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 Garden Notes

These occasional posts on helpful, garden-related topics come from gardeners and others with expertise. If you'd like to share your knowledge, we welcome your contributions. 


Updated for the 2024 gardening season

The Capitolo Community Garden has three garden composting bins available for gardeners to add to and harvest compost from. Below are brief instructions for using the compost bins and where to turn for instructions! Questions should be directed to the garden group email or brought to garden meetings for discussion. 

Adding to the Compost Bins

Anything added to the compost bins needs to be cut up into small pieces. For example we would LOVE your carved halloween pumpkin, however please cut it into smaller pieces before adding it into the compost bins. This also goes for any of the below listed items. 

From the garden

  • SOFT green matter from the garden (spoiled produce, green leaves, flowers, etc.) 

  • Dried leaves which are collected and bagged to be added to the bins in proportion to the green matter

From your home

The below list can be brought to the garden. Make sure any store bought produce has the stickers removed and are cut into pieces that are easy to break-down. 

  • Bread

  • Brown paper (grocery bags or other)

  • Coffee grounds

  • Eggshells

  • Fireplace ashes (wood only, no charcoal grill ashes) 

  • Flowers & houseplants 

  • Fruit, fungi and vegetable scraps (trimmings, scraps, pits, rotten) 

  • Newspaper cut small (no glossy inserts) 

  • Pasta

  • Paper towels (not solid in cleaning products or chemicals) 

  • Pencil shavings

  • Rice

  • Sawdust

  • Tofu 

What NOT to add

  • Sticks, roots, vines, weeds(we don’t want to replant them in someone else's plot) 

  • Pet organic matter (please put dog poo bags in the trash cans) 

  • Cardboard that has mailing labels, tape or glossy print 

  • Meat scraps (while contamination on other compostable items is fine, do not compost bones, fat or other meat products, raw or cooked) 

  • Compostable utensils or takeaway cartons (while these are likely degradable overtime, they take too long in our small bins) 

Maintaining the Compost Bins

After adding anything to the bins take the time to turn them. Without doing this the freshly added material will sit on top of the bin and mold. If you have questions on how to do this ask for instructions at the next meeting or work day! 

Ideally each time you add to a bin it’s equal parts soft/wet matter(fruit, veggie) with dry matter(paper, leaves etc). This will keep the bins from getting too wet or too dry over time. If you bring wet matter from home add some of the bagged leaves stored near the shed. If you have dry matter to add you can add it to the leave bags for addition to the bins at a later time. 

Learning more about the compost and bin status

The garden newsletter will be distributed on the 15th of each month during the gardening season. Each month, instructions will be included for which bins have compost ready to be added to plots or is in need of more organic material added. We are looking forward to a robust composting season with everyone’s help! 

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Every year Declan (age 13) and Aidan (age 11) of plot 35 raise painted lady butterflies and praying mantises. This started one year as a birthday gift, and has become an annual tradition.

We get mail-order butterfly larva and watch them develop into caterpillars and then form their chrysalises. When the butterflies emerge, we cut up orange slices to put in the butterfly house for them to feed on. Declan and Aidan enjoy watching the butterflies up close for a few days. We keep an eye on the weather to make sure that it will be above 60 degrees at night so our butterflies will survive outside. We also must be vigilant to keep our two cats away from the butterflies. When the weather is right, Declan and Aidan take the butterflies to the garden and release them in our plot. We hope that the butterflies can survive and continue to reproduce in the garden.

Two years ago, we added praying mantises to our beneficial insect routine. When we receive them in the mail, the mantids are still encases in an egg capsule called an ootheca. Female mantids lay their eggs every autumn, arranged in a spherical structure that looks like it is covered in leaves. There are anywhere from 50 to 500 eggs in each ootheca but only about .3% of those will survive to adulthood. After the mantids hatch, we release them pretty quickly to the garden. They are great escape artists and can get out of the insect enclosure we have for them and before you know it you could have a thousand tiny praying mantises all over your house. At the garden they will eat aphids, mosquitoes, and even lanternflies.

After we release the butterflies and mantids into the garden, Declan and Aidan like looking for the rest of the summer to see if any have survived and are continuing their life cycle.

Stay tuned for an update on the butterflies and mantids emerging and released into the garden.

—Kate Kern Mundie

Just passing along a message from the Landscape committee:

Thistle is making its annual re-appearance at Capitolo. (The "lovely" specimen pictured above was found in the common beds by the ballfield this morning.)

As most of you know, thistle is a real nuisance in the garden. These plants can get quite big and spread quickly. So if you see them in your plot or the common beds, please take a moment to dig them out (including the roots) and toss them in the trash bins. And just a reminder: Don't try to tackle thistle without gloves. The leaves have nasty little spikes that embed themselves in fingers. (You can find gardening gloves in the shed, if you need them.)

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