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Spring Market in San Jose, Automatic Composter

This Saturday, April 1, 2006, will be the day of the 12th Annual Garden Market in San Jose. It will be held from 9 to 2 at a new location: The Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park (exit 880 Brokaw East or 101 Old Oakland North). There will be huge plant sale, with over 70 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and as many of sweet or hot peppers, plus much more. Common Ground of Palo Alto will have a booth. The event is sponsored by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County.

At the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, I was offered information about many businesses and products. One novel product was a automatic compost maker that can be used indoors to compost kitchen scraps. It can handle scraps and paper waste for up to 5 people, making a high nitrogen compost every 2 weeks. It includes a heating element to help the bacteria along that need high temperature to decay the scraps. I asked about energy use, and was told it takes about as much power as a typical night light, or about 50 cents worth of power a month, or less than it costs to haul the same waste in a diesel garbage truck to a landfill or municipal composting program. The machine is 22" x 22" x 14" and plugs into a standard electrical outlet. It automatically mixes and aerates the compost as it is decomposing.

It seems to  me that this might be a good alternative for disabled gardeners. I asked if they had found a market among older gardeners, and they said they had indeed. They had expected more sales among younger gardeners, but were surprised to find the average age of  their customers was much higher than expected.

I was thinking of my Dad, who was still composting actively at 89, but gradually lost the ability to even carry his scraps out and bury them around his fruit trees. Now, when he is 99, his scraps go into the recycling bin or even, often, the garbage. Had he learned to use this composter several years ago, he might have been able to teach his caregivers how to do it, and might now still be able to compost and use the compost to help his fruit trees.

If you want to take a look at this innovative equipment, check it out at


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