City and Borough of Sitka makes free compost and mulch available to home gardeners

The City and Borough of Sitka Department of Public Works is making free compost and mulch available to Sitka gardeners.

The Public Works Department has been making compost from its grass and other garden clippings in recent years, and also has a big pile of mulch from its landscaping projects. The two piles are stored near the Kimsham ball fields near Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. The compost and mulch is available on a first-come, first-served basis from Friday, May 17, until it runs out.

While the compost does not have food waste in it, there is a chance it might have weeds. The compost and mulch is not for commercial use, and only for home gardeners. No dumping is allowed, and users are requested to keep the area clean so it is safe for others. Once the compost and mulch is gone, the program will end until next spring.

The compost and mulch are the result of regular Public Works Department landscaping work. The piles may vary each year, depending on city operations. The piles will be restocked each April-May, pending the city’s spring maintenance program, and will occur about the time spring mowing starts.

For more information about the program, contact the Public Works Department at 747-1806 or at publicworks@cityofsitka.org.

• Local merchants provide coffee grounds, spent beer grain for garden compost

Alana Peterson shows where gardeners can find used coffee grounds from the Back Door Café.

Alana Peterson shows where gardeners can find used coffee grounds from the Back Door Café.

Sitka’s constant rains tend to wash the nutrients from our soil, which means many Sitka gardeners also use compost to build new soil. Some local merchants provide used coffee grounds and spent beer grain so gardeners can add them to their compost piles.

Alana Peterson of the Back Door Café (104 Barracks St.) said the person who normally collects her business’ used coffee grounds has reached his max capacity, so now they are available for other gardeners to gather. She usually puts them in one of the plastic containers outside the main entrance to the shop, under the tree by the large black plastic garbage container. The coffee grounds are in plastic bags, so they’re easy for gardeners to grab.

The Baranof Island Brewing Company, aka BIBCO (215 Smith St.), provides free spent beer grain for gardeners. The spent grain is kept in a tote near the brewery’s Tap Room, and gardeners need to bring their own buckets to carry the grain home (a shovel is in the tote).

At both businesses the compost items are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please double-check with the merchants if you have any questions.