“Compost Cocktail:” Something To Muse About!

How can I make composting sound like fun to readers of Shirl and You? Don’t leave composting 9without reading the rest of this column, because I’m surely going to try. Do you know that compost is considered to be black gold? Sounds better already, doesn’t it? It adds nutrients that improve the fertility of your soil.

I’m really quite new at this. I always thought composting was throwing your garbage in the same place at the back of your yard and then forgetting about it. But, no, there’s much

The compost bin makes the ideal meet-your -neighbor place.

The compost bin makes the ideal meet-your -neighbor place.

more to it. It started for me when I visited with a neighbor and saw her compost bin. Oh, they’ve been around, but I never saw one of these before.

Two years ago, my husband bought me one. That’s almost as bad as buying your wife a lawn mower, but, no, I asked for it. I already had my own lawn mower. The neighbors’ plantings looked lush and healthy, although they did admit that many of the plants had sprouted from the seeds in the compost. I knew I had much to learn about this, and so my research began.

My family has been very sweet about this new activity. They have never called me a looney (short for lunatic) but their looks and a few comments, made me think they just don’t

I'm not the only one using a pitchfork.

I’m not the only one using a pitchfork.

understand the science behind this new development. What grabs them most is the fact that I grind all my scraps before putting them in the compost bin and make certain no seeds are going in the mix. Every morning I get out my Vitamix and whip up a smoothie or two? Wrong! This is the machine that grinds all my food scraps. The comment I hear is: “I can’t believe anyone else does this?” It is somewhat time consuming, because it will accommodate only a small amount of scraps at a time. I have quite a heaped-up plate full before I head out to my compost bin with my pitchfork in-hand. This I use to turn over the mixture. I add the ground-up scraps to dried leaves and grass clippings.

Since we eat grapefruit for breakfast everyday and frequently and orange or two throughout the day, my bin has quite a bit of citrus among the vegetable scraps. And I have noticed a citrus smell as I turn over its contents. One day I invited my daughter to come composting 3and take a whiff of my bin, expecting her to be surprised at the pleasant odor. Instead, she barely made it to the side of the bin, peered over whether suspiciously and with the wrinkle on her nose, I knew she already had set ideas on what a compost pile smelled like.

There are no grubs or maggots in my compost bin These are attracted to meat, dairy and fat which do not go into my compost. These would also  attract vermin. Their

No way does mine look like this.

No way does mine look like this.

appearance would end my composting. These ingredients I avoid completely, in fact anything that has been cooked does not make it into the bin. I’ve seen no ants or even fruit flies. There is such a thing as a worm compost, I’ve seen them pictured on the internet. They are just plain awful! Maybe this is what my daughter thought she might see.

The surprising thing about the compost is how it heats up. As I turn in new scraps, I sometimes can feel the heat. It’s produced during microbial breakdown. That’s as far as I’ll go with my explanation of compost heat. but I do know it is a necessary part of the process that eventually produces compost that’s rich in nutrients and improves the fertility of your soil.

Moisture is another ingredient that’s important to the process. This seems to take a bit of guessing, but it is easy to see if it is getting dry. Last fall was the first time I was able to composting 2jpguse my own compost and I will say my flower garden looks better than ever. I’m hoping to have enough of my own to add two-to-three inches of mulch, spring and fall. So guess what? My husband bought me two more compost bins. These may be turned so my pitchfork isn’t needed here, making the whole process a bit simpler, especially if you’re not inclined to use a pitchfork.

Shirl and You readers know that I often mention researching  subjects I cover here. And I did this time, also. I learned of something I could do that might eliminate the shaking heads each time I get out my Vitamix and begin

Well, compost cocktail has a different look than this.

Well, compost cocktail has a different look than this.

grinding my scraps of vegetables and fruits. I’ve given it a name. I call it “Compost Cocktail.” Cocktail is a dish consisting of seafood or fruits typically served cold at the beginning of a meal as an hors d’ euvre. I learned that a blender could be filled to the top and if water is added the whole container would be ground into a liquid, in seconds. This would save a lot of time and the water would provide the necessary moisture, all at the same time. You’ve never heard of a “Compost Cocktail” Neither have I, but I’m going try it.

Do you have some compost stories to tell? I’d love to hear them.

My husband couldn't believe it when I said I wanted a pitchfork. This photo shows why.

My husband couldn’t believe it when I said I wanted a pitchfork. This photo shows why.

 

 

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6 thoughts on ““Compost Cocktail:” Something To Muse About!

  1. The health of any plant begins with the soil. My father always did organic gardening and I learned a great deal from him. We composted…rotated the crops…weeded daily. People would drive by the house and honk…they knew I was in the garden even if they couldn’t see me. I once hit three home runs in softball and one of my neighbors said he’d come weed my garden if I hit a fourth…as I rounded third and more than half way to home plate…I stopped…looked at him and said scared ya didn’t I…and walked back to third…my coach was furious with me. I never thought to use a processor for my food scraps…it sounds like a great idea…I do use one for dry ingredients like crackers…pretzels, bread crumbs, cookies, nuts and spread them in the yard or mix peanut butter and fat with them for suet. I love to see the worms and critters in the compost…they work it and break it up. I also prefer a pit for composting and then turn it every so often with a pitchfork. And you want to talk crazy…my husband and children and I would drive around looking for leaves for our compost and as a cover for the end of the season garden. We would ask permission and of course that thought we were nuts.

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    • So, Karen, does that mean you actually raked other people’s yards for free. I’m almost to that point. Whatever it takes for a good compost heap. Sounds as if your family really knew how to garden. Thanks for writing, Karen.

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  2. This is a great idea for gardeners. I wish that I had the time to do this, but I just don’t. We have sandy soil here, and not much grows in it. We have added topsoil, fertilizer, mulch and even elephant poo (from a local zoo) to our garden dirt, but it is still poor in quality. I only plant flowers (ones that the deer don’t like to eat); and I gave up on vegetable plants several years ago. Not much grows, and what does… gets eaten by deer, rabbits, woodchucks and anything else that can jump over or crawl/dig underneath a fence. Lol Thanks for another great blog.

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    • Oh, Colleen, you’ve given us a true look at gardening. It can, indeed, be frustrating and what you wrote makes that so clear. Maybe when you retire you can come back here to PA where gardening is nearly the same. 🙂 Thanks for writing.

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  3. I think your composting is pretty cool! I am always learning wonderful things from you. I admit that I love my smoothies from my Vitamix, but it seems that yours is doing a great job for you too!

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    • You make the best smoothies, so keep it up. It just might be simpler to buy compost, then the Vitamix would be at rest here.:) I never thought I would use it for what I’m using it. But it works good for that. Thanks for writing, Janine.

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