This Valentine’s Day fellow Clifton Place gardeners Marissa and Krista made a trek to what is perhaps the most esteemed garden in all of Gotham—the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. The purpose of the visit was not to check out its ah-mazing collection of flowers and plants, but instead to attend the workshop “Crazy for Composting,” organized by the NYC Compost Project, a program of the NYC Department of Sanitation.
In a 3rd-floor classroom of the Watson Education Building, we joined 30 plus other community and school gardeners from across the city for a 2-hour session that went beyond composting basics. Bronx compost expert Jodie Colón kept us on our toes by posing fundamental questions, like “what is soil?,” “why chipped mulch instead of shredded mulch?,” and “what are the active ingredients at work in compost?” Yeah. So much for thinking we already knew everything we needed to know about compost!
Also in attendance was a whole coterie of garden experts, each with a specialized focus. When discussion drifted to a particular issue, such as rat control or managing compost collection, Jodie summoned the appropriate expert. Caroline Bragdon, rat expert for the Department of Health, was extremely insightful about vermin control. She pointed out that there is not a single scientific study to date that proves any repellent to be effective in keeping rats away. With that, we won’t consider stuffing our compost pile with mint this year.
The 2 hours flew by. The workshop was—to use a tired but very fitting word—empowering. We didn’t leave feeling like we were composting experts, but it’s enough to have a renewed confidence in our gardening instincts and to know that when we do need additional insight, we have the wonderful folks at NYC Compost Project to turn to.