-cubic-yard capacity
  • Brown (carbon-rich) materials, such as dried leaves and pine needles, sawdust, shredded newspaper, straw, small twigs, and wood chips
  • Green (nitrogen-rich) materials, such as grass clippings (free of pesticides), kitchen scraps and vegetable trimmings, and soft prunings or cuttings. Also good: coffee grounds and filters, eggshells, and deadheaded flowers
  • Garden fork
  • Compost thermometer (optional)
  • Compost bioactivator (optional)


    1. Situate the compost pile in a partly shady area near a water source such as a garden hose. Choose a spot away from the garden and a few feet away from buildings.

    2. Begin the compost with a 6- to 12-inch layer of brown material such as twigs or small branches to help air circulation. Build the pile over time by alternating 6- to 12-inch layers of green and brown material. Bury kitchen scraps beneath a layer of brown material to avoid attracting pests and producing odors. Add compost bioactivator, following label directions, and continue layering until bin is full or pile is 3 feet high.

    3. Once layered, dampen the pile with water. Turning the pile with a garden fork, mixing the green and brown materials, will speed decomposition by improving air circulation and will reduce odors, but turning isn't essential.


    4. Try to add equal amounts of green and brown materials to the pile periodically. And maintain a moisture level similar to that of a wrung-out sponge. Average rainfall will usually suffice -- if the compost becomes too dry, add water; if it becomes too wet, add dry materials like leaves or shredded newspaper.

    5. Periodically measure compost's temperature: Healthy decomposition causes compost to literally heat up to between 130 degrees and 150 degrees. Once it begins cooling, turn the pile.


    6. If you've turned the pile regularly, whenever new material is added, in about 3 months, the compost will resemble rich, crumbly potting soil, ready to use. Unturned piles take 6 months to a year.

    Experienced gardeners love to say, "compost happens," meaning eventually almost any pile of organic matter will decompose, but follow the tips below to make your own black gold in a matter of months:

    1. Never add animal matter (meats, fats, bones, or dairy products); cardboard; woods such as black walnut, eucalyptus, and red cedar; diseased plants; domestic-animal waste; lawn and garden cuttings treated with herbicides or pesticides; very wet lawn or garden cuttings; glass; metal; or stones to the compost pile.

    2. Cut up any large kitchen or gardening debris before adding it to the pile to speed decomposition.


    3. Stick to the 1 part green to 2 to 3 parts brown ratio. Excess green matter causes compost to develop a strong odor; if this occurs, add more brown material and a sprinkling of compost bioactivator to aid decomposition, and turn well.

Compost Ingredients:
The following is a partial list of materials suitable for composting. Use it as a guide to help you make the most of garden and household refuse:

  • Green (nitrogen-rich) Material:
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Grass clippings (dry and free of herbicides)
  • Houseplant trimmings
  • Flowers
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea leaves and bags
  • Soft prunings
  • Sod
  • Eggshells
  • Farm-animal manure
  • Fish heads
  • Bonemeal
  • Dried blood
  • Hair
  • Feathers
  • Seaweed (salt washed off)
  • Pond silt

Brown (carbon-rich) Material:

  • Leaves (fallen, dried leaves and muck from rain gutters)
  • Twigs and branches
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Wood ashes
  • Straw
  • Cornstalks
  • Wood chips and shavings
  • Sawdust
  • Wool
  • Newsprint (finely shredded; never add paper printed with color ink)
  • Pine needles
  • From Martha Stewart Living, September 1996

Simple tips to help our environment

Garbage disposal:   If you can't compost it, put your food waste in the trash instead of using the garbage disposal to save water and energy.   

1)  Disposals use about 500,000 gallons of water per day in the United States (both in your sink and during sewage treatment).  

2)  If you pump your food waste into the garbage disposal it goes to water treatment facilities, and may go from there into nature where it's at least three times more likely to disrupt ecosystems (via algal blooms) than it would if it went to a landfill.  

3)  Food scraps make up at least 10% of space in our landfills and off-gas methane, a greenhouse gas, but water treatment workers may fish out waste and send it to the landfill anyway.

    One Step Further:  In general, pitch it in the trash, but if you wanna go deeper, find out if your local landfill or wastewater treatment facility captures methane (which food gives off as it decomposes). If the wastewater treatment facility does and your local landfill does not, go with the garbage disposal.