I’ve been composting in two large planters for about four years and once I got used to it, I always felt guilty when I had to throw food scraps into the wastebasket instead of the compost bin. (This was and is always the case when we travel.)
Now finally I have the opportunity to compost outside in the dirt and while there are many variations of compost bins one can purchase, get for free from the city, or build, I decided to compost this past month with what I had laying around in the garden…and my outdoor composting turned out to be a success.
I have a small container right above my sink, which I fill every day with food scraps. Coffee grounds and tea are composted daily and so is paper tissue, vegetable scraps, fruit, swept-up dirt, leaves, some cardboard boxes as well as old cotton cloths when I have one that I don’t need.
While there are some products like cheese or bread that one shouldn’t compost as they attract certain animals, I built my compost heap with “plant holder grates” (not sure what they are called, but you can see it in the photo) to keep pests away and I compost anything that is not toxic and not treated with chemicals. Of course, I don’t compost meat products either.
At the end of the day I take my full container outside and dump it onto the top of the compost pile, throw some dried leaves, grass, sticks or cardboard boxes on top of it and cover it with a few heaps of dirt. About every three or four days, I turn the compost to add some air into the mix and I make sure that the pile is not too wet or too dry. If it’s too dry, I pour some rinse water over it. (Rinse water shouldn’t have any soap in it or only biodegradable soap. Rinsing your coffee pitcher or catching water while waiting for the hot water to come through are great ways to re-use water for watering plants and for your compost.)
Today I went outside with Sydney to feed the compost again (he loves to help me with his little rake, to make sure that all the dirt is evened out and he likes to throw grass and leaves on the compost piles). I filled two old plastic planters with healthy, nutritious dirt which will be food for my vegetable garden. I could smell the sweet aroma of the dirt that indicates the mixture of dry, dirt and scraps was just perfect and that composting was a success; I felt proud to introduce my 16-month old baby to this wonderful experience. I know he doesn’t understand it yet, what it means to compost but he will grow up connected to the earth, to mother nature and he will eat fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden very soon. Just seeing him play in the dirt and discover bugs and the texture of plants and rocks makes composting worthwhile.
I wish you all a very happy Spring and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
This article appeared in the on-line magazine for actors The Networker, in April 2013.