Fifty Ways To Leave Your Compost
I have no idea how many years I’ve composted kitchen scraps. So many that when I see anyone dump veggie bits, egg yolk and shells, plate scrapings, old leftovers and even floor sweepings into the regular garbage it sets off all of my alarms. How can anyone waste all that good stuff? That is like throwing gold away! Its not dead stuff… its all living and ready to transform in to perfect soil, which shoots health into your plants! Most people say that they don’t have the time to compost, or they don’t want to turn a heap.
Here may not be fifty ways to compost easily, but certainly enough for ANYONE to keep their compostables out of the mainstream trash. And apologies to Paul Simon.
1. You Just slip out the back, Jack, with that little pail you have in or under your sink, into which you scrape everything compostable. They warn you about bones and meat because of animals digging through your heap to get to them, but if you bury your compost deeply, you won’t have that problem. I use a little bucket that they gave me for heaven-knows-what-reason at the hospital when I had my gall bladder out. It isn’t pretty, but it does the job. When I had both my children at home there was a lot more veggie peels to deal with, so in my kitchen I had a woven laundry basket, and inside I had two plastic liners, one for recycling and one for compost.
I only emptied it once a week. I didn’t like using so much plastic, but I’d put the plastic bag in the recycling. They sell all kinds of really nifty compost buckets now. Get one with a lid to keep those annoying little fruit flies from developing. Or if you have an open bucket like mine, just fill it partly with water so that the compost is submerged. It is easier to dump out that way and keeps cleaner, too. Especially if you’re going to…
Make a new plan, Stan, and instead of making a compost heap, you put all those scraps (barring big pits and nut shells) with water into a blender and whip it up. Then march outside and pour that brew around your plants! You can always kick a little dirt over it if its thick. This gives your plants a fantastic compost boost. Since it is undecayed pureed plant matter, you don’t want to bind up the nitrogen around seedlings or young plants, so pour it outside the drip line (how far the roots come out), or in an area you are preparing to plant in the future. This compost will decompose with days, depending on how warm the ground is (cold weather kills off or slows down microbes and wormies). If it is snowy winter where you are, then you might just freeze the stuff, in ice cube form or in paper cups. When the soil warms, plant those cubes! (Be sure to label them when in the freezer so no one thinks they are smoothie-pops!)
You don’t need to be coy, Roy, but depending on your neighbors you may not want them to see you burying your compost. That’s right, you don’t have to make a heap, or blend it up. Just march outside with your bucket and a shovel or trowel, dig some small holes and bury it! The wormies will turn it into soil for you in weeks. Sometimes you’ll get surprises, like when a potato sprouts…. free veg! Here again for those who have frozen winters, you can pop the compost as is in a bag in the freezer. The only problem is freezer space. Just think, though, every bit you can save helps your garden!
Just get yourself free from all your hangups about compost heaps and go buy a compost bin. I’ve a Rubbermaid bin for about twelve years. When my compost container is full I march it down, open the top, toss in the contents and away I go. When I pull weeds or thin the garden, I throw that in there too. Do I turn it? Heck, no! But if I wanted to I could very easily. The sides and two halves of the top fit together like enormous puzzle pieces, so I just need to take them all off, reassemble them right next to the heap, then pitchfork the compost back into it. The stuff that was on the top would now be on the bottom. Fresh compost can be shoveled out of a hole in the side on the bottom. Compost that is turned is not only matured faster, but is of a better quality and more broken down than that which isn’t turned. But as the bumperstickers say, compost happens! Stuff breaks down. Throw stuff into the top of the bin, and rake it out the bottom. Free your mind from compost regulations! Just go for it!
Hop on the bus, Gus, and become a real composter. You can build compost bins very cheaply. If you can nail things together so that they actually stay together (I can’t), you can build a three-section compost bin out of old pallets. There are lots of YouTube videos showing how. The best kind have removable slats in the front so that you can start low and gradually add to the front as the heap grows. Then when you want to turn it into the next bin, you may easily remove the slats for quick access. You can also just take a section of wire and make a cylinder out of it, then pitchfork in the weeds, grass, and throw in the kitchen trimmings. When its time to turn it, just undo the wire or slip it off, and set it up next to the pile again. Or have a line of wire cages. I have three, plus my bin. Do I turn them either? No. I keep throwing on excess weeds, and it keeps sinking down. Remember: compost happens!
You don’t need to discuss much with wormies because they can’t answer you: their little mouths are so full of your kitchen waste that they can’t talk! Make yourself a worm bin. Or buy one. You’ll need two dark plastic bins (one fits inside the other). Drill holes all through the lid for ventilation, and in just one of the bins drill some holes along the top of the sides, then drill tiny holes in the bottom for drainage. Fit the drilled bin inside the non-drilled bin. Put wads of newspaper, or paper from your paper shredder (unless you are saving it all to pack your mail-out Christmas gifts with instead of those nasty Styrofoam things) in the bin up to about half way. Lightly sprinkle with water. Throw a little soil in there, but not much for these kinds of worms. Find someone who has worms, or buy some red wigglers. You don’t want earthworms. Put these little guys gently into the bin. Take your compost and put it into one corner. Cover with a dampened sheet of newspaper and put the ventilated lid on the top. Keep the wormies from extreme temperatures. Some people keep a bin under their kitchen sink. Many school kids keep wormies as projects and for fun (baby wormies are white and wiggly!). As the wormies devour your compost they’ll leave behind castings, which look like sticky dirt. This is gold. If they had worm castings in Fort Knox instead of all that gold bullion our dollar would never fluctuate. What collects in the bottom bin is ‘worm tea’, which is just as valuable. Pour this stuff into your houseplants or directly on your plants. Commercial worm bins have several sections to hold more compost, are a little easier to manage and have a spigot for the worm tea. A perfect Mother’s Day gift! That or a compost bucket or bin!
Just drop off the key, Lee, with your housesitter when you go on vacation, and don’t forget to let her know to throw those kitchen scraps in with your chickens! Or goat! Or miniature pig! You don’t even need a heap when you have beaks! All those scraps are pure vitamins and minerals and chickens will not only devour them, but give you the best eggs you have ever tasted. Don’t forget to crush eggshells and give them right back to the chickens! They need that calcium to keep their eggs nice and hard. Chickens turn your compost into great eggs for you and great poo for the ground. Chicken manure can be used right away in your garden. Goaties will eat just about anything, as will piggies, so kitchen waste is perfect (slops).
And get yourself free from all that guilt that you shoulder when you throw food into the trash. Oh, and separate your recycling, too!