Composting

Sep 10, 2009

I do not have a green thumb. I can’t even keep my houseplants alive. This past Christmas, I actually asked my parents to buy me those Aqua Globes that you see on TV. I figured, with those, I would only need to worry about “watering” the plants every two weeks.

How’s it going, you ask? Two weeks was apparently too often because my once green plants are now a nice shade of coffee brown.

On occasion, perhaps in his quest to be “helpful,” the way only a husband can be, Rob will make a comment to me about my drooping plants or my empty Aqua Globes. I always reply with, “Do our children look like they’re starving?”

“No,” he tells me.

“Good. Then at least I’m making sure they are fed. I can only deal with the needs of so many living things at one time.”

Despite the fact that Rob does not step up to the plate and water the plants spread out throughout the interior of our house regularly, he is, in fact, the one with the talent for growing things in the dirt. We have a great backyard with lots of flowers and plants and trees and cacti. We even have a large coy pond that Rob dug ten years ago with just a shovel – an impressive feat considering the fact that Texas ground is nothing but rock and the pond is now 10 feet long and 6 feet deep.

On the side of our house, we have a vegetable garden, which this past summer produced lettuce, carrots, peppers (lots and lots and lots of peppers), radishes, tomatoes and even a cantaloupe (we’re not quite sure where that came from!).

And, next to our beautiful garden is our very picturesque compost pile.

Okay, it’s not very picturesque. It’s not even very appealing to look at. But, none the less, we do have a compost pile and it is on the side of our house and it does fertilize our garden and backyard plants. (And, luckily, it’s on the side of the house where no one can see it!)

I must admit, I fought the idea of composting for a long time. It just seemed so dirty to me. And, in Texas, I was afraid that leaving any food scraps out there might attract snakes – or even worse – rats!

I would voice my concerns to Rob, who I’m not sure every listened to them, because he continued to compost – though, mostly the pile was just full of tree, grass and plant trimmings. I am in charge of the food preparation in our house and so, in order to get any leftovers from the kitchen, Rob would have had to get by me. And, I wasn’t totally convinced that this whole composting thing was worth my while.

That is, until I saw an Oprah show about two years ago. Oprah had on Julia Roberts and she was talking about composting. She demonstrated what she puts into her compost pile, how she “mixes” the pile every week, and what types of food are good for composting and which ones are “rat” attractors (my greatest fear) and should be avoided. (If you’d like to read about that show, click here.)

When the show was over, I jumped on the compost wagon. I am all for recycling, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. On a whole, I feel like, as a family, we do not waste a lot of food. I do my best to use all of the groceries we buy and we do not have a lot to throw away on our plates each evening. But, once you start taking note of all you do throw away (the snapped-off part of green beans, the ends of broccoli, the stems of grapes, the tops of strawberries, the onion skins, the apple cores . . . coffee grinds . . . the list goes on and on) you will be shocked at how much food you throw away that could be composted and made into fertilizer.

Through trial and error we have come up with a system that works for us. At first, we were just keeping the composted items in a bucket in the kitchen until it got full and then one of us (or sometimes one of the kids) would go “dump it” on the pile outside. But, that quickly attracted a ton of fruit flies. What we now do is we use an empty Clorox wipes container. (Actually, it is the Costco generic brand – no shocker there), but it has a very tight lid that goes on it (and keeps us bug-free). As I am cooking and cutting up food, I throw the scraps in the container. As with the bucket system, when it is full one of us takes it outside. Rob is in charge of “mixing” the compost pile – there is only so much I am willing to do!

And then, in a relatively short amount of time, the compost from the bottom of the pile is ready to be used as fertilizer for our garden and other plants. It saves us money when it comes to not having to buy fertilizer, plus we are eliminating the amount of trash that leaves our house in plastic bags – and that makes me very happy. And, as a bonus, we are (hopefully) teaching our children the importance of not wasting what you can "recycle."

As I learned from my new buddy, Julia Roberts, you should never compost animal products, such as meat, cheese, eggs (though the shells are okay) because those will attract animals you do not want near your house!

If you are not able to, or willing to, have a large compost pile in your yard, there are compost “bins” you can purchase that you can keep either in or outside your house. They “hide” the pile in a much more attractive way.

Rob, every once in awhile, will make a comment about how he tried to get me to compost for years and I wouldn’t. But then, he says, I saw Julia Roberts and Oprah doing it and I was all gung ho!

“What’s that about?” he wants to know.

“Whatever it takes, babe.” I tell him. “Whatever it takes.”

7 comments:

Anne - mommyhastowork said...

We started a compost too - it's gross!!

:)

Visiting from MBC and following.

http://mommyhastowork.blogspot.com/

Kelly Seiler said...

I agree! It IS gross! I suggested to my husband that we get one of those cute little composting box/bins - like they had on Oprah. He thought I was nuts! Why pay the money for that? he wanted to know. Oh, well. If he'll mix it and I don't have to look at it, I guess it's all good - for us and the environment! :-)

Clueless_Mama said...

I would love to know more about how to get started composting. It is something I have wanted to do ever since I saw that Oprah too! LOL Maybe we can talk and you can help me ;)

Kelly Seiler said...

Since my husband was the one who "started" the compost pile, I'll ask him what to do first and get back to you! :-)

mudmama said...

Great blog! Going to hit "follow" button now!c Found ya on MBC, please come visit! :)
Lauren
www.ajourneytotheson.blogspot.com

Molly said...

I haven't started a compost pile...yet. I do try to get rid as much as I can in the garbage disposal!

Kelly's Husband said...

OK I am going to have to start my own blog to respond to some of my wifes posts, however I wouldn't keep it up. In responce to Clueless Mama composting should be done and layers, a couple inches of grass, a couple inches of food scraps, a couple inches of leaves and the repeat. However I am never that organized, so I just keep the pile stirred and since we live in Texas I water it every once and awhile. Just pick a spot in your yard, fence it in, or just make a pile, keep out animal by products, weeds that have gone to seed, diseased plants, and woody plants and just have at it.

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