Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy International Compost Week!

Whether you pile it, bury it or feed the worms with it, composting is easy and critical to the food system. Talking about waste is not pretty, but it is essential.  And trust me, when you see your veggie scraps and yard waste become nutrients for your garden, there is nothing more beautiful!
I am a big believer in composting as an easy way to help minimize trash and to keep your garden growing well.  I have seen all kinds of compost systems in my time- three- bin systems, piles housed in chicken wire, buried in holes and even worm bins inside apartment pantries!  I have two piles going right now- a giant one at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden where I work, and a tiny 'transfer station' one at home.  Both are super easy to maintain.
The three bin system at Lewis Ginter was initiated by the head chef at the Garden, Tony Arrington.  His dedication to saving food scraps and keeping them in his walk- in refrigerator is essential to the success of the whole operation.  Two or three times a week, either the youth volunteers or I head up to the kitchen to collect 6- 9 five gallon buckets of salad trimmings and coffee grounds.  We incorporate this project into our programs, and visiting families love to help 'feed the worms'!  We cover the food scraps with dried leaves or grass, and add a few handfuls of compost that is farther along to the new pile.  When one of those bins fills up, we let it 'rest', taking the compost out of the other bins and adding it to the garden, and then we start a new pile!  This is a 'cold composting' system- it is basically a giant worm bin that never goes above 120 degrees.  Sometimes squash seeds will sprout, but we don't mind.
My pile at home is the super lazy gal's answer to composting.  I have a bucket by the sink for food scraps, and every once in a while, I dump the bucket over the side of my deck.  The pile is hidden by a witch hazel shrub from the front.  With the small volume I create, even with the garden waste, lint, dog hair and contents of the vacuum bag, it never gets big enough to mess with.  Once a year I shovel the stuff from the bottom of the pile onto the garden, but it really just feeds the bed it is in- kind of like a keyhole garden!
So, cheers to you and your compost- whatever form it takes!

1 comment:

  1. Had to get rid of my compost pile this winter unless I wanted to spend $90 on a city-sponsored container. Now, where my compost pile once was, there are copious squash/pumpkin plants, and a fair few volunteer tomatoes. We'll see what comes of them. :)