Jan’s Garden

Due to the rising cases of Covid-19, we are not currently hosting tours, workshops, or volunteer sessions. Please stay tuned and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Sprout

In 2018, in conjunction with the grand opening of the Perot Family Campus, NTFB also broke ground on a sustainable, small-scale learning garden in honor of our late President and CEO, Jan Pruitt. Access to fresh produce is critical to the success of the North Texas Food Bank and to the health of the neighbors we serve.

NTFB is excited to operate a learning and demonstration garden that acts as a living and breathing display of nutritious food options. Jan's Garden offers tours and programming for all local community groups who desire to learn first-hand about the impact that healthful food choices can make.

Composting 101

What is Compost?

Compost is organic matter created by microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) when they break down the carbon and nitrogen-rich materials in the compost pile.

Ingredients:

  • Nitrogen (green materials; wetter)
  • Carbon (brown materials; drier)
  • Water (enough to keep it moist not wet)
  • Oxygen (provided by turning the pile)

Benefits of Composting:

  • Helps retain moisture in the soil
  • Creates a better environment in the soil for beneficial bacteria and fungi that help break down organic matter for plants, which they love and need!
  • Reduces household waste

What Should I Add to my Compost Pile?

Do Add: Greens/Nitrogen-rich materials: veggie and fruit scraps, grass clippings, hair, eggshells, coffee grounds, flower trimmings or weeds (careful of seeds!), animal manure (except dog or cat), and fireplace ash (neutral)

Browns/Carbon-rich materials: sawdust, wood chips, twigs, cardboard, shredded paper/newspaper, coffee filters, cornstalks, hay, leaves, and dryer lint

Do Not Add: raw meats and bones, fatty or greasy foods, dairy products, dog or cat manure, lime peels, diseased plants or plants treated with chemicals

What a Compost Pile Needs

Note: Many materials can be used to create a bin: bricks or pavers, wire mesh, wood or use a trashcan with ventilation holes.

Hot Composting: Hands-on method that requires frequent attention, but pile decomposes fast (ready in a few weeks or months).

  • Equal mix of layered nitrogen (greens) and carbon materials (browns) required.
  • Internal temperature should stay between 90°F and 140°F. Check with thermometer or if it’s too hot to touch.
  • Pile should be watered periodically but never wet.
  • Turn pile at least once or twice a week to add oxygen.

Cold Composting: Hands-off method that requires little attention, but pile takes long time to decompose (can take more than a year).

  • Add yard waste to the pile as you accumulate it and let it sit in a pile or bin.
  • Mulching leaves or yard waste before adding it to the pile will help speed up the decomposing process.

Troubleshooting: It can take some trial and error

Ways to Use Compost

Compost Tea
Great for fast-acting nutrients and adding beneficial microbes.

  1. Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water
  2. Let sit for 24 hrs to remove chlorine. Chlorine kills the good microbes in the compost.
  3. Add a few handfuls of compost to the bucket and stir twice a day to add air for microbes
  4. Let sit for 24-48 hrs and apply through drenching or watering can
  5. Use air pump so no stirring required
  6. Put compost in pillowcase or pantyhose and tie at top to make “tea bag” for steeping

Compost Tower
Constant addition of microbes, nutrients, air, and moisture directly to bed.

  1. Drill holes into the sides and bottom of a 5-gallon bucket using a spade drill bit
  2. Dig a hole int eh bed that is the same depth as the bucket and place bucket in hole
  3. Fill bucket with items to compost (same items as regular compost pile) and a handful or two of compost
  4. Add a bit of water to moisten, if needed, and place top on bucket. Replenish items in bucket as needed.
  5. Watch worms eat the food scraps and add air tunnels in the soil
  6. Worm castings will add more nutrients to the bed

Soil Amendment

  • Add directly into hole or container when planting
  • Mix into top 2-6” of soil twice a year
  • Lay a 2-4” layer on top of the soil as mulch

Vermicomposting

This is similar to a regular compost pile by using food scraps, paper, moisture, and the right temp. However, this method uses worms to help break down the materials, as well as add oxygen to the pile by creating air spaces when they move (no turning needed). The nutrient-rich scraps in the pile are turned into nutrient-rich compost for the plants once it passes through the worm’s body.

Tips:

  • Any type of container will work so long as there is air flow through holes or a loose lid and the bottom is enclosed
    • It may be beneficial to use a wider and shallower container vs. deep and tall since worms like to stay near the surface of the soil
  • Use Red Wriggler worms (easily found online)
  • Try not to overfeed the worms. Don’t add new food scraps until they’ve begun eating what is already in the bin
  • Worms like food that is cut into small pieces
  • Temperature of the bin should stay between 60°F and 80°F
    • Bring bin inside if weather will be below 40°F for an extended period of time

How Many Worms do I Need?

Use ½-1 lb. of worms for every square foot of the bin.

OR

(# lbs of waste per week / 7) x 2 = (recommended worm weight)

How to Harvest Compost

Fun Facts about Worms

  • Worms are hermaphrodites (have both male and female reproductive parts)
  • Don’t worry if some worms die. They reproduce quickly!
  • Don’t remove dead worms. They will become compost.

Click here for a PDF version of Composting 101

Container Gardening 101

No matter how much gardening space you have, (a few acres or raised beds, a balcony, or a windowsill) you can grow healthy food in your home. Fruits and vegetables can flourish in a container on your windowsill or on your patio. Here are a few tips on how to start your own.

Tips to Remember:

  • Make sure your pot has a hole in the bottom for drainage.
  • Use a saucer under the pot to catch excess water.
  • Stop watering the plant when you see water coming out of the bottom.
  • Fertilize your plants once a week or once every two weeks.
  • Be sure to pick a container wide and deep enough for your plants to grow to full size (12” or 14” pots recommended).
  • To check if your plant needs water, stick your finger into the soil to your knuckle. If it’s dry, your plant is thirsty!

How to Plant Your Container Garden:

  • Fill your pot about ¾ with soil.
  • Plant 2-3 seeds for each plant you want to grow.
  • Water the pot until the soil is thoroughly moist or until water comes out of the bottom of the pot.

From Scraps to Produce: Kitchen Scraps that can be Replanted

We often throw away fruit and vegetable parts that we don’t use or want when we could recycle them to grow more! These are just a few of the many fruits and veggie scraps that can be regrown into food or used to start your own garden!

Note: For peppers, pumpkins and tomatoes just wash, dry overnight, then plant the seeds.

Click here for a PDF version of Container Gardening 101