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Jessie Bee
I am a seeker of God, a help-meet to my husband and a mother to my 3 children. I love hot lattes, good books, cold weather and anything that inspires me to be creative. I desire simplicity and authenticity, but often have to remind myself to seek those .
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gardening 101: Composting!

Before beginning my own blog, I read blogs on blogging.  Many of these blogs had lists on what makes a good blog, and all of these lists included one thing:  having a theme.  Essentially by focusing on what you already excel at and blogging about it, you should have a decent blog.

Well, I don't excel at any one thing; I'm merely decent at a LOT of things.  So I thought, fine, I'll just have categories that focus on my interests:  food, health, gardening, and possibly creative stuff.  I had grand visions of blogging daily and filling up those categories with tons of useful information.  Well obviously THAT isn't going to happen anytime soon.  Now I simply stick to those titles because I'm borderline OCD and I'd go mental if there wasn't some sort of organization to this blog.  I'm not sure why I gave you this little preface, other than I'm beginning another segment (gardening).

Now, to focus on the actual post: composting.

I have a passion for gardening.  It kind of ends the passion part.  I don't have a gift for gardening, I don't have endless motivation for gardening, and I definitely don't have the right color thumb for gardening.  As one of my good friends said one time, "I can make good dirt, I just can't grow anything in it."  That's essentially what I'm doing now.  Making good dirt.  Well, that and limiting how much unnecessary food waste enters the landfill.

So last month I went to World Market and, armed with a coupon and $10 in rewards cash, I picked out this adorable countertop compost bin.  

Countertop bins are NOT meant to actually do the composting.  It's just an efficient way to collect scraps throughout the week so you don't have to walk out to your real bin every time you crack an egg or cut tops off of strawberries.  Which is what I did.  And you'd be surprised at the stuff that can go into a compost bin:  any fruit or vegetable waste, grains, breads, coffee grounds and tea bags, spices, crushed egg shells, corn cobs and husks, etc.  Although we consume nearly all of our leftovers at later meals and freeze veggies and fruit before they spoil (good for stews and smoothies later on), we still manage to create waste.  So for the past two weeks I have been putting these scraps into my countertop bin.  When it finally filled to capacity yesterday, I went to the store and spent $5.47 on a basic plastic tub.  I drilled air holes in the lid and drainage holes in the bottom.  Here's a picture of the drainage holes:

When that was done, I put some green matter and brown matter into the bin.  When I read about composting, I found out that its important to include browns and greens in your compost mixture to ensure efficient breakdown of the food.  Green matter (nitrogen rich) is usually grass clippings, weeds, vines, and plant stalks.  Brown matter (carbon rich) can consist of sawdust, cardboard, shredded paper and hay.  You generally want more browns then green.  Here is my starting mixture (I'll be adding shredded paper to it also):

With that done, I dumped out my food waste into my bin and covered it with the lid (I would have showed a pic of the food scraps, but it was NASTY!).  I read that a good way to prevent tiny pests from sneaking into the bin is to line the holes and rim with newspaper.  Still breathable, but creates a decent barrier.   When moist, just add it to the compost and re-line!  Then go out and stir the mixture once a week (or each time you add more food waste).

I figure it should take several months to fill this bin.  At that time, I'll buy one more plastic tub and start over in that one while the first bin is finishing its decomposition.  It will probably take around 6-9 months for this first bin to create a good mixture.  If all goes as planned, we should only ever need the two bins, which we'll alternate filling as they become full.  

Now I just need to create a bigger better garden so this compost can go to good use!


Michelle said...

What do you plan to use the compost for? What are the benefits? I remember learning about it in elementary school, is it typically used as fertilizer? I am wanting to start a small garden in my back yard to save us some money, and I seem to recall you having a garden, too. Maybe I should email you these questions, haha!

The Professor's Wife said...

Oh cool Jessie! What a good idea to use a plastic bin like that! (I am determined to actually grow something this spring ;)

By the way, do you want some seeds? Pete's aunt gave me tons!!! more than I can use

Jessie Bee said...

Cat - the compost is to help nourish the garden. It's a GREAT way to encourage good plant growth as a good compost is full of nutrients for plants. At least that is the goal anyway. =) Feel free to email me questions about starting a garden! I'll be blogging on the topic in the next month or so!

PW - I'd LOVE some seeds! When I use up all my eggs (in the next 2 weeks) I'll be starting my seeds in the cartons. Looking forward to it!

Alicia said...

Great blog! I've been thinking about composting since most of what goes out as trash could be used. I've heard paper towels and kleenex can also go into the compost. Please keep us updated on how it goes! :)

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