Ryan


July 6th, 2012 by Ryan
Posted in Being Green

I am a lazy gardener. While I love shrubs, beautiful trees, and an attractive flowerbed, I tend to leave things a little unkempt. Maybe it’s the tension between liking to control what’s in my small patch of land and a desire to let Nature have her way. This less-than-careful approach extends to our compost pile. I love the fact that I can remove yet more stuff from the landfill stream, which then creates biomass that will ultimately enrich my soil. And it’s trash!

As a short aside, I wanted to point out that landfills are designed to discourage the breakdown of organic materials. Nothing will biodegrade in a landfill. If it does, it creates problems. So if you possibly have the option, please don’t put food scraps (which I will define below) into your trash.

There are compost evangelists a plenty who will lay out the exact proportions of brown and green materials to put in your compost for the fastest, most nutrient-rich batch. You can spend a good bit of money and time creating the perfect, high-yield compost setup. Or, like me, you can just get a decent enclosure and dump your scraps in it whenever, mixed in with grass clippings, dead leaves, twigs, or whatever yard waste takes your fancy. The wonderful thing about compost is that this stuff will break down no matter what you do, eventually. It may not happen according to your gardening schedule, but I treat our compost heap as a repository, not a worksite.

I like to avoid any seeds or thorny clippings in the yard waste. As for desirable food scraps, think egg shells, fruit and fruit skins, any uncooked veggies, or coffee grounds. Leave out any bones, meat, fat, oils, or processed sugars, which may deny a lot of table scraps. And while compost may fit quite easily into your residential life, composting at work has a few more issues. I suspect, if we pursued it, the compost option would have to have a coordinator who made sure only the good stuff was going in, and that the receptacle was emptied in a timely manner. Have you composted at work? If so, is it successful? What insights could you share?

This last note isn’t related to the rest of this post, but I want to do a shout-out to an offshore wind farm that’s going online off the west coast of England. This is where I see wind turbines being very effective, without the disturbing psychological effects I wrote about earlier. The cool part for me is that I used to live near here when I was a kid, in the town of Barrow-in-Furness. We used to go tide-pooling on Walney Island.

2 Responses to “Compost Happens”

  1. Betty Says:

    Living in a little patch of woods in the country has its green benefits. I can throw organic material off my back porch into the woods and they magically disappear.

  2. Roger Brown Says:

    We love to garden as well and have been composting for decades. Usually just piling on scraps and grass clippings is fine: it will all compost eventually. But if you have a lot of weeds, it’s best to ensure toy have a hot compost pile, which will cook the seeds so they don’t sprout when yo spread them. Hot piles break down organic matter faster. To get a hot compost it pays to layer clippings and soil, as per the recommendations you find online. And to turn the pile every so often. But if you have no seedy weeds, relax, it all breaks down eventually.

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