Monday, March 7, 2011

The Good Rot

Back in the late 90's our city was promoting composting by 1. giving away "Backyard Composting:  Your Complete Guide to Recycling Yard Clippings" by Harmonious Technologies, and 2. Offering a sweet deal on a compost bin.  If I recall correctly it was a $60 bin that we could purchase for $15.  I for one was hooked.

Now, I'm not a tree-hugger.  I don't wear patchouli.  It has to be below 0°F before I don woolen socks, and then you won't find me in Birkenstocks.  They're great sandals, but meant for nice days.  Finally, I would rather be bald than sporting dreadlocks.  Just sayin.'

I am, however, frugal.  I admire well-placed economy.  It's certainly a skill and a lifestyle, to some an art.  To further clear the air, it stands to reason that being "cheap" is not synonymous with frugality.  Obviously, this finer point is highly subject to opinion.  I hope to show the difference in my "Home Grown," "Frugal Equals Green," and "Bless our Vittles" posts. 

Today I introduce composting.  Lots of people are doing it, but to many it still seems odd.  What is it?  Why do it?  Isn't it gross?  Stinky?  I'll start with the topic of stench, the concern of which evokes the most aversion in compost conversation.  Frankly, it can.  If you're not composting dead leaves raked-up in the fall, and only putting rotten produce in your bin it's gonna smell.  Bad.  The key is balance. 

The dead stuff is carbon.  The rotten stuff is nitrogen.  Mix a bit.  It ain't picky.  Et voil√†!  You have compost.  There are these little bacteria that are chompin' at the bit to feast on this stuff.  You love these little guys.  They will work their magic in your seeming trash heap, and before you know it you have humus!

Wait, what?  Yea, weird, I know.  Humus (he-yoom-us) is compost.  It's fertilizer, and far superior to anything you can get your mitts on in the garden center.  It's super nutritious stuff for your garden!  Use it on almost everything.  It beefs up weak, sandy soil.  Loosens hard clay soil (like mine).  Over time regular composting transforms your garden soil - whatever you've got - into rich, fertile earth.  If you were a hollyhock you'd grow to a tall, strong, profusion of color.  If you were a cucumber, your little vines would droop low with heavy fruits.

The only thing left to do is add your 1. Dead fall leaves, and 2. Scrap kitchen produce.  That's it.  A bin is tidy, but unnecessary.  Like the book says, "Compost unfailingly happens."  You'll be amazed with your trash reduction.  As a family of seven we fill only one trash can each week.  The hardware store type, not the enormous waste disposal unit type. 

One final note, never compost meat or bones or dairy (eggshells are great compost, however!) that would be stinky and attract creatures.  Also, avoid seeding weeds.  You'd be surprised at their virility. 

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!