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cat at the compost binMs. Betty, one of our feral cats surveying the greens kept out of the waste stream

Thanks to Citizens Committee for New York for our Composting Grant. Here’s our calculations for the past year:

Our 3 bin pallet compost bin holds 4 square feet of compostables, 50% is food waste and 50% is garden waste and leaves. We turned these bins 5-6 times since April 2015. Our collection bin holds approximately  4 feet square or 64 cubic feet of materials – which has cooked down to much less, especially as the weather has warmed.  Therefore conservatively estimating 64 cubic feet of compostables, multiplied by  5 compost turns, our three bin compost system has therefore diverted 320 cubic feet or about 12 cubic yards of compostables.

We also have a post about the process of turning the compost – in our old bins.

According to this calculator  1 cubic yard of compost is 800 pounds.  12 cubic yards of compostables might weigh around half the weight of finished compost. We therefore diverted approximately 4,800 pounds of organics from the waste stream in our open compost collection bin. The volume of finished compost cooked down in our removal bin usually ends up being about half of that, so we produced 6 cubic yards of compost which also weighed approximately 4,800 pounds. This compost went to amending the soil of garden plots and tree pits around the community. We will soon have a compost give-away to empty out this bin in preparation for building our new bins.

We collected approximately 100 cubic feet or 3.7 cubic yards of fall leaves in our browns holding bin. Using this calculator for dry leaves, we estimate that we diverted 1271 pounds of leaves from the waste stream. These leaves will eventually be mixed with greens throughout the year.



This garden is serious about diverting organic matter produced in the community away from the garbage and landfills and into our bins to create compost. But how does that measure in weight and volume? Today we spent a few hours with our 3-bin composting system in the back of the garden with a tape measure and calculated some of the results. Our composting bin is the same that many gardens construct, made of recycled wood pallets, which create 3 open spStep 1 compostaces for compost in different stages measuring approximately 4 foot square.

We didn’t use the incremental bucket & scale recording method suggested by the Five Borough Farm Kit, because we found it much easier to take bulk measurements during the compost turn and use cubic foot calculations available on the web for figuring out weight and volume.

So armed with shovels, pitchforks and a measuring tape (and some muscle) we spent a few hours in the back of the garden calculating how much organic waste has been diverted and how much compost has been created over the past 7 months.
Want to bring your compostables to the garden? We love you! Bring them!
We are open Saturday – Sunday 12-5pm April – October.

Step oneEmpty the middle bin of cooked compost.

Surprise! On April 4th, half of this pile was still frozen! It was seriously difficult to hack away at this frozen blob. But through a lot of hard work, we managed to build this pile of finished compost.

 finished compost pileThe contents of this bin yielded a pile approximately sized 3ftx3ftx3ft or 1cubic yard of finished compost, using this site to calculate, seems like we produced at least 465 pounds of compost, but this site suggests one yard of finished compost is closer to 1000 pounds (the sore muscles of the volunteer compost turner concur).
According to this site, 1 cubic yard of compost can cover 325 feet 1 inch deep – which should cover most of all of our gardeners’ spring planting needs.

Step 2 calculate the present volume of organics collected

step 2 compost

The community trudged to the frozen garden, covered with snow and ice all through the many months of that freezing winter weather, to compost their organics. By spring we had amassed a huge pile.  We wanted to measure their efforts before turning into the now empty middle bin.

 This pile was overflowing the bin, so conservatively calculating at 4ftx4ftx4ft, or, using this calculator,  64 cubic feet of food waste/garden waste and leaves were diverted from the landfill into this bin. The actual amount is probably more, as this pile is smoking hot, full of red wriggler worms and has been breaking down for the past 7 months.

Step 3 – calculate fall leaves left in the leaf bin.

step 3 leavesThese were raked up by community members and donated to the garden over the fall months. They mainly came from the parkland surrounding the Morris-Jumel Mansion, but also came from neighbor’s front stoops, sidewalks and yards.

This pile is huge, the bin is constructed of 4 pallets, cattle fencing and orange netting that used to hold the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of Thomas the Tank Engine. Its all held together with rope and bike tubes.
We need to come back to the garden to measure that volume. According to this site, dry leaves weigh 344.7lbs per cubic yard. This pile is perhaps 3 or 4 cubic yards?
We have applied for a SWAB Community Compost Grant to achieve even more organics diversion, stay tuned for more composting news from the garden!

Everyone is invited to the upcoming workshop: Managing a Feral Cat Colony in a Garden: Community Relations on Saturday 10/18 1-4pm (rain or shine). Here is a chance to see an established, “managed” cat colony which is resident in a NYC Green Thumb community garden. We will discuss what we have learned about managing a TNR’d (Trap Neuter and Return) cat

Too hanging out in the garden

Too hanging out in the garden

colony and show methods which allow them to coexist with and benefit the garden by keeping it rodent free. We will also visit other nearby TNR shelters and feeding stations in the neighborhood, including a church, a park, a parking lot and apartment building basement.

Harley eating dinner

Additional information:

All the cats are spayed, neutered and vaccinated against rabies. The cats don’t reproduce or fight with each other. They fend off most other cat-newcomers and keep the garden rat-free.

Gardeners can rest assured that there are no rat-burrows in their garden plots or rats hiding in the compost heap. We can garden; hold events and parties anytime, day or night, with no fear of the “beady red eyes” or gnaw-marks on our tomatoes.

Harley and Creampuff eating dinner

Harley and Creampuff eating dinner

We’ll show you how we constructed and placed feeding stations, cat shelters, and discuss how we have involved other volunteers. Perhaps you’ll even meet the cats …if they come out from their sleeping places.

If you are thinking of starting a feral cat colony, we will distribute information on where and how you can get further training in becoming a certified TNR Feral Cat Colony Manager. See links below.

Other TNR colony managers are welcome; we don’t have all the answers, we can all learn from each other.

Informational Links:

Cocoa Bean watching over the compost bin

Cocoa Bean watching over the compost bin



PayPal Donate Button <<– Click on this button to make an online donation to the Morris-Jumel Community Garden Fence Fund!! Thank You!

Thanks to generous donations we now only need $325.00 $275.00 to build this 6 foot tall vinyl coated chain-link fence at the back of the garden

Look for our tag sale in mid May!

Also upcoming – work days to clear away the old fence and debris in advance of the fence builders arrival.

Thanks for your contributions! Keep them coming!

???????????????????????????Here’s a picture of what the new fence will look like

 Are you willing and able to help? Click on the button above or stop by the garden with your donation. Look for tag sales and other fundraising efforts in the near future. Email elbelcher (at) gmail (dot) com if you want to make a donation by other means.

 Here’s what the fence looked like in Fall 2013, looks worse now.

PayPal Donate Button <<– Click on this button to make an online donation to the Morris-Jumel Community Garden Fence Fund!! Thank You!

we need $500.00 to match the money the garden has already raised to build a 6 foot tall vinyl coated chain-link fence.

Thanks for your contributions! Keep them coming!

???????????????????????????Here’s a picture of what the new fence will look like

 Are you willing and able to help? Click on the button above or stop by the garden with your donation. Look for tag sales and other fundraising efforts in the near future. Email elbelcher (at) gmail (dot) com if you want to make a donation by other means.

 Here’s what the fence looked like in Fall 2013, looks worse now.

Fence after Sandy 41

Since as long as anyone can remember, the back fence of the garden has been falling down.


No one knows when that rickety wooden fence was put up nor who installed it. Perhaps it’s as old as the garden, which is said to have been started in 1985.


It once was covered in poison ivy, and anyone working back there got it on them eventually. But hardworking, brave and very covered-up gardeners finally ripped that out by the roots and now we can all stop itching.


Now we just have the fence, or whats left of it, falling down bit by bit in each windstorm. Perhaps the poison ivy was what was holding it together?


We recently got some estimates for a new chain link fence, 6 foot tall. Seems we can get this done for less than $1,000.00.  Now we just have to find the money somewhere.

Does anyone want to donate to  help  us build a fence?


Behind that fence is a 20 foot drop into the empty lot that faces 163rd street.


We hope we can build this fence before it (or someone) falls into the lot below.Back view of the fence

On Saturday October 8th at noon, the garden will be presenting our Community Composting systems as well as art created by garden and community members.

Please stop by to see art and compost created by the community and learn how to make some yourself at home, backyard and garden. Artists & Master Composters will be available to answer your art and compost questions.

Please bring your bags of leaves and other compostables to contribute to our outdoor 3 bin, Bokashi and worm composting systems.

Everyone is welcome – please feel free to bring food & drink and your love of Art and/or Compost to share,

free refreshments (bring food to share).  Raindate: Sunday October 9.

In the last days, the garden has shown encouraging signs of spring. Chives and other early herbs have started to send out light green shoots (such as the lambs ears in the lower right of this photo).

The tips of irises (pictured), tulips and other early flowers are peeking out of the just-thawed soil.

Small signs of life that show many plants, bushes and trees survived this very harsh winter, and Spring is in the air.

The growing season will start soon in the garden, and the Green Thumb GrowTogether conference for all NYC gardeners is scheduled for April 2, 2011.

Between May through October, the garden will be open more than 20 hours a week.

On Saturdays and Sundays you can find the garden open 12-5pm (weather permitting). We will also be open many weekdays, often in the late afternoons and early evenings.

Anyone is free to visit the garden during whenever the gate is open. We are looking forward to seeing you at the garden!

3-year-olds from the Drew Hamilton Center meeting in the garden last year

The first general Meeting of the Morris-Jumel Community Garden will be on Saturday April 3rd at noon in the garden. Everyone is welcome.

We will welcome new members and garden friends and discuss our plans for the upcoming season.  Included in the meeting agenda will be repairing deteriorated gardening plots, and our falling-down garden fence along with other projects.

Don’t forget the upcoming Green Thumb GrowTogether NYC Community Gardener’s conference on March 20th at Hostos Community College.

The garden is still lush and green in the cool fall weather. Our collard greens and peppers are continuing to produce, and we still have plenty of flowers, herbs and the cool weather crops are growing.

Our October Garden Meeting is scheduled for Saturday October 17th at 11am. This will be a potluck and working meeting, so bring a dish and be prepared to get dirty!

Meeting agenda will be posted here next week.