California to Puerto Rico

Composting Our Green Waste

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So, we’re not hippies, but we like to do things that are going to help our family sustain our lifestyle. My old polyester resin surfboards will out last Sydneys kids lives, I use red ant killer because those little bastards do no good at all and deserve to die a slow horrible death BUT we grow produce in our garden, we recylce and we compost religiously. Todays story from Rincon is about our compost.

Composting our green waste in the kitchen removes at least half of all or the waste from the trash can (that I bring to the top of the driveway. If all the kitchen waste is composted properly, it will provide a thriving environment for our garden, plants and trees. Compost inoculates soil with beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, etc.) and the habitat that the microbes need to live. These microbes are able to extract nutrients from the mineral part of the soil and eventually pass the nutrients on to our plants.

Kitchen Compost Container

Kitchen Compost Container

Composting – Step 1

The first step to our family and visiting friends composting is making it easy for everyone. We have a small tupperwear container in the kitchen next to the sink that we dump all of our ‘green’ waste in to. We put everything in our compost except meats and dairies. A typical full compost bin upstairs will have egg shells, fruit peels, vegetable peels, discarded lettuce, coffee grounds (w/filter) and paper towels.

Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler

Composting – Step 2

The indicator for moving to step 2, is that the tupperwear container next to the sink is full (sarcasm). Usually, once a day, we bring the container downstairs and dump it into our compost tumbler. The compost tumbler we have is perfect for a small family with a small yard. It is a round bin on a stand that takes our family (with guests) about 2 months to fill up. We turn it 1-3 times a day to airate it and I check it regularly for ant infestations. When you open the door to the composter, the interior of the tumbler is hot from the decomposition going on inside it all day long. The balance between vegetable matter and dry grass/leaves is important. The correct balance will leave you with a compost that does not smell at all.

Composting – Step 3

Backyard Lasagna Compost - Making Black Gold

Backyard Lasagna Compost - Making Black Gold

Once the compost tumbler is full, we roll it on down the hill to our compost area in the yard. We built a 4ft x 4ft round fence away from the house that is effectionally known as our lasagna compster. We put a layer of leaves, palm frons and grass clippings and then we dump our 3/4 decomposed compost matter into the ‘lasagna’. We then add another layer of leaves, palm frons and grass clippings and let the sun, rain and elements do their job. The four vital ingrediants for compost are air, nitrogen, carbon and water. The two major foods a compost pile needs are browns and greens.

Now, after a few weeks of lasagna composting, we get what is referred to in the garden world as BLACK GOLD. Black gold is the finished product of composting. It is very dark, almost black, earthy and smells like soil (not rotting veggies). You should not be able to recognize any of the original ingredients. If you want to learn more about composting, check out this Wiki on composting.

Summer and I compost because it is satisfying and rewarding. The little bit of extra work has worked its way seemlessly into our routine and we reap the benefits everytime we enjoy vegetables from our garden.


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