How can I make composting sound like fun to readers of Shirl and You? Don’t leave without 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
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
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 and 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
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 use 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
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.