Move over Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Gardeners at the Minnesota State Fair are lining up to see Ginny Black.
"Some people call me the composting queen," Black says with a laugh.
The Plymouth woman is a composting expert with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. She’s been talkin' trash at the fair for more than a decade, but she says the topic never gets old.
"It always amazes me," says Black. "Every year we think maybe it won't be so busy this year; and every year it’s busy."
She and other experts are at the Eco Experience in the northeast corner of the Fairgrounds to coach people on composting.
On display are four different types of compost bins. A sophisticated double bin, which looks like it’s made by a professional, holds layers of compost material in different stages of decomposition.
New to this exhibit is a simple compost container made out of hardware cloth she formed into a cylinder. Black says anybody could go to the hardware store, buy about $25 worth of hardware cloth or chicken wire and start using it for composting immediately.
Also new is a bin she made in her garage out of old wooden pallets.
The type that gets the most attention from little fairgoers is the worm bin.
"This is really for people who live in apartments or townhomes that want to take care of just their food scraps," says Black.
She says composting will only work with "Red Wiggler" worms and pretty much the only place you can get them is on the Internet. A pound of worms will feed a half a pound of food. She says, buy a pound of worms, start with a half pound of food and gradually add more food.
Black says she fields many questions about composting. Perhaps the most common topic is dry compost bins. She says people often complain of ants, mice or snakes in their bins. She says those kinds of critters look for nice, dry warm places. If you add enough water, it’ll keep them out.
"I always tell them you should be able to grab a handful of leaves and get beads of moisture between your fingers," she says, "and that’s the dampness of a rung out sponge."
Black says she feels like she's giving a mini-class every 20 minutes.
"I’m not sure I’ll have a voice by Monday when I get through with the fair," she says. "But, you know, it’s fun. I like talking to people."
August 31, 2012