• Visit Agromin at the Ventura County Fair - Aug. 5 - 16
    Thursday, July 23, 2009 at
  • Learn how the proper use of soil and mulch in your garden can save on water usage while helping your plants grow larger and healthier by checking out Agromin's display at the Ventura County Fair. Agromin will be in the fair's Flora Culture garden area. The fair runs from August 5 through August 16 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds (off Highway 101 in Ventura at the corner of Harbor and Figueroa).

    Last year, Agromin was a blue ribbon winner in the education category. Agromin showed how it recycles green materials collected from residential green recycling bins and turns the materials into soil products. This year, the Agromin's display will tell a water conservation story--particularly timely, as cities are requiring residents to conserve. Watering landscapes make up the bulk of residential water use.

    Here's your chance to learn water saving tips for the garden from the experts at Agromin!

    For more information about the fair go to www.venturacountyfair.org.

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  • Your green waste, recycled
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at

  • Urban-to-agriculture solution a win-win for all

    July 18, 2009

    Let's face it, most of us don't compost. And most of us don't use a mulching lawn mower, either.

    That means, especially during the spring and summer, our green waste barrels are overstuffed and really heavy as we wheel them out to the curb for trash-collection day.

    As we struggle to keep from crushing our toes, to keep the dog from getting out the gate and to keep from wrenching our backs, we remind ourselves that we are doing a good thing.

    After all, the green waste is being "recycled," isn't it?

    But what does that really mean? Is someone turning our soggy, sweating, stinky lawn clippings into new plants?

    In a way, yes.

    Bill Camarillo is the CEO of Agromin, the green materials recycler for communities throughout Ventura County (and the SCV) and a manufacturer of premium soil products.

    "We've been managing the city of Santa Clarita's green waste since 1995," he said.

    And, through composting, that green waste ends up as mulch and soil amendments for farmers, landscapers and individual consumers.

    "Everybody wants to make sure their barrel gets picked up. We want to be sure it gets processed responsibly," Camarillo said.

    He explained that both Burrtec and Waste Management (the major trash haulers in the SCV) take their green waste to Agromin.

    The waste used to be hauled to facilities in Ventura County, but is now processed locally.

    "We process it all on a ranch on The Newhall Land and Farming Company's land," he said. This facility is just off Highway 126 but out of sight from the highway.

    Camarillo said he was very proud of "making that urban to agriculture connection and managing it locally."

    The local processing benefits the environment because far less diesel fuel is used by the haulers to get the green waste to the facility--and less fuel burned means less air pollution.

    Camarillo described the steps in the green waste recycling process:

    1. "We receive the material from the collectors and we clean it."

    2. "Then we chip it. We have to shred it down to three-inch material."

    3. "Then we compost it. It heats up to 131 to 161 degrees. We do that for 15 days. It kills the pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli. It also kills weed seeds."

    4. "We cure it for 30 days, and bring the temperature back down."

    5. "After curing, we screen it into different particle sizes — two-inch for mulch and 'fine,' three-eighths-inch or less, for soil amendments."

    Camarillo said that much of the resulting material is used for agriculture right there on the ranch land.

    "The orchards use the mulch and the row crops use the fine material."
    There are many benefits for putting it back in the ground, according to Camarillo.

    "It's pretty tremendous," he said. "It reduces water usage, it reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, and it reduces the need for commercial fertilizers. Beyond that the mulch blocks weeds from growing and it reduces soil erosion.

    "We provide the material to the ranch as part of closing the loop for the valley," he said, and he explained that the process is paid for by the trash haulers.

    Camarillo said that Agromin provides soil materials free to the local Earth Day celebration each year and to schools.

    The company also provides it for landscape projects in the SCV and Ventura County.

    "We call it an urban to ag solution. It's a win-win for the community," he said.

    He added that it creates a sustainable yield process for the agriculture side. "It's a pretty good program."

    While most people would understand the logic of using green waste for agriculture instead of filling up landfills with it, many don't realize there is a far more important benefit.

    "Green waste going into landfills produces methane gas," Camarillo said.

    And he explained that methane gas produced in landfills is actually two to three times more concentrated than carbon dioxide, as far as being a greenhouse gas.

    "I think the Santa Clarita green waste stream is some 40,000 to 50,000 tons a year. It's equivalent to about 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide," he said.

    Finally, Camarillo said the community should be very proud of how its green waste is being managed.

    "With us, and themselves, we have created a great, sustainable, organic recycling program. It's one to be modeled across the country, actually," he said. "It's created locally and managed locally."

    He added that Agromin is the eighth-largest composter in the country, and, in 2008, was named the U.S. Composter of the Year.

    Agromin recently moved its headquarters, maintenance facility and wholesale operations to Oxnard.

    Previously housed in sites throughout the county, its consolidation into a centrally located, 6,000 square foot facility will cut down on employee driving.

    "With less employees on the road, we will reduce our carbon footprint," Camarillo said. "And, because everything is under one roof, we can better coordinate our production and business services."

    Agromin's new location is at 201 Kinetic Drive, Oxnard, CA 93030. The telephone number is 1-800-247-6646. Commercial wholesale bulk soil products (no retail) are available at the facility.

    There is a wealth of information available at the Agromin Web site, www.agromin.com, including how-to guides for things such as putting down sod, container gardening, mulching your garden, planting bulb and bare root fruit trees, and more.

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  • Container Gardening for Vegetables
    Friday, July 10, 2009 at

  • Many living spaces do not have ample room to plant vegetable gardens. One option is container gardening. Nutritious and fresh vegetables can be grown in containers on a balcony, patio or windowsill.

    Crop Selection

    Containers are ideal for almost any vegetable that would thrive in a backyard garden. Vegetables that are specifically suited for containers are peppers, green onions, tomatoes, beans, radishes squash, parsley, cucumber, eggplant and beans. Carrots also grow well in containers if the container is deep enough (eight inches).

    Ideal Soil For Container Gardening

    Container-grown vegetables do best in soil made of woodchips, sawdust, perlite, vermiculite or a variety of other materials. The four most important criteria regardless of the soil mixture are that it 1) be free of weed seeds and disease, 2) can retain nutrients and moisture, 3) can drain well and 4) is lightweight. Many products contain nutrients in the soil so fertilizing is unnecessary.


    You can use just about any container to plant your vegetables including bushel baskets, wooden boxes or containers specifically designed for container gardening. Green onions, parsley and herbs thrive in pots from six to 10 inches in size. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplant are best suited in larger containers.

    Adequate drainage is very important for container growing. Place about one inch of gravel in the bottom of the container before adding soil. This will help improve drainage. If your container doesn't have drain holes, drill them yourself-- about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the bottom.

    Seeding and Transplanting

    You can purchase transplants from your local garden center or nursery to place in your container, but you can also grow the plants from seed at home. Use a baking pan to germinate your own seeds. Fill the pan with soil and plant the seeds to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

    Place the baking pan in an area that receives adequate warmth and sunlight about four to eight weeks before planting them in the final container. The general rule is to transplant the seeds once they show their first two or three real leaves. Be careful when transplanting so you don't injure the root system.


    Full sunlight is ideal for almost all vegetables. However, some plants can do well in partial shade: lettuce, greens, cabbage and spinach. Root vegetables actually prefer more shade than those that bear fruit. An advantage to container growing is that you can move the containers as needed.

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