Thursday, August 12, 2010
Ten Ingredient Project eating produces a lot of compost. The "packages" that whole foods come in--the skins, rinds, shells, peels and stems--bear little resemblance to the packages of your average processed food item. At least, I wouldn't dream of piling the latter in my backyard. But those beautiful biodegradable scraps belong close to surface of the soil where insects, microbes and oxygen work to decompose them into rich, fertile soil.
I don't have gardens at the moment, so my compost pile is just kind of hanging out. But even if you're not actively growing anything, composting fruit and vegetable scraps reduces landfill waste, and provides you with a store of good soil in case you do decide to use it.
In case you're wondering if compost makes a real difference in the success of a garden, check out these two kale plants I potted last spring. The one on the left is planted in pure compost, while the one on the right is planted in organic store-bought potting soil. The compost kale was actually the punier plant to start, too.
The most valuable composting trick I've learned comes from my old roommate Alex, who introduced me to the concept of frozen compost. Instead of keeping an open pot on the kitchen counter to attract flies and... interesting aromas, I keep a large plastic bowl in the freezer, and toss in scraps as I produce them. This technique staves off spoilage until the scraps make it into the yard.
At my house, it takes about 3-4 days to produce a heaping bowl's worth of compost, seen above. My dad pointed out recently that if you're eating the right kinds of foods, the compost pot fills up before the contents have time to fester (he's an old-fashioned kitchen counter composter). That's a good point, and maybe even a useful barometer of your eating habits. Do you compost? How long does it take to fill your pot?
Posted by Terita at 12:53 PM