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Wednesday.September 28.2016 Powell River Peak » prpeak.com
FALL HOME AND GARDEN As the weather becomes colder, the tendency is to huddle up and keep warm inside your house, but Powell River’s mild climate lends itself to home and garden improvements throughout the fall in preparation for winter. Many different tasks can be undertaken by homeowners and renters to be ready for the winter season. While upkeep of a home is important to the safety and well-being of its residents, it can also save money in the long run, especially when it comes to weatherproofing and energy efficiency. Whether fall home and garden improvements are completed by a professional or homeowners themselves, it is important to run through a checklist to make sure nothing is forgotten.
Fall improvement checklist • Clean gutters and make sure they drain properly • Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors • Inspect roof for damage, flashing issues and leaking vents • Ensure siding and trim is intact and there are no rotting boards or insect infestations • Evaluate your deck and railings and consider repairs • Repair sidewalks, driveways and stairs • Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems • Check that the furnace is working properly and clean or replace dirty filters • Clean chimneys and inspect fireplaces and wood stoves • Review home fire-exit plans and check smoke alarms and fire extinguishers • Landscape yard and rake up dead leaves before winter • Consider a winter garden based on what grows well through fall
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Is your home ready for the fall? Fall involves more than just colourful leaves, rainy days and Halloween candy; it is also the time to caulk windows, clean gutters, repair sidewalks and the list goes on. In fact, preparing for fall involves important many jobs. Here are a few of them: • Put away deck furniture and the barbecue, unless it is set up to be used year round. Drain and store garden hoses and turn off any outside taps. • Clean out all gutters and downspouts, make sure they are draining properly and secured to the house. • Inspect the roof. Make sure skylights, roof shingles and seals on
chimneys or vents are in good condition. Do any necessary repairs. • Have your chimney cleaned and your fireplace inspected to prevent fires. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working well and then change the batteries (they should be replaced every year). • Examine foundations and exterior siding and fix any cracks to prevent water or air infiltration. • Check the slope of the ground and make any modifications to ensure rainwater drains away from your home. Check the sump pump, if you have one, to avoid any unpleasant surprises during heavy rainfall or the spring melt. • Check your deck or balcony. Make sure railings and steps are
safe and replace rotten or damaged planks. Check if the deck is adequately lit and take advantage of the mild weather to replace bulbs in outdoor fixtures. • Inspect doors and windows. To keep cold and dampness from entering the house, replace damaged seals and weatherstripping. Take this opportunity to remove window air conditioners, if you have any. Remove bug screens to pre-
vent condensation and maximize the amount of winter sunlight entering your home. • Check all air outlets (central vacuum, dryer, range hood, etc.) and make sure the vent covers close properly. • Clean the filters of your air exchanger and heating system. Vacuum inside any furnace registers. It would also be wise to verify that the heating system is working
properly. In fact, fall is the perfect time to have it checked by a professional. • Clean the garage floor catch basin. If it connects with the house plumbing, make sure the automatic valve closes properly. • Test your water if you have a well. This should be done every six months. • Close the pool if you have one. Drain partially, so the water level is about 30.5 cm (one foot) below the skimmer basket. Disconnect and drain all the pipes and bleed the pump before storing it for the winter. Lastly, spring is not the only time of year to do a thorough cleanup; preparing your home for the winter also requires some cleaning chores. For example, it is important to vacuum baseboard heaters and make sure furniture and curtains are well clear of them. Carpets, curtains and fabric-covered chairs should also be cleaned. This will greatly improve the air quality in your home during those long winter months when windows are not opened as frequently.
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Fall maintenance protects investment SHANE CARLSON email@example.com
In order to properly maintain a weatherproof home, paying close attention to exterior structural areas is a key component for the homeowner. Annual checkups can limit or prevent damage due moisture accumulation, flooding, tree and vegetation growth, rot, cold drafts and deterioration of household materials. Water intrusion into homes due to excessive rainfall is a big problem in Powell River. Several areas require attention, preparation and annual maintenance by homeowners in order to avoid costly repairs. “We have a large amount of water in the winter in a short time because of flash flooding and heavy rainfall,” says home inspector Darick Holler. “Preventative maintenance really works to protect an investment.” Keeping gutters and downspouts clear of debris is important to ensure water eventually flows into city storm drains rather than finding an entry point into a basement or lower level of a home. While most homeowners can unclog gutters and downspouts on their own with a ladder, hose and gloves, perimeter drains are trickier to deal with. “Often people don’t clean them, ever, they just don’t even think about it because they can’t see them,” says Holler. “Every so of-
ten it is a good idea to have them looked at.” Do-it-yourself options do not present themselves in every case. In this situation, Holler recommends contacting a plumber who can check perimeter drains with an optic camera. “Some of them can see if there are clogs because of roots, silt or collapsed lines,” says Holler. “Often the old material collapses if it was made of concrete or clay.” Keeping warmth in and cold out is important at every level of the home, including doors and windows. Weatherstripping should be checked as it can deteriorate over time, especially in homes with pets. Easy to install door sweeps also help to prevent heat loss and prevents cold, and sometimes moisture, from entering the home. Homeowners should inspect window sills and doors to make sure rot is not present, especially southeast facing doors, and caulking around windows and painting doors are essential preventative measures, says Holler. “When rots starts, it just spreads,” says Holler. “It is a microorganism, so it continues to propagate if there is lots of moisture.” Exposed taps, faucets and pipes in basement areas and crawl spaces also require attention. “If you can’t turn a tap off from inside, make a little insulated covering that goes over the outside tap and slip it over,” says Holler. Pressurized pipes can cause a lot of damage, quickly. “You don’t want your pipe freezing,” says Holler. “If you have visible pressurized piping that is not insulated, it is a good idea to buy a foam wrap insulation and simply slip it on.” To ensure proper drainage, roofs should be checked for debris that
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may be caught up in valleys next to chimneys and holding moisture, which can lead to premature damage. Organic material needs to be kept clear, especially from trees that extend over a rooftop and create more falling debris. Holler recommends that brick chimneys are sealed with a masonry sealer to prevent water from gaining an entry point. “I see a lot of chimneys absorbing water,” says Holler. “It gets caught, freezes in the winter and can crack.” Another chimney option is coating them with an elastomeric paint. “Some may say it is not a good idea because now they are always going to have to paint that chim-
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ney,” says Holler. “Well, those people don’t have moisture problems in their house, so maybe it is not a bad idea.” For cracks in concrete patios, sidewalks and driveways, Holler recommends filling them with masonry caulking. All cracks should be cleaned and filled to prevent water from accumulating under the slab, freezing and causing more cracking and heaving of the concrete surface. “You think a little crack is not a big deal, but then you start digging around and realize there is a major problem.” says Holler. Railings and decks, whether vinyl or wood, should be closely inspected and well sealed. “Where vinyl meets wood often
there is an area that needs to be caulked because water can get underneath and cause damage,” says Holler. “Once water gets under vinyl it is trapped.” Vegetation should trimmed to at least six inches away from the house, to avoid insect, rodent and rot problems. “Trees and any kind of vegetation can damage the exterior surface in a storm, but it is also becomes a ladder for insects and rodents to gain access through exterior components of the house,” says Holler. “Vegetation roots can also damage perimeter drains.” In the long run, says Holler, staying on top of regular fall maintenance will save homeowners money.
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B4 Wednesday.September 28.2016 | Powell River Peak » prpeak.com
Benefits of maintaining heating systems With autumn fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your house. Your heating system is the lifeblood of your home during the cold season, so it’s important to keep it in perfect working condition. The last thing you want is to be left out in the cold during a blizzard.
Your furnace or boiler should be maintained at least once a year, regardless if it runs on electricity, gas or oil. By servicing your heating system annually, you’ll be able to keep energy losses to a minimum, prevent parts from breaking down and help ensure the safety of you and your family.
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A qualified heating technician will: • Check the air supply of your of boiler or furnace • Inspect the flue or vent pipes • Check the condition of the heat exchanger • Ensure that the various parts of the heating system are in good working condition • Perform additional checks if your heating system uses natural gas or oil
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There are several benefits to having your heating system cleaned and checked by a certified technician. A furnace or boiler that isn’t running at peak performance will require more energy to maintain the same level of output. This can cause damage to your system, alter the temperature of your home and increase your energy bill. What’s more, by having a technician install a carbon monoxide alarm, you’ll have the added security of being alerted if there’s ever a potentially threatening gas leak in your home.
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Energy audits save money JASON SCHREURS email@example.com
Fall is the perfect time to do upgrades on your home to make it more energy efficient and save money during the costly winter months. Luckily, according to energy-audit experts, the number of rebate programs available to upgrade heating systems, windows, insulation and more is higher than it has been in many years. The trick is getting Powell River residents to participate in the programs, according to VerdaTech Energy Management and Consulting owner Chris Wiebe. Based out of Nanaimo, Wiebe is the only certified home-energy auditor for the Powell River area. He said he only comes here a handful of times per year and wishes more homeowners knew about the number of rebate programs available.
“The rebates are as good as they’ve been for the last seven or eight years, but a lot of people don’t know how good they are,” said Wiebe. “In terms of what you will see in the energy savings and what the rebates are, upgrades pay for themselves quite quickly.” A variety of rebates include a provincial rebate of $1,700 to upgrade from an oil furnace to a heat pump as well as rebates from utility companies and mortgage insurers for various upgrades. A few of the many rebates available require homeowners to have an energy audit done on their house in order to qualify, but that is not the only reason to have one done, say experts. “EnerGuide Rating System home evaluations give you independent, building-science based advice, so you can choose the best upgrades for your budget to save energy and improve home comfort,” says Glenys Verhulst, communications coordinator at City »B6
Supporting locally • Pacific Salmon Foundation • PR Minor Hockey Association • Friends of the Patricia Theatre • PR and District SPCA • PR Minor Baseball Association • PR Kings Junior A Hockey Club • PR Film Festival • Powell River and District United Way • Townsite Heritage Society • PRISMA • PR Educational Services Society • Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164 • International Choral Kathaumixw and many more
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A major renovation is not necessary to receive rebates, however. Simple upgrades such as a new heating system, windows, ventilation system or even added insulation can garner hundreds of dollars in immediate rebates as well as energy savings for years to come, according to experts. In fact, something as simple as sealing leaks in your home around windows, doors and chimneys can reduce energy consumption considerably, says Verhulst. “Sealing air leaks in your home is a low-cost and highly effective way to improve comfort and energy savings,” she says. “During an energy evaluation, your energy advisor will perform a blower door test to help you find the air leakage problem spots in your home.” A draft-proofing rebate of up to $500 is available, as well as an additional $750 under some programs for completing three eligible upgrades. The one rebate that is far and away the single easi-
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est way to save money, says Wiebe, is the provincial oil to heat-pump conversion program, which requires a home-energy audit. “They will give you $1,700 to put a heat pump in and I know that just in the first year or two it pays for itself,” he says, “because a lot of homeowners go through a couple of tanks of oil a year.” Receiving an EnerGuide rating from a home energy auditor is not just about accessing rebates. According to Wiebe, the energy rating can also be valuable when buying and selling a house. EnerGuide ratings are currently required for homes being built or renovated in Vancouver, says Verhulst. The province has no immediate plans to make EnerGuide ratings mandatory for houses being sold, and the decision to have an audit done is up to each homeowner, according to a spokesperson from Ministry of Energy and Mines. For more information and a list of home-energy rebates, go to citygreen.ca.
Vinyl This is an affordable, lightweight and easy-to-install material that is impervious to scratches, mould and insect damage. Engineered wood Also known as composite wood, this material is made from wood fibres, resin and wax. It looks exactly like natural wood and comes in different colours and textures. It’s also durable and requires very little upkeep, making it an eco-friendly choice. Fibre cement Available in boards, panels, shingles or soffit, fibre cement is a wall cladding that’s gaining in popularity. Du rable and resistant to temperature variations, it comes in a wide array of colours and has either a smooth or textured finish. Wood Wood is the perfect choice when looking for ecofriendly siding that will add value to your home. Visually stunning, it can be combined with any other material to give your home a unique charm. Brick Thanks to its exceptional durability, brick is one of the most cost-effective sidings on the market. It’s extremely resistant to weather, fires, pests and rot, and adds an element of refined elegance to any style of home.
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Green Solutions, a nonprofit society that educates homeowners on energy efficiency. Wiebe says the first step to linking to the full range of home rebate programs is hiring someone to do a home-energy audit. Data on the house is collected, including how energy efficient it is, and then homeowners are advised on which rebates
are available and how much money can be saved in the long run. With the relatively low cost of having the audit done, thousands of dollars can be saved. “Most people are really happy to have an audit done,” says Wiebe. “If they are doing renovations on a whole house, they could be looking at anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 in rebates. It’s significant money right now.”
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Yard maintenance: a short guide to fall chores Summer vacation is a thing of the past and a few tidy-up jobs are waiting for you in the yard. That’s right; your yard is in great need of some TLC at this time of year.
Take a walk in the vegetable garden After you’ve harvested your delicious homegrown vegetables, all the weeds and pests have to be removed from your vegetable plot. This is also the time to take stock and plan for next year. Evaluate the performance of your garden and take note of any problems you experienced during the growing season (insects, diseases, plants too close together, etc.). This will help you correct things next time around. If you didn’t take note of the location of your various vegetables when you sowed them, you should do so now. That way, you can rotate your crop next summer. And if you want to enjoy garlic next year, now’s the time to plant your bulbs.
Check around the flower beds This is definitely not the time to sit back and relax as far as your flowerbeds are concerned. In fact, a good cleaning up is required. Dig up weeds, as well as any annuals that have been damaged by the first frosts. Trim the stems of plants susceptible to disease and the foliage of perennials. Fall is also the ideal time to test your soil and amend it where necessary. Divide your perennials and plant spring bulbs. Non-hardy bulbs should be dug up after the first frost. Leave them to dry and then remove the excess soil before storing them in a cool, dry, dark place for replanting next year.
Take care of the lawn
Spoiling your lawn all summer is not enough for it to stay beautiful and healthy. Fall is the time to reseed bare spots, aerate the soil, add compost and spread a potassiumrich natural fertilizer. You should
also remove any dead leaves, as a thick carpet of leaf debris deprives the grass of light and may cause it to die off. Shred the leaves and compost them, or let them decompose on the ground. In October, you should also mow the lawn for the last time, being sure to leave it at a height of five centimeters so it will be protected from temperature changes.
Clean and maintain the deck Cool fall days are perfect for doing maintenance work on your deck. Remove any weeds and debris stuck between the planks and steps of the deck and then repair or replace damaged planks and wobbly posts. You should also sand any rough spots that may cause splinters and fill cracks with wood putty. A thorough cleaning is also a good idea. Use a pressure washer (on the lowest setting to avoid damaging the surface) and a cleaning product that’s suitable for your type of wood. Then treat or stain
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your deck so it stays beautiful for as long as possible. Raking up fallen leaves; cutting back perennials; mowing the lawn
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Fall gardening checklist You meticulously tended your garden all summer, and though those long, hot days have subsided, it isn’t quite yet time to hang up your gardening gloves. Here’s a list of things to do this fall that will ensure your garden is in top form come spring: • Use the fallen leaves on your property to mulch your garden or supplement your compost heap. • Before the first hard frost, bring indoors any fragile perennials or tropical plants you grow outside. Try enjoying them as houseplants for as long as you can, or, if it suits the plants, place them in a cool, dark room for their dormancy period. • Tend to your lawn by fertilizing and reseeding it. Spread seed in early and late fall. Use an aerator tool to aerate the grass, and for the last two cuttings of the season, lower your lawn mower’s blade to the lowest setting. • Set in any new fall-planted bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and snowdrops) before the ground freezes. These bulbs need to spend a winter in the ground in order to flower properly in the spring. Plant them in sunny areas with well-drained soil and water them thoroughly. • Prepare some anti-frost covers for your late-growing produce. Use a tarp or individual upside-down plastic containers. Keep in mind that some vegetables can survive the first frost, including pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, some turnips, spinach, and cabbages. • Condition your garden soil with compost, leaves or other organic material, and if you can, till it under for early planting next spring. If soil erosion is a problem, plant a green ground cover. • Clean up your gardening tools and store them away. Wipe down your lawn mower and weed eater, and oil any moving parts. Give your hoes, spades and wheelbarrow a wipe-down with a mild bleach solution to remove any plant diseases or spores. Doing all the above will help position your garden for another great growing season come spring and allow you to rest easy over the winter months.
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Top six late-blooming perennials for fall As the leaves start to change colour and fall to the ground, many gardeners start to feel rueful at the dull sight of flowerbeds past their prime. However, there’s hope for gardeners reluctant to put away the secateurs and gardening gloves, even in the lower-number hardiness zones. With some planning and planting, you can develop lateblooming flowerbeds that promise continuing colour well past the end of summer.
look like much through the summer, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic blooms in early fall. Asters These tough, star-shaped flowers keep the blooming season alive right into the fall. Coneflowers New cultivars promise pretty scents and colours.
Chelone lyonii, or turtlehead Likes dampness and produces colourful, slope-headed blossoms. Chrysanthemum If you’re planting in the fall, get them in the ground fast, mulch them and keep them damp.
How to keep your vegetable garden producing through fall
Eupatorium purpureum, or Joe Pye weed Although you see it growing wild along roadsides, newer varieties are tamer
and smaller. Helenium autumnale, or sneezeweed Although the plant doesn’t
Shrubs for a golden show Add some deep reds and golds to your fall palette with shrubs that yield late flowers or brilliant foliage. Try witch hazel, Solomon’s seal, ninebark or Crispa, an elm cultivar. Even if you’re not set up to have a fallblooming garden this year, it’s a fine time to start planning for spring. Fall is the best time to plant many shrubs and bulbs for next year.
If you like to talk gardening with your friends and neighbours, you’re probably hearing more about cultivating fall crops than ever before. Although gardeners in the more hardy zones south of us have always done it, the trend towards planting for a fall harvest has been creeping north in the last few years. With some careful planning and tending, you can enjoy tasty vegetables later than you might have thought possible. A successful fall growth depends on the hard frost records for your area, and the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to protect your plants from early frosts. In milder, coastal areas such as Powell River, you may be able to grow certain veggies through November, if the weather cooperates. Hardy vegetables Some veggies are naturally more resilient than others. Among the hardiest are the following: • Carrots • Cold-hardy herbs such as chives (the hardiest), French tarragon, lovage, mint and parsley • Hardy varieties of collards • Heavily mulched turnips • Lettuces and mache, in a cold frame or low tunnel, until late fall • Parsnips • Savoy-type cabbages • Some leek varieties • Spinach grown in cold frames The best way to experiment is to try several varieties and see which ones survive. You could also talk to experienced gardeners and local farmers to see how they push the limits of the season.
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B10 Wednesday.September 28.2016 | Powell River Peak » prpeak.com
Gardeners extend growing season Some gardens are finished while others are just beginning DAVE BRINDLE firstname.lastname@example.org
things. There are crops you grow that you aim to harvest in the winter and crops you grow that mature during the winter; then you harvest them in the spring.” According to May, the great tradition for the winter garden comes from northern Europe, where crops in the Brassica family, such as cabbages, come from. “That would include stuff like arugula, over-wintering broccoli, winter cabbages and Brussels sprouts. They all just stay in the garden,” says May. “The autumn broccoli I’m starting to harvest now. I had my first feed last night.”
While gardeners usually toil through the spring and summer, May says he does not bother with a summer garden. “I actually buy all of my vegetables from the farmers’ market in the summer because there is no way I can compete with the fantastic gardeners we have,” he says. “There is a huge tradition of gardening in Powell River, especially with all the Italian immigrants who came in the mid-20th century.” According to May, fall and winter is when he relishes the fruits of his labour. “To be able to go out to your gar-
den on Christmas Day and pick all the vegetables for your Christmas dinner is a special treat,” says May. “I had a green salad on Christmas Day from my garden with arugula.” Winter, spring, summer or fall, according to Amatt, the nice thing about this part of the coast is things happen all year. Amatt and her partner Chris DeCap built a walipini, which is an earth-sheltered cold frame that provides a warm, stable and well-lit environment for yearround vegetable production. “Heat from the earth will keep it warmer outside year round, so we are hoping to really extend our
growing season,” says Amatt. “Our tomato plants can hopefully stay in there even until November, if we are getting a lot of sun and the heat stays up. We are going to try planting some different things through the winter that we would not normally have outside, but we can keep them in there over the winter and they will not freeze.” Because the climate is changing, Amatt says people are planting things throughout the year and it is anyone’s guess what will take. According to Amatt, gardeners are always pushing the growing envelope.
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It is a bittersweet time of year for many gardeners in Powell River. The last of the vegetable harvest is being consumed and the colour of summer flowers is gone. “All gardeners can relate to, ‘Thank goodness the harvest is coming to an end,’ and you can relax a little bit and put your feet up,” says local gardener Jillian Amatt. Time spent in gardens, as days grow shorter into fall, is for putting things to bed for the winter, pruning and planting fruit trees, shrubs and bulbs and undertaking fall projects. “I look forward to the fall,” says Amatt. “I’m very busy in the summer with my work as well as gardening. I kind of look forward to a dark, dreary day when I can sit inside and just relax and not have to think about anything.” Still there are always things to do in a Powell River garden, she says. “We have to get our garlic planted pretty quick,” says Amatt. “You have to start prepping your beds. If you’re doing lasagna gardening, you have to start layering up your seaweed, dead leaves and grass clippings and all that stuff to get it ready for next season.” Then there are the local gardeners, such as David May, whose seasons are just starting. “It’s great. My garden is just coming into production now,” says May. “The difference with winter gardening is a combination of
B11 Wednesday.September 28.2016 | Powell River Peak » prpeak.com
Taking the chill out of winter
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the above methods. Not everyone is able to commit to proper compost maintenance, so there are other options to consider. Perhaps a neighbour nearby would be happy to share their composter? Residents and businesses are also welcome to drop off food scraps and yard waste (branches less than one inch in diameter) at Town Centre recycling depot (located in the parking lot next to Rona Building Centre) during its hours of operation, Mondays to Saturdays, 8 am-5:30 pm. Large loads of 50 litres (20 pounds) to two yards maximum must be dropped off at Sunshine Disposal at 4484 Franklin Avenue on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10 am-4 pm. Please note that plastic, compostable and biodegradable bags will not be accepted in the program. Instead, line bins with cardboard, paper towels, scrap paper or cellulose-lined paper bags. Also, please ensure all food-waste packaging is removed. See letstalktrash.ca for a detailed list of what goes in and what stays out. This is a timely addition to Powell River’s waste-management options. The trend observed by many local governments is to ban food scraps and yard waste from the waste stream altogether. Stay tuned to hear more about City of Powell River’s plans to potentially add food scraps and yard waste to curbside pickup in 2017. Let’s Talk Trash is Powell River Regional District’s waste-management education program.
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Did you know kitchen scraps and yard waste make up more than 40 per cent of your garbage? Living in a remote location such as Powell River comes with high garbage tipping fees, which is a blessing in disguise. These high costs can motivate us to take a second look at the idea of backyard composting, not that any gardeners out there need convincing of the merits of creating their own soil amendment for free. The threat of attracting wildlife of all sizes and neighbours’ complaints about odours can, however, dampen even the most avid gardener’s enthusiasm. Fortunately, maintaining a healthy, odourfree backyard compost is not rocket science. There are four main ingredients to monitor that will go a long way to achieving success: nitrogen, carbon, water and oxygen. Kitchen scraps are high in nitrogen, and most composters have these in ample supply. What is often neglected is the addition of carbon-rich amendments, such as shredded cardboard, newspaper, brown leaves and wood shavings. A good tip is to add an equal volume of carbon materials each time you put in kitchen scraps. This will start the composting process, which reduces odours and will help deter flies. The microorganisms that are so key to the composting process need oxygen and just the right amount of moisture, too. So be sure to turn your pile once a week to aerate it, and ensure your pile does not become too wet or too dry. A good moisture test is to squeeze some compost in your fist. If a little water beads between your fingers, you are right on track. If it streams out or there is none at all, it is either too wet or too dry. When considering the right form of home composting for you, there are a few options to keep in mind. Take a self-guided tour through the Composting Education Centre, located behind the Community Resource Centre (4752 Joyce Avenue) to see the critter-proof stone composter, converted freezer composter, Speedibin and Green Cone solar compost digesters in action. Other methods popular for indoor composting include worm composting and bokashi fermentation. Let’s Talk Trash hosts free monthly composting workshops on all
B12 Wednesday.September 28.2016 | Powell River Peak » prpeak.com
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