Make it Monday: Compost!

2:48 PM

We have two problems: we waste too much and our soil sucks.

Luckily, if you have a box you have a solution.

I have been composting since I was old enough to throw a banana peel. When I was in elementary school our compost actually lit on fire due to an abundance of dry materials and a lot of sun, and it burnt down a tree and some of our neighbour's fence. This didn't slow me down. When I moved to an apartment in February of last year, I continued composting, although out of used ice cream buckets, and only enough to nourish a balcony sized garden.

I might not be able to convince you to eat wild mushrooms or throw out your shampoo, but I beg you to take my advice on this one. Start today. Never contribute perfectly good food scraps to an ever-growing land fill again.

Here's how.

Start with your box. You can buy one, or you can be that much more interesting of a person and build it yourself. Procure wood boards (ship wreckage or an abandoned barn will do) about 2 feet long each. Use a log cabin method to build up your composting bin, about 3 feet high. Long nails will be of help, and a solid, level piece of ground to work on will prove helpful also. You can also create a lid or simply deal with the ... aroma. But keep in mind: a good compost smells great. Keeping gaps between the boards will allow air to reach the lovely brew.

You may now laugh uncontrollably at my ability to explain carpentry.

At this point if a box has actually been created you're off to a good start. It's time to fill it. Start with a layer of bricks to further promote air circulation. Then alternate wet and dry materials.

Wet: any kitchen scraps such as vegetable peelings, spoiled non-animal foods, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, pet litter, failed plant growing attempts...

Dry: dead leaves, dead branches, newspapers, compostable coffee cups, cardboard...

You can add tiger worms to encourage the process but remember they're fussy. They need the right amount of light and moisture to really bury and thrive. Also, with this method your best compost is at the bottom and the top will take a long time to decompose, so it's best to have a box with a bottom feed opening. You can buy these at Lee Valley.

Your compost is ready when it is deep brown, crumbly, moist and earthy-smelling. You may want to have 2 composts going so there is always one ready (much like sprouting!) This delicious concoction will nourish all of your future plants and will constantly thank you for saving it from certain death.

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