Saturday, August 30, 2008

to answer phoebe's question- do we compost?

Question from Phoebe:
Do you have a compost? What can you compost - just fruits and veggies or can you compost anything perishable like stale bread or meat/bones - or is that just an invitation for animals? Do you throw yard waste into your compost?
Yes, Ben is an expert. I'll call him in as a guest commentator.
Thanks for asking me to come over from my blog, beninthehood, to answer questions. You can compost fruit and vegetables and plant-based kitchen scraps. So bread is okay, meat and bones are not. Eggshells can be added to compost, but they don't decompose; they break down into tiny bits and add calcium to the soil.

How to compost:
1. Find a bin. Ours is below. We purchased it from our local dump for $35. Many companies like Smith & Hawken sale compost bins as well, but they charge over $100. The bin keeps the compost in a neat pile, concentrates heat and keeps animals out.
2. Locate the bin close to your kitchen. Seriously. Ours is just off the deck so I can carry scraps directly from the sink without having to put shoes on. Its much easier to feed the bin continuously than to collect scraps in the kitchen.

However, if you must collect scraps, place them in a plastic bag (bread bags work well) in your freezer. This "compostsicle" will not stink and is easy to dump as the bag fills.
3. Compost both vegetable based kitchen scraps (no meat) and yard waste (but no weeds).
a. Balance: Keep a good mix of ingredients so that your compost is moist like a damp sponge; not dry like a pile of leaves and not nasty like a pile of watermelon rinds.
b. Inoculate: Introduce a shovelful of good garden soil to bring over the good bugs and worms.
c. Stir: Mix the pile to keep the flies down and to keep the compost cooking. Also it gets you out of the house when dishes need to be done.
The most important thing is to start. It's hard to go wrong, easy to correct mistakes as you go, fun to watch the transformation of waste into soil, fun to watch the bugs and worms and it's very rewarding to add the finished compost to your soil after it's done.

Hope that helps answer your question. Now I'm back to beninthehood, the original Oregon Lewit blog.

No comments: