the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out–cultivating healthy compost

Sunday around here is K cup recycling and compost turning day.   All week, I have the folks in my office throw their K cups filled coffee and tea grounds into a bin, then I bring it home on the weekend.  Cleaning the filter and contents out is not as labor intensive as it sounds–I can do about 50 cups in 15 minutes.  Not much time sacrificed for the sake of the Earth.

compost pile before turning

Anyway, after I clear out all the K cups, I turn the compost pile.  I find that my compost breaks down more quickly if I move it around a bit.  Doing so helps it get the air it needs to different layers as well as mixes up the goodies I put in there so they break down more quickly.

So what do I compost?

  • any raw fruit and veggie scraps or those that have not been cooked with any meat, fish, egg, dairy, or oil
  • egg shells that I crunch up first to help in the decomposition process
  • leaves, lots and lots of dead leaves

    compost after turning
  • paper bags, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, corrugated cardboard, and paper towels/napkins
  • tea bags, tea leaves, tea filters, coffee filters, coffee grounds
  • shredded paper
  • plant cuttings EXCEPT weeds
  • old mulch or small pieces of wood/sticks

While I don’t consider myself an expert on compost (you need to go visit my friend #CompostJunkie if you want the whole shebang  at http://www.compostjunkie.com/), I do find that my compost breaks down quickly and creates rich, organic matter that has done wonders for my veggie and fruit beds as well as around hydrangeas and other bushy plants.

pallet compost bin (ground covered in scrap cardboard which will decompose)

So how do I compost the matter?  I create layers of the stuff I noted above.  I keep a nice compost bucket on my cabinet so that it makes for easy scrap collecting.  Once I pour those onto my compost bed, I cover with a light layer of dried leaves.  The coffee and tea grounds from recycling on Sundays get sprinkled evenly on top before turning the compost. Paper and cardboard are always shredded or torn to make the job easier.

As for where I compost. I used to have a natural pit in the woods beside my gardens.  I always threw clippings, leaves, and scraps in there then found that it was making amazing food for my farm.  Unfortunately,however, when I tried to box it in last summer, I stirred up a few yellow jackets who were living in a hole in the moist ground.  Needless to say, I didn’t step foot in that area until it was cold enough for them to be tucked away for winter.

I have ended up making a compost bin out of upcycled pallets and wood.  I realize it will eventually decompose, but that will be awhile.  In the mean time, here’s what I learned from that experience:

  • Long, low pallets work better than short high ones.  By using shorter pallets, I am able to get enough leverage on my pitchfork to turn the compost.  Long ones kept me from having to find a way to connect a few boxy ones.
  • Make the compost bin wide enough so you can get your hauling “equipment” in and out.

    the worms crawl in. . .

And finally, do NOT cover the bottom floor of you compost bin–this will allow for worms and other creepy crawlies to enter.  They are great for breaking down stuff and creating new organic matter.  I have been known to throw a few extra worms in there myself when I find them skittering in the leaves after a rainstorm.

So head outside and scope out a place you can start your own pile.  Believe me–the extra time you spend will not only help the environment but will grow you some amazingly delicious and healthy food!

 

 

 

One thought on “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out–cultivating healthy compost

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s