11.27.2011

Composterized


I was first introducted to composting in fourth grade. A rep from a farm our class was going to visit told us how a student the previous year was able to pack his lunch without generating trash. The student's mom had used a container that he brought back home, and packed a fruit salad inside a cantaloupe skin. The skin could then be thrown into the compost pile at the farm. Everyone was impressed, even if we couldn't quite figure out what the big deal was.

Some three decades later, I have finally taken the lesson to heart. But I'm doing it the cheap and lazy way, so I'm asking for your help to correct me if I'm doing something wrong. I bought two new garbage cans so that I could commandeer our old garbage cans. I drilled holes in them for ventilation, laid down some plastic wrap underneath them, and then filled them about a quarter-full with some dry leaves I had gathered the weekend before. Every time I wash the dishes now, I throw fruit and vegetable clippings into a bin, and wash my dishes over this bin, take the bin outside and dump the food waste and the grey water into the garbage can, and then shake some more leaves on top.

I say "cheap and lazy" because there are obviously better ways to do this: I could secure the area with chicken wire, or buy a composting barrel, or stir more often, or put the garbage cans on the ground rather than on plastic tarp on my backyard deck a few feet from the door from the kitchen. But my time is scarce, I'm a cheap bastard, and I don't need the soil until spring. So I have time on my side. I'm just not sure if the compost will "take" (i.e. will convert to soil), or if the trash can will attract vermin or insects. I sure hope not; it makes me feel good to think that I'm converting what I used to let go down the kitchen sink drain into soil that I would otherwise have to pay money for next spring. But I welcome your feedback on how to do this better, if you have any thoughts.

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