Smooshed avocado and banana peels, egg shells, onion skins, peach pits, veggie scraps and watermelon rind (when not juicing it). Oh, what a big mess in a pile on my counter every day, but, I love it! It is all part of the process of building fertile, living soil for our garden. It can be a bit messy, and a time consuming process, but it is certainly well worth the effort!

The best approach you can take to enhancing your less-than-stellar-soil is the addition of homemade compost.  Not only will it provide benefits to your garden, it will help you divert waste that would normally end up in the landfill.  Food scraps, yard debris, grass cuttings, hedge clippings, even paper towels and cardboard  can all be composted to a dark, rich humus, then spread out in your garden beds to enrich the soil.

This is our outdoor composter…it’s not pretty, but it certainly does the trick!

cropindoorcomposte2r

The living microbes in the compost function best when the compost materials are about as moist as a wrung out sponge and are provided with many air passages for aerobic breakdown. Adding water and turning the pile maintains efficient decomposition. Extremes of sun, wind, or rain can adversely affect this balance in your pile.

Understanding these key factors when composting allows for efficient, quick break down of kitchen and yard wastes, turning them into “Black Gold”.

Location is very important when planning a compost pile or bin. Though a pile of organic matter will eventually decompose no matter where you place it, the point here is to speed the process up.

  • on level ground
  • has good drainage
  • gets about a half day’s sun
  • protected from high winds
  • away from trees, if possible

You’ll also want to find a location that is convenient for you to access and away from family activities and pet areas.  I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to have to walk far to dump by scraps every day. The easier it is the more likely it will be for you to stick to it.  I have mine right next to our garden, and about 20 steps from my back door.

In our home, everyone is on-board with composting. All of our scraps from apple cores to egg shells, to watermelon rind, to grass clippings get dumped into our composter. We have one for the kitchen, and one in our yard next to the garden. The composter in the kitchen is key to our composting success. there is not a banana peel or nut shell that makes it into our regular garbage pail. We dump the scraps from the indoor composter to the outdoor composter, and turn and water the compost every week or so until the snow comes.

indoor-composter2We fill up our kitchen composter once every day and a half. We initially started with a stainless steel counter top type, then added a second one, because one was not enough. Then, we started to use the double layer paper grocery bags from Whole Foods, and kept it on the floor by the sink. Well, that became messy, and I don’t like messy in the kitchen. Finally,  I purchased the simplehuman Profile Step Trash Can, Brushed Stainless Steel, 10 Liters / 2.6 Gallons at Bed Bath and Beyond with my 20% off coupon! I keep it on the floor by the sink, and it has revolutionized the process of composting in our kitchen day to day – I love it!

cropped-tomato.jpgOur veggies and flowers grow so much richer in flavor and more vibrant in color. We have, on any given compost turn day,  a tremendous amount of worms enjoying the fertile soil.

It is a great lesson for children to learn how to compost, and why we do it. My kids will often bring home their banana peels from their school lunch so they don’t get thrown out in the regular trash. It’s important to take care of our earth, our soil, and educate our youth to be part of the process. Have fun composting and watching your gardens grow abundantly!