Tools to collect rainwater and make compost

Until Jan. 28 at 11 p.m., you can buy compost bins and rain barrels online or by phone for pick-up at an upcoming (Feb. 3) truckload event. Log into RainBarrelProgram.org/VenturaCounty, or call (919) 835-1699 to order these tools for saving resources and improving your garden.

Collecting rainwater can save thousands of gallons of water. The roof space of the average two-car garage yields 360 gallons of water from just one inch of rain, according to rainbarrelguide.com. Reusing rainwater on plants is especially useful in areas of Ventura County where tap water has high mineral content. High calcium and magnesium levels can damage plants, but these problems are reduced by the salt-free water of rain.

Saving rain water also saves energy — moving water is the single largest user of electricity in California — and reduces runoff through storm drains, which can carry pollution to the ocean.

Similarly, backyard composting has both gardening and environmental benefits. Compost adds nutrients to soil and improves soil texture. Backyard composting also saves energy; organic waste diverted from curbside collection reduces energy required to transport and process yard clippings at commercial facilities.

Bins and barrels will not be available for purchase the day of the event, but if you miss the deadline, some local home improvement stores and garden shops stock these items year-round.

More information: rainbarrelprogram.org/venturacounty; cleanwatershed.org

Free, whole treecycling option ending soon

Free curbside pickup of whole Christmas trees ended weeks ago, but the last of the county’s drop-off sites is still open for celebrants who kept the holiday spirit alive as far into winter as possible.

Oxnard residents may bring trees free to the Del Norte Regional Recycling & Transfer Station until January 27, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use the roll-off container next to the buyback center, off Del Norte Blvd.

Year round drop-off sites for yard clippings are also available for whole trees, and their charges are lower than the cost of landfilling. This includes Ojai Valley Organics, at the end of Old Baldwin Road; Agromin Organics, 6859 Arnold Road, near Oxnard; Agromin at the Simi Valley Landfill, 2801 Madera Road; and Peach Hill Soils, at 10765 W. Los Angeles Ave., near Moorpark.

Of course, the best treecycling method for the environment, requiring the least amount of engine idling and transportation, is for you to cut your tree into segments and fit the pieces into your regular curbside yard waste recycling cart. As long as your tree is free of decorations, stands or other items, it will be mulched with your other yard clippings. Fire-proofed trees should not be placed in recycling containers.

A final option is to use your free curbside bulky item collection. The County and most local cities contract with your refuse hauler to provide you with at least one free large item pickup per year. Call your hauler for details.

‘Twas the month after Christmas and in curbside carts
Were the last options for trees, cut up in parts.
No more whole tree collection from the street;
To discard whole, use your car’s back seat,
and go to a drop-off to dispose a tree whole.
While there, pick up mulch for weed control.
Compost and mulch trees if you want to conserve
give your tree new life as a way to observe.