Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Fairmount Organic Recycling Center

An old post but it's still valuable information for Philadelphia residents. Need compost take your buckets, ID and get some compost for your garden. 

Lauren McEwen
If you are a Philadelphia resident and a gardener, then RUN, don't walk to the the Fairmount Organic Recycling Center located at 3850 Ford Road in Fairmount Park.

It may not look like much from the entrance, but you've come to the right place!

The Organic Recycling Center is an amazing resource that many gardeners don't realize they have access to. For residential use, city residents may obtain free compost, mulch, wood chips and herbivore manure. Residents are allowed to take up to 30-gallons of material per trip, and to make up to two trips per week. Giant logs are also available for cutting into firewood at no charge. You must provide your own tools, and a chain saw and splitter are recommended for cutting logs into firewood. For the organic materials, I would suggest bringing gardening gloves, a shovel, and a tarp or plastic sheeting to protect your trunk from any spillage.

Residents that wish to obtain more than the free allotment must purchase the materials. Non-residents, landscapers, garden centers, contractors and soil dealers can also purchase materials, which can be loaded into trucks and trailers with a front end loader by Park Staff. 

The Organic Recycling Center Office is the building in the center.

Upon arrival, residents must stop in the office to provide their driver's license to Recycling Center staff to demonstrate proof of residency. Residents must also complete a daily log-in sheet and waiver form prior to loading materials onto their vehicles. There are a few shovels in the office that you may borrow, but I would suggest bringing your own. 

Today I'm here for mulch.

For those driving cars, you can pull up directly next to the huge piles of organic material to load your containers. Trucks (even non-commercial ones) are not allowed in this area. Folks driving trucks must stay parked by the office and then load their containers onto a provided cart to wheel them over.

I like to bring six 5-gallon containers because I can still lift them when full.

I'm not able to produce enough of my own compost at home to fulfill all of my gardening needs, so the Organic Recycling Center is a resource that I greatly appreciate and use often. Maybe on my next trip I'll see you there!

The Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center is located at:
3850 Ford Road, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 7:30AM-3PM

Saturday Hours:
April 1 - October 31

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Orchids: A Splash of Color to Brighten a Long Winter

What can be better on a cold, grey, winter day than stepping into a greenhouse bursting with color from exotic plants? Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square has an annual Orchid Extravaganza from January through March, with hundreds of orchids on display. You will find everything from more common plants such as Phalaenopsis, to rare gems such Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl', in many colors and creative displays.

One of the many orchid "trees" on display at Longwood Gardens.

The lovely Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' not only looks beautiful, but it also has a subtle but pleasant spicy scent.
Growing Your Own Orchids
You can also enjoy the winter beauty of orchids in your own home, and having a windowsill full of blooming orchids is easier than you may think. With proper care, blooms will return year after year. Phalaenopsis, commonly referred to as moth orchids, bloom for extended periods of time and are readily available (you can even find them at many grocery stores). Here are a few pointers to keep your plants healthy:
  • Potting medium: When you purchase an orchid, it will often be in a pot full of bark. Never transplant orchids to regular potting soil, as the specialized roots need the aeration that a loose medium provides.
  • Light: Most orchids do best with all day exposure to bright, indirect light. 
  • Water: Careful watering is important to keep orchids hydrated, but not too wet. Watering once a week is typically sufficient, though be sure that the potting medium is dry before adding more water. To increase humidity in the winter, you can place orchid pots on a tray with pebbles covered in water. 
  • Fertilizer: You can use either a regular 20-20-20 fertilizer or an orchid-specific fertilizer. Apply a weak solution monthly to your regular watering
Whether you enjoy them at a greenhouse such as Longwood, or at home, the exotic flowers of orchids are sure to add some sunshine and color to your winter day.