Growing The African Mask & Getting A Compost Pile Hot

Question:

 I  have an indoor plant, but I'm not sure of its real name. My mother calls it Elephant Ears. The leaves are a very dark black, green color. However, it has not done well as the leaves keep dying. I don't know if it’s from too much or not enough water. What do I need to do to get it growing again? 

Answer:

  •  Elephant Ears is the common name for a group of plants called Alocasia.
    • It gets its name from the large green leaves whose shape resembles that of the ears of an African Elephant. African Mask is the name of the variety with the dark greenish black leaves used as a houseplant, and that is what I'm assuming you have.
  •  There could be several reasons for the leaves dying with water being one of them. If the leaves get brown and crispy, the plant is not getting enough water or going dry in between applications.
    • The entire root ball needs to get wet when you water. The easiest way to water indoor plants is to do so in a sink or out on the patio or deck. You can then fill each container to the brim several times, letting the water recede or drain. The frequency could be weekly or every ten days depending on the temperatures.
    •  Alocasia leaves turn yellow and go limp with too much water and then wither away. I’d also avoid leaving any water in a saucer as the excess water can wick back into the plant causing the lower portion of the plant to rot. Alocasias doesn’t like wet feet, so they need to dry out just a bit.
    • Alocasia doesn’t want to grow in low light or dark conditions. They prefer a location that gets lots of indirect, and bright light. So the closer they are to a window the better. They will tolerate direct sun but only the early morning sun during the summer months. And finally, I’d feed them with Osmocote three times a year to provide the necessary nutrients for year-round growth. 

Question:

I‘ve started a compost pile, but I am having trouble making it hot enough for it to decompose completely. How can I make my compost pile hotter?

Answer:

  • There are two general types of compost piles, active and passive.
  • Compost created by generating heat is called an active compost pile while the passive compost forms over an extended period of time.
  • Heat is generate rated by physically turning the material often. Also, the proper balance of green and brown material is necessary.
    • A fifty-fifty ratio is recommended. Grass clippings, garden trimmings, and kitchen wastes are primarily used for the green component while dry leaves make up the brown. Shredded newspapers, cardboard strips, or straw are expectable substitutes. It’s also advisable to bag the falling leaves and store them for next year. The green and brown layers are alternated to form the pile. The key to building up heat is turning the pile constantly. The pile is physically flipped, as the bottom becomes the top and the top the bottom. When done correctly, you create sufficient heat to create the ideal compost.