Sunday, January 24, 2010

Throw It In the Compost Bin

With the onset of warmer weather, I have been itching to get my garden going... so much so that I'm even not minding the idea of pulling weeds.  Yes, I'm missing the garden that much!!  Of course, it's too early to plant anything yet... but in order to feel like I'm moving in that direction... I just have to get outside and get dirty.  So...yesterday, we pulled the finish compost out of our compost bin and added about a 2" layer of compost to our garden site.

When we first moved into our home nearly 3 years ago, one of the first things we decided to do was to start composting.  At first, we didn't have a bin so everyday we saved all of our compostables-- things that will biodegrade and turn to compost-- and buried them in our future garden space.  After a couple of months, we started our garden and built a compost bin.  Now I must confess that from the moment we started composting I have had this LOVE for it!!!  The reasons vary, such as: Not having to use trash bags because I have no "wet" garbage; saving a valuable resource from going to the landfill; reduction in my overall trash; I never have to buy a soil amendment... my compost is FREE; and, of course,  experimenting!!  Every time we turn it, I am amazed at what I see...(like the time I turned the pile and saw a paper plate that looked like it had been burned or a corn-based plastic cup that had melted-- I used to have a picture, but I can't seem to find it).  I think it is so cool.... yes, it's so dorky to say;)... but it IS so cool.  I'm just amazed by the fact that we can put in all of these things... kitchen/table scraps, paper, Ben & Jerry's ice cream containers, corn-based plastics, leaves, and more.... and by the wonder of nature it turns into the most beautiful dirt (yes, in my world dirt can be beautiful).  It's so dark and rich and full of everything that our gardens-- vegies, flowers, herbs-- need to grow and thrive.

So... whenever people come to my house... it seems like they are most intrigued by the compost bin-- several friends have started their own... YAY!!  Also, when we have parties or when family and friends come to stay with us... I have to give a lesson in composting because if you come to my house... yes, you will have to partake in composting. :)

Also... let me say... don't dismiss the idea of composting just because you live in an apartment or have a small yard... trust me... you can still compost!  My friend, a super hero in disguise, LOVES vermicomposting-- oh yeah... that's worms!  She keeps a small rubbermaid tub under her kitchen sink!  And, nope... it doesn't smell.  If you just have a small yard check out the compost tumblers :)

Composting: The non-expert... keep as much as I can out of the trash can...girl that likes to experiment... throw it in and see what happens way ;)

What you can compost is very simple.  If it came from the Earth-- paper, cotton (e.g: dryer lint), vegies, fruit, leaves, etc, etc.-- give it back to the Earth.

Things I compost include (but definitely are not limited to):

All table/kitchen scraps (moldy bread, milk soaked cereal, fruit/vegies, and so on), ice cream containers (as long as they're paper... they have a plastic coating that once the paper biodegrades I can just toss into the garbage), parchment paper, butter wrappers (paper ones), dryer lint, facial tissues, Q-tips, paper (especially if it's been soiled with food and left unrecyclable), pizza boxes, plants that have died back and are disease free, plant-based plastics (I've come across cups, gift cards, salad boxes, and bread bags), egg shells, our chickens' bedding, coffee grounds, Subway wrappers and cups... basically if it has the ability to biodegrade-- or I think it has the ability to-- then I throw it on the pile and wait and see what happens.  Like I said, Experiment.

"What can't you compost?" 
Often when we have parties (or extended stay visitors), I just tell people what NOT to put in.  The list is much shorter than what can go in.  I usually stick to the phrase "No metals, no plastics."  If they get in... not a big deal... they won't break down in the pile and I just have to fish them out.  Of course, there are other things to keep out such as animal products.  They, obviously, have the ability to attract animals to your bin.... which can be annoying.  That being said... I don't really follow that rule very well.

"How do you do it?"
Think about it like this... composting is nature's way of recycling.  All you need are greens (kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc.), browns (leaves, paper, cardboard, tissues), water and oxygen.... it's really not rocket science.  Just throw it all in a pile... keep the ratio of greens to browns fairly even... turn the pile to add oxygen and if the pile is dry... add a little water ;)

Wanna give composting a try?

You can build a bin or  buy a bin.

And, of course, I am always here to lend my experiences to help ;)