composting

Can I Have Your Trash, Please?

I believe that the success of any relationship is rooted in a strong foundation. For my human and animal relationships, the foundations are strengthened by good communication and love, among many other things. When it comes to my plants, I give them a different kind of TLC

Touch – Regularly check the leaves and stems for parasites, fungi and bugs. Weed them and make sure they have all of the physical supports they require.

Loam – Prepare their planting site with good, rich earth. Make sure the area is free of any rocks that will prevent strong root growth. Test the soil before planting to make sure you aren’t dumping your plants into a hot mess of “too acidic” or “not acidic enough.”

Compost – Beautifully broken down organic matter that has been decomposed into a rich, dark food for your garden.

Vegetables, OKAY! Meat Products, No Way!

We compost all of our fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds, wood ash, grass clippings, fallen leaves, wood shavings, twigs and egg shells. We had two full and finished compost piles to pull from this Spring to use in our gardens. Every bed was amended with compost and each seedling was planted with compost at the base.

There are many different methods when it comes to composting. We have our piles set up in natural wood and thatched cages near our gardens and in the sun. The piles are turned weekly to promote breakdown of the materials and prevent overheating. We spray the compost piles with a bit of water once in a while in the warm months to help promote decomposing.

We never add any meat or bones to our compost pile. It is generally not recommended that people add meat or bones to compost. We do avoid composting those items because we do not want the items festering in the pile and we do not want to invite any of our many carnivorous neighbors to dine in our yard.

Can I Have Your Trash, Please?

My husband and I produce a surprisingly large amount of compost feeder (all the good stuff we add to our piles), but we have found that our kitchen scraps are not going to be enough for next year. Our gardens this year are only about 1/3 the size of the planned gardens for next year. This was a sort of “test” year for us to see how well we did before investing anymore into our gardening dreams. We have been pleasantly surprised so far by the results of our efforts and we are confident that we will be able to handle the acre of gardens we have planned for next year (physically and financially), as long as our composting efforts succeed again.

Different Stages of Our Lovely Lettuce (Protected from Worms by Netting)

In order to meet the compost-demands we anticipate having next year, we estimate that we will need to add an additional eight gallons of raw compost to our bins a week. Luckily for us, we have local friends who prepare their meals using mostly organic foods and are willing to, as my husband puts it – give us their trash.

Imagined if Everyone Composted Their Table Scraps?

In our country, organic waste from restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and individual homes likely ends up in the landfill or the incinerators. Our littlest state (Rhode Island) is one of the few that restricts the amount of food and organic waste that is dumped into landfills. There are a lot of different ways our state is pushing to promote composting.

We did a little curious googling this spring and found that there is even a company that will take food scraps and other compostable organic materials from businesses and turn it into high-quality compost for gardeners to purchase. You can check out their website at http://www.compostplant.com

Imagine if everyone composted their organic waste and had a garden? Some situations do not allow for this, but what about giving food scraps to family and friends who are composting? We saved a good amount of money not having to purchase organic amendments for our gardens this year AND we are helping to keep organic matter out of the landfills.

We plan to keep going full-steam ahead with our efforts. I know lots of people who compost at least a tad and you would be amazed at how eager friends and family can be to “give you their trash,” if you only ask…(just make sure you are clear about what you take and don’t take for compost).

6 thoughts on “Can I Have Your Trash, Please?”

  1. We compost all our scraps except meat and bones etc into our compost heap or worm farm. I have a mulcher as well so the big garden prunings get chewed up and put back on the garden. I have a question about egg shells. I used to put them in the compost, but stopped because I found they didn’t break down quickly, if at all. Do you just not worry about this? Or do you perhaps crunch them up so small they just don’t feature in the soil any more?

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    1. That’s so awesome! We really want to start a worm bin.

      We turn our compost piles often, so any shells get broken down pretty well (we occasionally see a few larger pieces, but I pick those out and throw them back into the active piles). I’m sure crushing them up beforehand would help if you’re getting bigger pieces in your finished compost.

      We also crush eggshells and scatter them around the base of our tomato plants in the summer as a calcium feed. Works great!

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  2. When I lived in town, I got more compost than I could use just from raking the leaves of the big valley oak next door. The leaves on their side of the fence were discarded by the gardener. It seemed like such a waste.

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