Homemade Compost Accelerator

The process of hot composting can take up to 6 months, but you can accelerate the process by giving your compost a compost accelerator. Compost accelerators help kick-start the microbes into consuming the organic material in your compost bin.

Shred all leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, clover and dry compost with a lawn mower or garden shears to give the microbes more surfaces to eat at a time. Shredding compost can help speed the decomposition process it without the use of chemicals.

Add more nitrogen-rich organic material, such as grass clippings, urine or clover to your garden to boost the activity of microbes. Microbes will consume nitrogen rich green organic material faster than they will carbon-filled brown organic material such as shredded leaves.

Place a handful of garden soil or finished compost into to your new compost pile to start the composting process. Garden soil and finished compost both contain microbes that help to break down the compost. Adding soil will add the microbes to activate the process of composting.

Turn your compost frequently with a garden fork to speed up the activity of the microbes. This helps to distribute them more completely throughout the compost pile and help them find the undigested organic material to work on.

Control the pH of your compost by adding urine or Lyme when you turn your compost. Microbes are most active when compost is in the neutral ranges between 6.0 and 8.0. To raise the pH of your compost, add lime. To lower it, add animal urine or other nitrogen-rich substances.

Pumpkin Pie Cocktail


  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin
  • 1 ounce half-and-half
  • 1 ounce spiced rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons whipped topping
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice


Combine the ice cream, ice, pumpkin, half-and-half, rum, and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until smooth. Pour into a serving glass; top with whipped topping, sprinkle with pinch of pumpkin pie spice.


Many types of trees shed their leaves as a strategy to survive harsh weather conditions. In temperate forests across the Northern Hemisphere, trees shed their leaves during autumn as cold weather approaches. In tropical and subtropical forests, trees shed their leaves at the onset of the dry season. Trees that lose all of their leaves for part of the year are known as deciduous trees. Those that don’t are called evergreen trees.

Shedding leaves helps trees to conserve water and energy. As unfavorable weather approaches, hormones in the trees trigger the process of abscission whereby the leaves are actively cut-off of the tree by specialized cells.

At the start of the abscission process, trees reabsorb valuable nutrients from their leaves and store them for later use in their roots. Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color, is one of the first molecules to be broken down for its nutrients. This is one of the reasons why trees turn red, orange, and gold colors during the fall. At the end of the abscission process, when the leaves have been shed, a protective layer of cells grows over the exposed area.

Common deciduous trees in Illiana include several species of ash, aspen, beech, birch, cherry, elm, hickory, hornbeam, maple, oak, poplar and willow.


You will never go wrong with a Jack-O-Lantern variety for carving. They were bred just for that purpose. They have stiff straight walls, fibrous flesh that can stand up to being carved, and hollow cavities perfect for holding candles. There are several other varieties that can be carved also. The Lumina is particularly fun to carve. The interior flesh is orange. When a candle is placed inside is gives off an eerie glow through its ghostly-white skin.

Physical characteristics to look for in choosing a quality and fresh Jack-O-Lantern:

  • Choose a pumpkin that feels firm and heavy for its size.
  • Choose a pumpkin that has consistent coloring throughout.
  • Turn the pumpkin over and place pressure on the bottom with your thumbs. If it flexes or gives your pumpkin is not fresh.
  • Look for soft spots, mold, wrinkles or open cuts that would indicate damage or early spoilage.
  • Choose a pumpkin with a solidly attached stem.
  • A green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin.
  • Place your pumpkin on a flat surface to check to see if it will sit flat after being carved.

Wisconsin Agriculture: A History By Jerry Apps

Wisconsin has been a farming state from its very beginnings. And though it’s long been known as “the Dairy State,” it produces much more than cows, milk, and cheese. In fact, Wisconsin is one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation.

The story of farming in Wisconsin is rich and diverse as well, and the threads of that story are related and intertwined. In this long-awaited volume, celebrated rural historian Jerry Apps examines everything from the fundamental influences of landscape and weather to complex matters of ethnic and pioneer settlement patterns, changing technology, agricultural research and education, and government regulations and policies. Along with expected topics, such as the cranberry industry and artisan cheese-making, “Wisconsin Agriculture” delves into beef cattle and dairy goats, fur farming and Christmas trees, maple syrup and honey, and other specialty crops, including ginseng, hemp, cherries, sugar beets, mint, sphagnum moss, flax, and hops. Apps also explore new and rediscovered farming endeavors, from aquaculture to urban farming to beekeeping, and discusses recent political developments, such as the 2014 Farm Bill and its ramifications. And he looks to the future of farming, contemplating questions of ethical growing practices, food safety, sustainability, and the potential effects of climate change.

Featuring first-person accounts from the settlement era to today, along with more than 200 captivating photographs, “Wisconsin Agriculture” breathes life into the facts and figures of 150 years of farming history and provides compelling insights into the state’s agricultural past, present, and future.

Cauliflower Harvest

As the head (curd) begins to grow, it will eventually become discolored and bitter tasting from sunlight. To avoid this, cauliflower is often blanched to keep the sun off the head and whiten the cauliflower. Generally, this is done when the head reaches about the size of a tennis ball, or 2-3 inches in diameter. Simply pull up about three or four large leaves and tie or fasten them loosely around the cauliflower head. Some people cover them with pantyhose too.

Since the cauliflower head develops rather quickly in ideal growing conditions, it will usually be ready for harvest within a week or two after the blanching process. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it to determine when to harvest cauliflower and avoid its becoming too mature, which results in grainy cauliflower. You’ll want to pick the cauliflower once the head is full but before it has begun to separate, usually at about 6-12 inches in diameter is when to cut cauliflower.

The mature head should be firm, compact, and white. When you’re ready to harvest the cauliflower head, cut it from the main stem but leave a few of the outer leaves attached to help protect the head and prolong its overall quality until ready to eat. Be sure to handle the head carefully as it can bruise rather easily.

Once harvested, it’s usually recommended that you soak the head in salt water (2 tbsp to 1 gal) for about 20-30 minutes. This will help expel any cabbageworms that may be hiding out inside the head. These pests will quickly come out and die so the head will not only be safe to eat but can be stored without worrying about having it feasted on. Cauliflower keeps best when frozen or canned but it will keep for up to a week or so in the refrigerator if wrapped in protective saran wrap.

October is a symphony of permanence and change. – Bonaro W. Overstreet