Spring is in full force now and the U.S. Compost Council (USCC) just launched their Million Tomatoes Compost Campaign, a tomato growing campaign using donated compost. So go ahead: Start your own vegetable garden with a special spot for some tomatoes. With the help of Nathan Lyon, celebrity chef and campaign spokesperson, you’ll have a thriving garden in no time.
Lyon is well known for his delectable cuisine and his PBS show “Growing a Greener World”, but this spring Lyon is taking time between cooking and filming for a great cause: the Million Tomatoes Compost Campaign, which focuses on spreading the word about the importance of compost for a healthy garden. Compost has been donated by several USCC STA certified compost producers to participating community gardens that will grow tomatoes, either for their own use or for donation to local food banks. The campaign hopes to exceed one million tomatoes by the end of harvest in August.
When Lyon was first approached about the campaign, he was instantly hooked. The project fit perfectly with his interests and what he had been working with on his show. His passion for gardening was cultivated long ago as he used to spend his after-school time with his grandparents in their Virginia garden. Ever since he has been expanding on his skills as a gardener and sharing them with those around him.
“That’s what’s so great about this campaign: You are empowering people by showing them how easy it is to grow your own food and get involved with the community,” says Lyon.
Lyon—as well as a number of other chefs—will be working with the community gardens, schools, and other organization to educate people on using locally grown food. Recently, he created several kid-friendly tomato recipes for the campaign so kids can also get involved, too. Lyon urges others to pay attention to their kids wants. A lot will be excited to get in the garden and grow their own food if you give them the chance.
“Have them grow their own produce and they will be really excited to taste it because they are now stewards,” Lyon explains.
Getting kids involved starts with you. So why not take the time to start your own tomato garden this year? You can easily get involved in the campaign by starting your own tomato garden at home or in a community lot. Go to www.buy-compost.com to see how you can contribute to the campaign.
—Kelsey Schirm, BHG Guest Blogger
This is the time of year when curbsides are “decorated” with brown paper bags filled with fallen leaves. They’re awaiting pick-up by the city, which will compost the lot and sell the rich, crumbly results a year or two from now.
That’s all fine and well, but anyone who does their own composting would be advised to hold a few of those bags in reserve. Dead leaves are the perfect complement to salad greens and other kitchen scraps when you’re making your own compost. So if you hold a few of those bags in reserve now, you’ll be able to “cut” the green material (high in nitrogen) with brown material (high in carbon) throughout the winter, spring, and summer, when dead leaves are less abundant. The balance between nitrogen- and carbon-rich materials speeds up decomposition.
Eric mentions the ease of mowing over your leaves because it puts the kibitz on raking. I do this myself, but I often bag the remains so I can topdress my garden beds. The shredded leaves are a GREAT winter mulch, protecting plants from frost-heaving. Come spring, you simply scratch the mulch aside, do your planting, and brush the mulch back in place. Voila! A soil-strengthening, weed-dampening, moisture-holding wonder mulch that costs you (drum roll, please) ZILCH!