Thursday, September 6, 2007

Day Sixty-Five - Black Gold

Starting a Compost Pile

Oh happy day, happy day!!!! My Garden Gourmet composter arrived today and I can't WAIT to get it set up! It took a while to find a compost container that wouldn't draw too much attention from the Home-Owner's Association, but I think this is a keeper! It is supposedly critter-proof and can be placed in a shady area -- which is good because that's the only place my HOA will allow me to put it.

I have a whole gooey, slimey bucket of kitchen scraps and coffee grounds under the kitchen sink that I'm excited to dump into my new composter. I started saving them about three weeks ago, hoping that having a stinking pile of garbage fester in my kitchen would motivate me to get the composter. It did, but not quickly enough, as I had to resort to tossing out some food scraps this past week because my under-the-sink container was full. I hope I don't gag when I dump it out.

Why did I decide to start composting? Well, according to an article published by the Environmental Defense Fund, organic waste accounts for approximately 21 percent of the waste stream in the United States. Landfilling organic waste is highly inefficient because the lack of oxygen inside of the landfill causes decomposition to occur slowly. This produces methane gas and acidic leachate. In addition to contributing to the environmental problems created by landfills, organic waste takes up valuable space that could be used for other waste products.

I am so happy to be doing my part to help reduce the amount of organic waste being sent to landfills! I will be tossing all my scraps (except meat) into my composter and turning it every few days. By spring, I hope to have enough beautiful, dark compost to fill a large portion of my yet-to-be-constructed vegetable garden!


If I do it correctly, I should be able to eliminate virtually all of my organic waste. The only items I won't be able to put in the compost are dairy and meats, which I can dispose of mostly through the garbage disposal. The only "throw aways" I can think of that I can't avoid are chicken bones. My goal is to get to a point where my landfill trash is so "clean", that I'll be able to cancel the weekly trash pickup (at $66 per quarter) and just take my one bag of trash in the minivan down to the dump. I should save enough money in a year to cover the cost of the composter!

Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5

In theory, composting is very simple. Save your scraps, toss them in a pile and turn it occasionally. And it is that simple if you live out in the country, but for a whole lot of Americans living in suburbia, we must find a solution that will not offend our unenlightened neighbors and HOA's.

So, for now, I'll be forced to hide my dull, black composter in the shadows, behind my "privacy lattice" where such uglies as trash cans and air handlers are kept. Yes, progress is slow, my friends, but if we keep pushing, the day will come when the suburban composter will be viewed as an elegant beautiful lawn accessory, available in an array of colors, perhaps even sporting the logo for your favorite college team.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I love your blog! I'm going to start reading so I can learn new ways to be more green.

I just built a pallet composter a few weeks ago and it makes me so happy.

One idea I had when I read this post -- you can "reuse" your chicken bones (and beef bones). Before you throw them away, use them to make stock. Just put in a crock pot (or on the stove), add filtered water and a couple tablespoons of vinegar. You can also add some veggies.

It is great because you get a lot more mileage out of the same food. And it's very nutritious. I add beef or chicken stock to everything now -- I make soups and sauces with it and I use it to make rice with (instead of water).

dorriola said...

I just got the garden gourmet composter from my neighbor who doesn't use it. Is there supposed to be a bottom piece? Or should it be open to the ground? That seems silly, because you'd lose a lot of the moisture and compost "tea".

I look forward to your response, and love your blog :)

Burbanmom said...


Congrats! No, there is no bottom, so you do lose all that groovy "tea"... but the grass around your composter will be the healthiest stuff on the block!

The good news is, the open bottom lets lots of fun critters in to munch on all of your leftovers.

Best of luck!