Helping the Cub Scouts Compost

Listen 00:52:59

Why are cub scouts punching holes in trash cans? Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden, will puncture some holes in this ill-advised concept and suggest how scouts of all ages can learn to make great black gold! Plus: answers to all your growing questions.

Question of the Week:

“I’ve listened to your podcast for a couple of years and know that you are the king of compost. That’s why I’m writing. Boy Scouts of America has a new program designed to teach Cub Scouts about composting. But they’re telling the kids to dig a hole in their back yard and sink a trash can with holes drilled into it into the hole. That’s a big task to ask of some families. Is there another way they can make their own compost out of food scraps? I’m attaching the Scout handout on the trash can method. How would you go about teaching eight-year-old youngsters about composting? “

— Jim, a Cubmaster in Illinois

Learn more about composting »

Highlights from show:

Chemicals in the Lawn

Patty in Edmond, OK is concerned about the chemicals that her lawn people have been spraying to take care of her grubs. She loves a lot of the things that these chemicals have been doing, namely killing Japanese Beetle grubs, but she is worried that they might be killing her beneficials, like earthworms and ground nesting bees. Mike says that she is right to be concerned, because, as he puts it, if you haven’t made an arrangement ahead of time, they’re probably spreading harsh chemicals on there, and while it’ll do a great job of killing those grubs, it’ll kill everything else living in that lawn. Mike recommends that she have them put down Milky Spore, a naturally-occurring soil organism that’s been sold in the states for more than fifty years. Right now is the best time to put down Milky Spore, as the soil is now warm enough to apply, and the grubs are feeding right now, so they’re especially susceptible right now. He also mentions Gardens Alive’s brand new variety of BT, known as BTG, which is quite effective against all beetles. It comes in two forms, one effective against adult insects which you spray on plant leaves, known as beetleJUS, and one you sprinkle on your lawn to take care of grubs, known as grubHALT. grubHALT works similarly to Milky Spore, and like Milky Spore, both varieties of BTG will not harm the environment and only affect beetles, especially those in the scarab family. Mike closes by telling her to “Go and sin no more!”

Planting Fall Crops

Pete from Wilmington, DE is looking to plant a few things that’ll grow in the fall, and if now is the right time to plant fall crops. Mike says that fall is a great time for growing. Mike himself just planted his fall crops a few weeks ago, but it is not too late to plant by any means. All that you need to do is take some plants out of the beds, level the soil, saturate the soil with water, spread lettuce seeds all over that, not unlike a lawn, then cover those seeds with a loose soil-free mix, and then finally, gently mist the surface. The reason you want to water the undersoil so much more is so that you keep as much of that seed in place as possible. Within the week, that lettuce will begin to sprout. Let it keep growing, and then once it’s four to six inches tall, go out and cut it with a pair of scissors, leaving about an inch attached to the root system. It’ll grow right back. If we have a gentle winter, it’ll survive, and you can harvest again in the spring, and they’ll definitely survive if you decide to invest in a row cover. “I love the second season. These crops are a lot less picky than the boys of summer.”

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