10.10.2013

Composting: Making Great Dirt

There is an activity I like out there as much as running. In fact, it is something I do each and every day as well and it is my pride and joy....well, my pride and joy after darling daughter. What can top her?

If you have been following my blog for awhile you probably have figured out that I am passionate about sustainability and feeding my body as clean as possible. Therefore, our family strives to grow some of our own veggies. There was a time that the only thing I allowed to be planted was something to eat. That has changed over the years but the mission is still there, to grow some of our own food. I would love to say we are a HUGE success but we have garden battles. Today's post isn't about that but a side project I started probably just over a year ago....if that long.

Composting.

It bugged me putting scraps into the trash knowing those items would just go to the local landfill. The dirt in our yard isn't the most nutritious. It only made sense to start doing something about it, and the pests. Stage 1 was adding coffee grinds and crushed egg shells to the garden. I would scatter them around hoping for better plants and less pests. But there were still all those scraps and a wonderful teachable moment for darling daughter. And I advanced to stage 2. I started collecting my scraps and didn't really have a compost pile yet so I would "plant" them in the garden. But this method could only tolerate some scraps. I wanted to advance to stage 3, which I did as soon as I realized I could use an old wooden planter box as a compost bin. Darling daughter watched me move it into place and my obsession was about to take a turn for the better.


Starting things was rough. I had more scraps that "dirt" in the bin. I would occassionally gather some dirt from our yard to ensure the food scraps were covered to avoid attracting things I didn't want to have in our backyard. Eventually, I had enough "dirt" in the bin that I could easily cover new scraps. Every other day or so I would tend to my compost by stirring it up, adding more greens or browns, and a sprinkling of water if it was too dry. As things progressed more, the need to add water decreased.

Original dirt walkway we created
Serenity Garden
And then the day came when my bin was very full and my dirt was almost ready. I needed another bin and eventually, I got it. Yes, I have two compost bins now and they sit side by side. One that I am actively adding scraps too and one that is "resting" and finalizing. I have recently started using dirt from my resting bin. You can see the dark rich color of the compost in contrast to the dusty brown dirt in our yard when you look at Blooming Blossoms. And yes, darling daughter and I have been working diligently to transform this rocky, dusty, weedy side of our house to our gardens. Our fun gardening gardens with no purpose beyond our enjoyment. Mine is named "Serenity Garden" and darling daughter named hers "Blooming Blossoms". "Serenity Garden" is more focused on tropical plants, the vast majority I started myself.  "Blooming Blossoms" is about flowers and fun! In the corner darling daughter has a exploration area where she can rotate seeds. Right now she is trying to grow sunflowers quicker than the snails, or whatever, can eat them. We are doing much better now. Last time they were wiped out as soon as they sprouted. And yes, we made name stakes which we will be adding to our gardens soon!


Blooming Blossoms
But back to composting....

What goes into my compost? Fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls (I tear up the cardboard), used coffee grinds and filters, leftover paper napkin notes from darling daughter's lunch box, occassional grass clippings (from other people as we have no grass), leaves, etc.

Scrap Tip: I have a large plastic container from lunch meat by the kitchen sink. The family knows to put the composting scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, etc. in here. When it is full I bring it out to add to my bin. It doesn't get stinky and makes the process much easier to implement. You could also use two smaller tubs.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my rich dirt.
Daily Affirmation: I am setting an example of sustainability and caring for the Earth that I am proud darling daughter is embracing.

3 comments:

  1. Gardening and composting are two things I really wish I could get in to. My problem is I need a mentor. Someone to actually SHOW me HOW to be successful. Plus I live in an apartment, so that's another challenge. I just find it all so intimidating. :-(

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  2. I LOVE compost piles. Like, a ridiculous amount. (That's probably not something I should admit in public, huh?)

    I love them so much, in fact, that when I left rural life in my parent's home, I bought myself a worm bin for vermicomposting indoors. [Clarinda, if you're reading this, you should look into it!] This was also fabulous. It's ridiculous and disturbing how much compostable food waste goes into the garbage, and ends up in plastic-lined landfills, where it never really "breaks down back to the earth".

    So - thanks for this post! The more people preaching the composting life, the better!!

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  3. We compost! We started with a chicken wire enclosure, and then a friend gave us a plastic composting bin that works so much faster. It actually smokes when you stir it, it gets so hot! We have a pretty crock that was gifted to us to hold our composting materials and we throw in toilet paper rolls and grass clippings as well :)

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