Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Making Compost is a Dirty Business
Have you been thinking of making your own compost? I thought about it for years before I actually got a start. Of course I was a city dweller and wasn't too sure of the odor and how my neighbors would take it.
I finally found myself in a rural setting, and even though I still have neighbors, they are not as close, and we all seem to think alike. Going "natural" is a "natural" idea here.
So I studied and read and finally decided to buy a composter (now I wish I had just asked my husband to throw one together for me with fencing.) But I like the one I have and it was not expensive. It's simple, no turning cranks, so a turn with a rake or pitchfork every now and then is necessary. I have pulled out the little drawer at the bottom and noticed some real nice looking dirt, so I guess it is working as it should.
My biggest problem was in not knowing what in the world I was supposed to-- or not supposed to-- put in there. Here are some things I have learned to use and not to use. But most important is to keep a happy balance. Don't overdo one item over the other.
1. Dry autumn leaves -- if your mower has a mulcher, then use it instead of a rake and add the finely ground leaves as one layer.
2. Twigs from your tree pruning -- large branches take too long to decompose. Twigs should be the size of a pencil
3. Vegetable scraps form the kitchen -- do not use cooked and seasoned vegetable leftovers from your table
4. Vacuum Cleaner dust (only if your house is pet free)
5. Coffee grounds and filters( if unbleached), tea leaves and tea bags
6. Eggshells -- but crush and rinse first
7. Pasta (minus sauces) and bread ( minus spreads)
8. Fireplace ashes and sawdust
9. Grass clippings -- not too many and if possible dry out first or it will produce ammonia
10. Shredded brown paper bags, cardboard, and newspaper ( not colored)
11. Weeds from the garden -- if they have not gone to flower or seed
12. Dead annuals or perennials (remember seeds may remain alive and re-sprout wherever you use your compost.
You don't want to produce a smelly garbage dump. Your neighbors won't love you no matter how composting friendly they are. And the wrong type of leftovers will bring in unwanted pests, so be sure to keep out animal products and table scraps.
Do Not Use:
1. Plants with thorns, or aggressive vines and runners
2. Wood or sawdust from wood that has been treated with a preservative
3. Metals that rust -- your hands will be in this compose at some point - did I say, tetanus shot?
4. Glass -- your hands will be in this compost at some point -ouch!
5. Plastics -- they do not decompose
6. Bones, meat and grease
9. Any plants that show a sign of disease
10. And of course, no cleaning products
To help your composter along, add some good earth worms or night crawlers. Turn your compost every few weeks.
You might also like to visit my cooking blogs at An Herbal Bedfellow and my restaurant reviews at Grabbin' A Bite