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If you are interesed in Composting this couse was excellent. After completing it last year I have reduced my trash by over 50% and have had great sucess with in making that "black gold" . I recommend it to anyone intersted in compositing and gardening. You can contact me if you have any questions. Dana

Master Composters Piedmont Landscape and Naturescape Training

Our mission is to promote wise and sustainable management of natural resources through responsible stewardship at the local level, working in partnership with individuals, neighborhoods, schools and community organizations.

The training is available to eligible participants. The training is 40 hours total with several field trips and hands on projects. Potential participants must complete the registration form. In return for the training, we are asking for specific volunteer time to help with different projects like: troubleshooting with schools, neighborhood training projects, staffing a booth at the Southern Spring Show and others as needed.
The project will train 25 Master Composter volunteers. Drawing on successful master composter's training models from around the country, we are recruiting for volunteers based on their interests, commitment and level of experience. The trainees will come from throughout the community, so to reflect the cultural diversity of the Charlotte region. A local MC project will make a valuable contribution to reduce waste and improve environmental quality through home, neighborhood, business and school yardcare and composting. All trainees will complete a twelve-week training course.

The participants will learn how to teach and troubleshoot classes including:

Compost - how to turn leaves, yard clippings & kitchen scraps into rich compost that is a cost savings & a valuable soil amendment for plants in the yard and garden.
Home and Community Soil Stewardship - How and why to do a soil test, managing soils to improve fertility, decrease erosion and protect the environment.
Toxicity Reduction - Water quality, chemical alternatives and natural methods, and proper use, storage and disposal of yard chemicals.
Home Yard Care - Wise lawn care, types of grasses and how to best manage them, grasscycling, and lawn alternatives including ground covers, natural areas and proper mulching techniques.
Piedmont Naturescaping - Landscaping for sustainability and easy, low-cost maintenance, (southern xeriscaping)using traditional and native plants and trees in the landscape, groundcovers and mulch, watersaving strategies and best irrigation practices and technologies. Prevention and eradication of invasive plants in our communities to improve property values.
Habitat and Natural Gardening - natural landscaping techniques that allow for beneficial insects and plants, habitat for wildlife and low maintenance beautification of the landscape.
Spring 2009 MCPLANT Schedule:

Regular Classes will be held at Win Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary, 248 Ridgewood Ave. Monday mornings from 10am to Noon. There will be the occasional Saturday field trip and a few classes will be held at different locations noted below with an asterisk*.

If there is enough interest, a second evening class may also be offered. Dates will remain the same with a few additonal Saturday field trips. Classes would meet from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Wing Haven. Please indicate on the registration form above (highlighted in blue) if you prefer the morning or evening session.

Feb. 9, 2009 Introduction

Feb. 14, 2009 Saturday class. Building a compost pile

Feb. 16, 2009 Piedmont Soils

Feb. 23, 2009 Compost Science

Mar. 2, 2009 Grasscycling and Mulching

*Mar. 4-8, 2009 Attend the Southern Spring Show (Charlotte Merchandise Mart, 2500 E. Independence Blvd.)

Mar. 9, 2009 No regular class

Mar. 16, 2009 Projects-Doing vs. Telling

*Attend a Saturday PLANT class. Check the website for dates and locations.

Mar. 23, 2009 Water Quality and *Tour of Compost Central. (Longer class than usual).

Mar. 30, 2009 Worm Composting

April 6, 2009 No class. Spring Break

April, 13, 2009 Native Plants

*April 18, 2009 Saturday class. 10am-3pm. Earth Day CPCC's main campus. Volunteers needed. Hours count toward community service.

April 20, 2009 Invasive plants

April 27, 2009 Community Gardens

May 4, 2009 No regular class.

May 11, 2009 Project Presentations

*May 18, 2009 Graduation and Potluck celebration. Class meets from 10am- 1pm

Please see online registration form highlighted in blue at top of this page.


Mecklenburg County
Solid Waste - Waste Reduction
700 North Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

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I'd love to do this class! But, have over-committed my "volunteer" time already and couldn't take on that 40-hour commitment. But, can I pick your brain?

Also, would you be interested in doing a composting or vermiculture presentation for the group? I'm a member of the Native Plant Society and we did a fun, easy vermicomposting bin and I LOVE it. I just want to make some more.

Also, do you know a local source of garden worms?? I know the vermicomposting ones are not able to survive our climate extremes.

You won't need Don's book, I believe. LOL His theory is that we can use 75% compost from Compost Central and 25% sand as our "weed-free" soil in the raised beds. I'm not quite convinced that won't be too nitrogen rich to plant in directly. What are your thoughts? I understand with a raised bed, much of the minerals will wash out when watered from above. BUT, I'm still a bit stuck on thinking that compost is too rich.

Also, what are your thoughts about heavy metals and concentrated chemicals remaining in the compost from the city? He indicated that there are testing levels done on the compost. Is that information available to the public, like the city water testing is? I like to see things with my own eyes. :-) My goal is nutrient rich minerals in the soil. I just want to avoid BCP, antibiotics, narcotics, Tylenol, petroleum distillates, fertilizers, herbicides, etc in my "organic" garden soil from Compost Central. LOL Any suggestions on sand sources? I know there is some issue with sourcing that too...


Pat, If you really wanted to to this you don't have to just volunteer for a society at an event, you can count the hours you put in educating and working with this group regarding composting, gardening, etc as part of your hours. I am working with my neighborhood to soil test before spring so that they are not applying so many chemicals in "my back yard" and all my hours working on this count toward my 40. I'm just giving examples of other ways to "give back" those hours, you're already working on them.

I would be happy to give a composing presentation (demonstration) to the group. Acutally I would like to add a second bin in my back yard and that would be the perfect opportunity. The best way to really learn is to "do" it rather than just go to a persentation so if I could hold it here at my backyard everyone could learn hands on. I would give instruction/ information & liturature before hand also, but seeing it done is really worth while. Or if I'm too far (I live in Indian Trail) I could do it at another location where the bin would be kept. Let me know either way.

If you're looking to purchase Native Plants you can do so through the Carolina Wetland Services (550 Westinghouse Blvd., 28273, 704-527-1177). I've never been there but I believe it is near Pineville. Call first because they don't have regular business hours. Native Plants are new to me. I'm just learning them and incorporating them into my yard.

Remember the old saying "if you build it, they will come", well that applies to worms! If you have the right soil (or composing bin) they will come! There is no need to purchase earth worms for your yard. I almost did this and everyone told me the same thing (they will come) and by the end of last summer, they came! I've got worms! Lots of them! All they want is decent soil and food (carbon - leaves, branches, etc. and/or food/plant scraps like the fallen tomatoes in your garden, etc.). So a garden will attract them, no worries.

Compost in soil holds the moisture. Sand drains. I'm not an expert. I think our clay soil holds water very well and compost is the best way to fertalize and retain moisture also. I'm not sure that I am comfortable having a bed with just compost and sand. For the garden I"m currently building I'm going to mix the clay, garden soil (black stuff, not red), compost and sand. The clay is free. I'll just "steal" some sand from my kids and purchase the soil. For compost.....I think that compost central is wonderful but I understand your worries.

Compost central gets it's "supplies" from the residents. It is not required to be organic. I'm sure that diseased plants and weeds make it to the site. (I don't see how they can really police this) HOWEVER, their high heat process does work to kill disease & weeds (our backyard composting will not). But I am unsure of the chemicals. Also, there is one invasive plant/weed that survives but can be illiminated in time. I can't remember the name. I do not know of the testing done there for chemicals. This is the first I have heard of it. So if you are ok with it having had some chemials in the compost and dealing with that invasive, compost central is the cheapest way to go. It is highly recommended. You can even take a tour of it.

I think that if you want chemical free / organic, then you'll have to find a different source. I would call BlueMax and see if they offer organic. Their Garden Max "Our premium dirt blend consisting of screened topsoil, creek sand, & compost. Ideal for use in garden beds " is about $21/yard but I did not ask if it was organic and have not received my supply yet. I think you can get organic mushroom compost at Lowes/Home Depot but it is about $5 a bag. It would depend on the size of your bed how much you would need. I'm the kind of gardener that would just eye ball it for ratio.

As far as weeds, I've never heard that they would not grow in compost?? If it is good soil then everything should grow? I'm going to have to look into that.

I'm not sure about the sand. I'm not adding all that much and didn't even give it any thought.

How big of a bed are you building?

Dana :)
Thank you for your lengthy reply! I had heard that about the volunteer time, but then saw something otherwise. This is the first I've heard of an evening offering! I can't do day time during the week, and could probably swing the Monday nights. I'll check about it. Although, I'm swimming in activities...I really think I need to build my raised beds this spring and focus on this class some other time. I wish I'd known about it sooner. But, if other organic garden mamas are going to take it. I might be convinced to juggle it for three months. :-)

The Carolina Wetlands sounds like an interesting resource! Thank you!!

LOL about the worms. You are the third person to tell me that. I've purchased Garden Max from Blue Max previously and it is gorgeous soil! I'm totally intrigued by Don's theory about using just compost though. Apparently, since Compost Central's compost does heat up enough, it kills off the weed seeds. Of course, tilling up the clay or adding any "soil" will bring along weed seeds. That is the fascinating thing about the "weedless soil" that he has researched and outlines in the book.

The degree of decomposition of the compost could be the variable that makes it less harsh on the plants. Unlike directly applying manure or mushroom compost, I'm guessing. Don seems convinced. And this is his livelihood. :-)

But, then I get stuck about chemicals in the dirt/compost. I recently saw a quote, "Healthy soil is more valuable than gold". And I know how important nutrient rich soil is to the produce we grow.

When we went to Blue Planet Water Recycling plant up in Huntersville, they explained that their sludge from cleaning the city (lake) water goes to Compost Central. "Highly contaminated" sludge goes to a toxic waste dump, instead. But, they think the city water is healthy, iykwim. LOL I'm not sure about their standards of "healthy". Of course, it is 'diluted' wit all of the city green waste.

And Blue Max probably gets their compost from Compost Central; and just provides the service of pre-mixing it with the soil, sand, and screens it. :::SIGH::: I want organic soil from a nature preserve. LOL (not really)

And I doubt the bagged compost from Home Depot is much different. Unfortunately, we have contaminated water and soil to draw from.

And I don't want to weed. :-P

YES! Select a day that works for you to do a Compost Hands-on presentation!! We'll post it and all of us garden geeks will coming running. ;-)

I'm planning four 10x4 ft, raised beds.

Maybe two more, if all goes well.

OK, I got my workbooks out. Here goes...

"Clopyralid & Picloram do not break down even with excellent "state of the art" municipal: compositing techniques. Clopyralid is a herbicide, produced by Dow Chemical, used to control dandelions and other weeds in lawns. Grass hay & straw, as well as manure from livestock that eat contaminated feed, are also likely sources for clopyralid contamination Picloram is used to control weeds for agricultural and industrail applicaitons including pasture, rangeland, railroads....they are not not toxic to humans, though cancer risk has not been evaluated. ....."

Finished Compost: "a one inch layer will provide many benefits. A larger application won't hurt but one inch gives us the benefits but leaves us more for uses elsewhere in the yard"

New Beds: "working a two or three inch layer into the top six inches will provide the benefits of compost right into the rooting zone."

It also says to put a little in the planting hole with each seed.

Compost: " a good source of weed control"

Maybe it was not promoted in for weed control in the Plant Course because of how long it takes to make so little. In my materials, I only found that one sentence about weed control. I'm going to get Don's book.

One weed/invasive does survive compost central.

There is no way around the chemicals unless you make your own. I'll find out from BlueMax if they get their compost from Compost Central and let you know.

I'll also let you know about a hands-on presentation date.
Thanks so much,
Dana :)
Interesting. Thanks for typing that out. I went and read his section on soil. And basically, he feels confident about the 75/25 compost: sand ratio for direct planting.

And weedless too! So, I'm going to try that. He does talk about amending it with multiple sources of compost for enriching the soil organically. Like using manures, and Plant-tone, worm castings, etc.

That is disconcerting about the herbicides. Even the cow manure! Gracious.

Love this: "....they are not not toxic to humans, though cancer risk has not been evaluated. ....." LOL

Think I'll work at making my own for future amending. :-/ But, no way do I have enough for my beds. Maybe just getting multiple sources will help. Let me know what you learn from Blue Max.

Are you sure they don't take sewage sludge to Compost Central??? Where else would they take it?!

No idea about the sewage sludge.

If you're doing 4 beds one thought could be to mix the "soil" content in 1 or 2 differently. Add a little garden soil with the compost/sand mixture to see if it makes a difference in the weed control. It may save some money while still controlling the weeds and you could let us know the results!


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