February 13, 2008


This compost is for all my 'local summer' readers and for any of my environmentally conscious friends.

Today I would like to talk about recycling, but maybe not in the manner in which you are thinking. Recently, I was speaking with a friend who purchased a $50 dollar stainless steel container to reduce their kitchen waste by removing the green waste from their normal trash. This container is meant to compost the leftover fruit and vegetable matter right there in the kitchen. I was happy she had begun recycling in the this manner, but was confused by the need to spend $50 to do it. Certainly, she could have done it cheaper I thought, but kept my mouth shut so as not to discourage her in the slightest.

However, the thought has been gnawing at me for days, so I must divulge. There are several methods for kitchen composting, as mentioned previously some are more costly than others. If you desire a certain look and feel for your compost, then you may be willing to pay a bit more for it. I am not willing, because let's face it folks-I'm cheap. I pick wild (read: free) blackberries and the tiny pears out of my yard (read again: free) to make jelly with. I grow my own vegetables and can them for later eats (read: cost of baggies). And to top it off, I'm interested in making better (free) dirt for those veggies through composting.

It would follow that my method for kitchen composting was free and involved recycling. For starters, this is my kitchen's natural state. I have not cleaned up in the least for this photo to show where my container lives. Have you spotted it yet? It's a plastic coffee container from work. F0lger's claims to lock in the freshness with this container. It has no fancy carbon filter to block any 'stinks' from escaping. I have yet to have an issue with smell and I leave stuff in there for quite some time. Sometimes with the lid propped open to help dry out my remains, because mine is not built for composting IN the kitchen but storage of kitchen wastes until I can throw them outside. What kinds of things an I throwing in there you ask? Let's see...There's some orange peels, a couple of family sized tea bags (bag included), some coffee grinds (filter included) and I happen to know way down under the filters there is second layer of orange peels and some apple bits under that too. Reciting that, I realize that I have not cooked a dinner containing vegetables in some time apparently. I blame it on the night job. Then after a sometimes very long while it goes here-in our recycled palettes nailed into composting "stalls." This shape is supposed to allow me to "turn," or flip the material to let over to increase decomposition by allowing helpful microbes access to oxygen. I am lazy. This doesn't happen in the winter months and only like three times in the summer months. It only means that my compost will take longer to deteriorate into good dirt than some one else's compost. I am okay with this.
This is mainly composed of leaves raked up from the yard. Leaves are high in carbon and need a lot of nitrogen to compost well. Kitchen scraps and other green vegetation have some of the highest levels of nitrogen available. I read what ratio of carbon to nitrogen I was supposed to have in my heyday of ingesting as much composting knowledge as I could find, but have since forgotten it. I do recall that what the literature referred to as "manure" or in realistic terms, poop, has the best carbon to nitrogen ratio and is ultimately what you are striving for (not poop the ratio). They also do not recommended that you put pet wastes on compost if you plan to use it on anything edible as it contains some not-human-friendly strain of e. coli. Though, common sense would state that pet poos are prolly just fine if you plant on using it in flower beds or the yard as more than likely it is already there. I just leave mine in the yard and let the mower deal with it. Wasn't that fun!

In case you are still reading and possibly even excited by this new concept of recycling. I can show you other things that have made it into my compost piles. Other bits of kitchen refuse are egg shells (thrown on once they have dried out in the kitchen), onion skins albeit a bit blurry, grass from mowing the law, more coffee and filters

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