Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How do you compost?

I bring this up because I have been surprised to find how satisfying it is to keep a compost pile. It's easy to do especially if you are fortunate to have garden space. Besides, what else will I do with my cucumber peelings and wilted lettuce leaves?

Know it's been quite a frugal adventure so far on my part. I dump my wilty leaves, eggshells and chard rinds saved from the kitchen into one cracked 15 gallon bucket set in a quiet spot in my garden. I keep it covered with a heavy clay top, necessary to keep the neighborhood riff-raff out.

It didn't take long for the earthworms to find my compost, probably crawling in through the crack in my container. Since my compost pile evolved into a worm composting setup, I no longer worry about the temperature of my pile or how much browns and greens I have added. I feed my worms regularly with kitchen scraps and eggshells, occasionally the egg carton torn up.

Every few months when I do new plantings, I 'harvest' some of my compost for the soil. I take the top of my compost pile, which is really a clay top, dump all the newer stuff out, and dig out the stuff at the bottom.I find whatever it is down there to be swimming with earthworms.
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The oldest stuff goes into my garden to start the new plantings. I throw back the stuff I pulled out into bucket.

I'm happy. I 'grow' my own compost, I have a use for my headed-for-the-trashcan greens, and my earthworms must be happy because they multiply faster than rabbits.

I must be in sync with the LA Times dry garden lady because she just wrote about composting here.
Spread burlap near the bin. Using a pitch fork, empty the still-cooking mass of unfinished recent additions onto the cloth, taking a short break to allow various creatures involved in the decomposition process to recover and retreat. As you pause, cuss. Curse the designers of these contraptions and every blithe garden writer who ever extolled one.

Stop moving the half-digested compost to the burlap once you reach finished compost. That it is done to perfection will be evident to the eyes, fingers and nose. It will be almost black. It will crumble to the touch. And it will be headily sweet-smelling.

Start scooping this finished compost into a wheelbarrow.

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