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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Compost

My newest addition to my recycling endeavor is my sweet pallet compost bin. I have been using it for well over a month with great success. I now have usable compost for my garden and can truly call it organic gardening. I have also used the municipal waste department's compost, which is better than nothing, but you can't beat what you make at home. I think that it is a great service to my garbage disposal to not have so much to chew up and spit down the drain in our water supply.
I really just wanted to take my recycling to the next level and composting was a given because I love gardening. Maybe it isn't right for everyone, but I think it is right for anyone who has a backyard! Even apartment dwellers have options, with vermiculture (worm composting). There are many ways to reuse your waste, but none as perfect as compost.

Just as a simple (overly simple) guide to composting, here is what I have done.
I asked neighbors and businesses for their unused pallets and screwed them together in a square with no bottom, right next to my garden. I then began to mow my yard with a bagger and dump loads of grass trimmings in. Because the books say to use less nitrogen than carbon, I used a lot of fall leaves that I rescued from neighbors. A lot of people bag their leaves and then pile them up beside their houses, and that is the perfect opportunity for me to get them easily and locally. A lot of experienced gardeners use only garden refuse and straw, which makes a superior compost, but I am simple and I like to do things my way. I dump the leaves and layer it with grass and dirt, wetting the layers as I go. This last pile was made with a piece of metal pipe down the center, so I can easily check the temperature of the pile, since I don't have a four foot long compost thermometer. I live on a half acre lot in the city, so there is no end to my grass clippings in spring and fall. I also have a lot of wood chips sitting around from the ice storm of 2006, when we rented an industrial sized chipper. The pile has heated through and been turned twice, an is now ready to roll. I then added a second pile so I can simply turn one pile into the next bin, instead of stirring and fluffing. It has worked out very nicely and improved the health of my plants dramatically.

I think that in life we should all try to follow nature's cue and do as little to leave a mark as possible. I have taught my children and my friend's and their children the importance of the compost bin at my house. And even though they don't recycle at home, here they do and they get to see it in action in the compost pile. It is really neat to see it steaming in the morning and teach the kids about how and why it decomposes, and how every little step to reduce trash is a little step in the right direction.
I feel like we can never do enough to teach our children to be more wise than we are and do the right thing, even when no one is looking!!!
Leave only footprints!

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