As we begin our journey on reducing our food waste there is something we should confess up front to each other. No one is perfect. There will still be food waste in your life. My friend, Betsy gave me a mantra that I use every day. Progress not perfection. As Christians, we would say give yourself grace. As women and mothers in particular, there are so many self-imposed hurdles we try to do each day. Be the perfect Mom, be the perfect wife, be the perfect co-worker or stay-at-home-mom, be the perfect girl friend, and the list goes on. Now you are probably saying, “You want me to be the perfect composter?” The answer is no.
I am not the perfect composter at all but what I do do is compost. I am going to explain the perfect composting way which my sister does and then I am going to explain my composting which is the laziest way to do it. (Smile).
I am so proud of my baby sister. One day she called to inform me that she had taken a class at the county extension office on composting. Most county extension offices offer these classes for free and if they don’t in your area then there should be someone who can teach you. If you are in a MOPs group or some other type of group this might be a fun field trip event for you. Just type in your city and compost on Google and something should pop up. Of course if you can’t find something local, let’s go where everyone goes…YouTube.
So the first thing you need to make a decision about is, “Am I going to use this for a gardening project or a kitchen garden or I am just going to have it maybe to use it at some point?” Hint the second option is my style. If you are going to get somewhat serious, then there is a formula of “wet” waste aka kitchen scraps to “brown” waste which can be yard waste, that includes grass clippings, leaves, sticks. To have the most successful compost that decomposes correctly, that balance needs to be adhered to. There are plenty of articles on the net about it.
If you are going to be somewhat serious then you probably want to invest in some type of composting container. These can range from reasonable to outrageous in pricing. The thing that most people want is an easy way to rotate it. That’s the most important consideration.
My sister has a two step process. She has a kitchen composter that sits on her counter until it is full. Once the kitchen composter is full it goes to the back yard to the barrel composter that sits in a track that let’s her or my brother-in-law spin it. When it’s full it can be a bit heavy. That’s when her husband really helps spinning it. I used the composter while I was visting and let me tell you! The soil is this amazing deep black moist almost wet compost. Remember this is soil that you don’t have to buy and is more healthy and dense because it comes from all your non-meat and dairy food scraps.
Once my sister and brother-in-law started making compost, they got serious about growing some of their own food. Let me be clear. My sister and husband do not live out on some piece of property in the country. They are squarely in the middle of the suburbs and do all their gardening now in pots. They have the most amazing cabbage, green beans, peppers and even pineapples that my nephew started from tops of other pineapples they had bought.
Not only do they have great wholesome food there is just a lot of satisfaction from the growing process. Plus, being conservative, they love the fact that they are actually helping their county lighten the burden on the landfill and transportation costs of moving perfectly good materials for compost that would just decompose in the landfill and never be regenerated back to soil. Once kitchen scraps go to the landfill they can never be turned into soil again because of all the other contaminants that are alongside them.
I always say God knew what he was doing when he created the garden. He was efficient and made things in a cycle that would be regenerative. We are so far away from that now. That’s why creation care can be really fun because it reconnects us with all the cool things God did to provide for us.
So here’s my style. I have a half wooden barrel next to my back door. Every time I have scraps, I just toss them in the barrel. I have amazing results too. However, my volume is much smaller which is why knowing how you want to use your compost is so important. My way actually yields what as known as volunteers, which means the seeds from some fruits or vegetables sprout up. The bucket is on the north side of the house and gets zero sun and I still get sprouts. In my old house, my compost yielded plenty of tomatoes that I did nothing to deserve. My current compost goes on my blueberry bushes in the fall.
Quick note about composting: only put fruit, vegetable, coffee grounds, and washed egg shells in the compost. Do not put any meat, grease or dairy products like milk or cheese. You will attract some very nasty critters to your compost like rats, raccoons and opossums and it will kill your soil production because decomposition will take so much longer. More advice of course is available on the net. Check out one of my favorite YouTube gardening gurus – GrowingYourGreens, he covers everything for growing your own food and compost.
So as you can see there is plenty of what I call “unintended benefits” from composting at home and you are actually reducing your food waste, just in another way.