Gail of Green Living

Composting With More Experience

In July of 2009, I posted about compost, what it is and what you can do with it.  Now, I have more experience!  These are my current observations:

Pumpkin stem from 2011

Wine cork from 2009

Pumpkin stems and wine corks are not very good candidates for your compost pile.  From your kitchen, have a good mix of “kitchen greens” and “kitchen browns“.  It will be a natural process once you get started.

This is a typical kitchen waste container for the counter top.  I keep mine next to the sink, because that’s where I retrieve most of the kitchen waste from the disposal side.  The bags I use to line it are bio-bags, that are the same compost-able material as the yard waste bags required in the City of Houston.  They break down so quickly; you’d better empty the container every 2-3 days, or the bag will begin to break down from the liquids generated!  In the last couple of days, I have put in banana peels, coffee grounds with filter, paper napkins, dryer lint, apple core, ends of green beans, cucumber peel, acorn squash shell, and orange peel.  That’ all that I can remember anyway.

First, I used a child’s rake to stir the pot to aerate it.  Then I dropped the bag into the compostmachine“.

I covered it lightly, but completely, with fresh leaves and pine needles (brown yard waste).  I added pellets of compost booster to the mix and lightly watered the top, because it was very dry.  The lid is on and now the busy bugs can do their work.

Kitchen greens are vegetable and fruit scraps, rice and pasta, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags.  Kitchen browns are coffee filters, stale bread, paper napkins and towels, dryer lint and hair.  Pretty soon you won’t even have to think about it and you will have a good mix all the time

Yard greens are any fresh trimmings, flowers, etc. and yard browns are dried leaves, pine needles, small twigs and dried grass and weeds (no seeds!).

I started my compost machine on October 14.  How long do you think it will be before I realize good compost from the bottom?


Not your Usual Compost Materials

Our family has been recycling since the early 70’s, and composting is part of recycling.   The end product is there for you to use in your garden.  There are the obvious candidates for the pile…leaves, grass clippings, small branches and twigs and even an occasional banana peel.

My Living Compost

From the top, our tomato vines from this summer’s crop; I need to clip them up into smaller pieces so they will break down faster.  In the middle is a mixture of yard waste from a neighbor, and at the front you can see some really rich, dark soil ready to mix in the pots for my fall vegetables.  The pile can reduce from about 3′ high to 1′ high quickly with frequent watering and turning.

But I have recently learned of several items that I had not ever thought to compost.  Here are the Top Ten:
10. Pizza boxes, torn into small pieces; you can even include pizza crust.
9.  Cellophane bags, not clear plastic (amazing!)
8.  Wine corks…of course, they are organic!
7.  Old jelly, jam or preserves; who has any that is old?
6.  Old loofahs
5.  Dryer lint; the birds also like this for nesting material.
4.  Pencil shavings from your sharpener and also hole puncher confetti.
3.  Contents of the vacuum cleaner bag or cannister–just take it back outside from where it came.
2.  Hair from your brush or shower drain, or bring it home when you get a haircut.
1.  Latex balloons

By creating a working, living compost pile we can make more room in our land fill and save the life of our disposal, too!  The result is organic, rich dark soil material to add to our garden and pot plants, instead of chemicals.  Let me know how yours is working!