Compost

We are probably the world’s worst composters. We don’t follow the 2:3 ratio at all, but simply throw any food scraps into our counter top container. In the winter, we’ll empty it about once a week; more in the summer. If I’m being conscientious, I’ll tear up our paper towel and toilet paper tubes to throw in for brown material. We rarely water or turn it. In the spring, Frank will do an aggressive push and water and turn it every week. In about a month, all of our neglect has turned into spreadable dirt.

Dirt from our composted veggies
Dirt from our composted veggies

When we started researching the composting process, about four years ago, I soon got overwhelmed by all the information. I read the Botanic Gardens’ website about using 2/3 greens to 1/3 browns and it started to sound a bit too much like chemistry. Then, we chatted with a couple at an information booth at the farmer’s market. The woman told us to not worry – just throw our extra food and plant cuttings into the compost, water, mix, and see what happens. She said it takes a lot of effort to mess up a compost heap. With these words of wisdom, we decided we were ready to enter the world of composting.

Bea loves “helping” with the compost and is beginning to understand the process a bit more. I’m excited that her relationship with waste and trash will be more about repurposing and being a good steward of what we have. (There’s a great book on composting for kids from the Teenie Greenies series.)

The most encouraging thing for me about this process is that we don’t have to stress about it. It’s not really one more thing to add to the list, but just part of our routine. And, I love the tangible reminder that our leftover scraps can be made into something useable.

Here are a few practical ideas to get started on your own compost:

1) We use the 3-stage system. People told us that it’s easy to build your own, but we learned early in our marriage that it’s best for us to buy ready-made. We found one for $50 at Home Depot. It’s great because we can move the stacks, depending on where we are in the process.

3-stage system
3-stage system

2) We invested in a counter top bin with a charcoal filter in the lid to keep out smells. Especially if (like us) you don’t empty every day, it’s essential to keeping the smell of decomposing food out of the kitchen.

Counter top bin
Counter top bin

3) Even though we don’t follow the 2:3 ratio, it is important to remember not to put animal byproducts in your compost. Industrial-level operations can handle things like that, but cheese and meat will attract pests in a backyard compost.

4) Don’t stress about it! We’ve had the occasional mouse enjoy our unturned scraps, but we don’t have any rat infestations or anything like that. Like the woman at the farmer’s market said, it’s pretty hard to mess up!

Do you compost? Do you have any advice for those who haven’t yet started?

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