22 Sep

Going Green: Compost for a Healthy Garden

Want to reuse, reduce and recycle? You can do all these things if you start a compost pile this fall.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, we throw out a quarter of the food and beverages we buy, so by starting a compost pile, you can put that waste to good use in the spring.

In addition to the benefits of going green, your garden and your wallet will benefit. Compost improves the quality of your soil, bringing more nutrients to flowers and vegetables, and is a great (and cheaper) alternative to chemical fertilizers. Ready to start your own compost pile?

Here’s how:

1. Find a spot in your yard that’s at least 3 feet by 3 feet, which is a sufficient size for yard and kitchen waste to decompose without a bin. Or you can simply buy a compost bin.

2. Begin with a thick layer of carbon-rich brown materials, such as yard waste (dead flowers, straw, leaves) and shredded newspaper.

3. Layer several more inches of nitrogen-rich green materials, such as grass and leftover food (no meat, fish or dairy waste).

4. Add a thin layer of garden soil and moisten it all.

5. That’s it! Keep adding to these layers as you generate more waste.

After a while you should see steam emanating from the pile, which is a good sign that it’s healthy, and earthworms should be visible. Once your pile is up and running remember to add to it regularly, and try to have a good mix of brown and green material. Using a shovel or pitchfork, turn your pile every week or two to mix it up, and add some water if it isn’t moist; if your pile is too dry, decomposition will be slow (but too much water will give you a slimy pile).

When your compost pile is dark and rich in color, it’s ready to use, in two to five weeks.

22 Sep

Autumn Salad Recipe

Crisp apples, nuts and seeds give this salad a nutritious crunch.

Number of servings: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, rinsed and sliced thinly (with skin)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 bag mixed lettuce greens (or your favorite lettuce, about 5 cups), rinsed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ¹⁄3 cup low-fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing

DIRECTIONS

1. Sprinkle lemon juice on the apple slices.

2. Mix the apple, lettuce, cranberries, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a bowl.

3. Toss with raspberry vinaigrette dressing to lightly cover the salad, and serve.

Per serving: 138 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 41 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 230 mg potassium.

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Snippets
SPOTLIGHT ON… APPLES

  • Apple cider, apple crisp, apple pie … autumn is for apples! Many popular U.S. apple varieties are available starting in September. October is National Apple Month.Pilgrims planted the first U.S. apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Comparing apples to oranges: Both fruits are a-peel-ing to consumers. In the United States, orange juice is more popular than apple juice. However, fresh apples are consumed more than fresh oranges.
  • Why bobbing for apples works: 25 percent of an apple’s volume is air, which allows them to float.
  • A fruit grown coast to coast: Apples are grown in every state in the continental United States. Top producing states include Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia.
  • The science of apple growing is called pomology. Honeycrisp apples have a higher education heritage — they were developed by the University of Minnesota.

Sources: U.S. Apple Association, usapple.org; New York Apple Association, nyapplecountry.com; United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, www.ers.usda.gov.