Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So You're Making Your Own Compost...Now What?

Composting with The Conscious Shopper

Has this ever happened to you? Trying to live a simpler, greener life, you pick up a new skill, only to find yourself asking, "Now what do I do with this?"

For example, I learned how to make my own yogurt, but to make sure I have a fresh starter every time, I have to make a lot of yogurt - more than my family wants to eat on a regular basis. Now what do I do with all this yogurt?

I gradually discovered that there are lots of ways to incorporate yogurt into our regular meals without making us sick of yogurt - but still have fresh homemade yogurt on hand for those times when we do want a bowl of yogurt and fruit.

Someday I'd like to write a guide called So You're Growing Your Own (fill in the blank)...Now What?, answering all the questions that run through my head when I encounter a new vegetable: What is this? How do I cook it? Can I eat the greens? Do I eat the stem? etc.

But today's subject is compost. So you've started composting your food and gardening what do you do with it?

Find the statement that best describes you for some tips on how to use your black gold:

I have a large plot of land set aside for gardening...

  • Mix four to six inches of compost into your soil before planting.
  • Add a one to two inch layer of compost around fruits and vegetables as a mulch.
I have a very tiny yard...

All of the ideas above, plus:
I have no interest in converting my lawn into a vegetable garden.
  • Spread a one inch layer of compost around trees, shrubs, and flowers. Keep compost six inches away from the trunk of trees.
  • Sprinkle some compost on the soil of your houseplants.
I live in an apartment with a balcony...
  • Use on houseplants as mentioned above.
I live in an apartment with no balcony...
  • Use on houseplants as mentioned above.
  • Donate your compost to a friend, farmer, or community garden.
I have no interest in having worms in my house or a smelly, decaying pile in my yard...

After battling fruit flies and a leaky bin all winter, I can definitely understand this perspective. (Talk to me again in ten years when I've become an expert vermicomposter, and I might have a different opinion.)

Home composting may not be for everyone, and that's why we need city compost collection along with our trash and recycling. Write a letter to your city leaders expressing your opinion or get involved with a group advocating for city composting.

What other ideas do you have for using compost?


Mary said...

I found your blog by chance but love what you are doing here. I'll be back often. Blessings...Mary

Laura said...

On the topic of yogurt: If you are using regular store-bought yogurt as your starter, then you can freeze it in 1/2 c. increments. I put a frozen half cup of yogurt in a boiled and cooled quart of milk and put them in the yogurt maker. Works great!

concretenprimroses said...

I've never done vermiculture, but I throw compost on the pile all winter. Animals get some of it but that's ok.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Mary - Thanks! We'd love to see you back!

@Laura - I do freeze yogurt to use as a starter in emergencies (like if I've gone on vacation and need a starter when I get back), but for me, I get thicker yogurt if the starter is fresh. Not sure why...

Daisy said...

Mine gets mixed into the garden each spring. This year I'm experimenting; waiting until next fall to till it into the soil.

Elle Bee said...

The fruit flies in our compost are swarming! Are we not turning the compost regularly enough? It's getting a little ridiculous.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Elle Bee - Do you have a regular compost pile or a worm bin? I don't know much about regular composting, but we've had all sorts of issues with fruit flies with our worm bin. The things I've learned are to not add so much food and keep the food covered with bedding. If your fruit flies are getting into your house, you can leave a bowl of balsamic or apple cider vinegar on the counter for a few days. The fruit flies go for a sip and drown.

Anna, The Lemon Lady said...

I love making compost. I even puree my food scraps and pour it into the pile. Fast decomposition! Worms. Fruit flies. They are probably fungus gnats, but they'll go away when the weather warms up.

If you have good quality compost and truly don't need it, consider donating to a community garden. google search your own town and you're bound to find a public garden. Call a garden club. They'll know.

BTW, very cute blog!

Elle Bee said...

It's a regular compost. I think you're right--we need to cover it everytime we add to it. Thanks for the reply!

Kale for Sale said...

Thank you for the vinegar tip for the flies at the compost. I keep the bin in an open air garage but still, the flies, or whatever they may be, have gotten a bit out of hand. They are however surpassed by the number of worms. I've come to think of the flies as a healthy sign for the bin and remember to keep my mouth closed when feeding them. They taste terrible.

I've had the worms for two or three years and have yet to use the castings for anything or give them away. I'm simply happy they eat the produce trimmings and things forgotten in the bottom of the fridge so they don't go to landfill.


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