What is Compost?
Compost is the process of recycling your kitchen or yard waste and turning it into rich organic soil conditioner. This waste* is put inside a Composter, a brilliant contraption designed to facilitate the process of composting or decomposing.
*The waste: egg shells, banana skins, coffee grinds, fruit, vegetables, shredded newspaper, cardboard, and leaves are excellent waste materials. I recommend that you chop, slice or shred everything before adding it to your compost pail, the transit station. This ‘transit’ state is while you fill up your compost pail. When it’s filled up, you take it and empty the entire contents in your outdoor composter.
What to put in the composter:
**F R U I T
**V E G E T A B L E S
**E G G S H E L L S
**C O F F E E G R I N D S
**L E A V E S
**G R A S S C L I P P I N G S
**S H R E D D E D N E W S P A P E R
everything should be chopped, shredded or torn into smaller pieces.
No meats, salad dressing or syrups…you want the waste to be as close to what grows in nature as possible. Newspaper and cardboard are useful because they are the ‘browns’ you need to keep your composter from getting too mushy=stinky=yucky.
THE COMPOSTER: directions based on the Valentina Composter.
Your composter needs to be prepared to receive the materials. Start by shredding 4 pages of a newspaper, and covering the chicken wire, for example. That is what I have in Valentina. Then add a layer of soil. The next best thing you should add are: WORMS. They are brilliant at breaking up the waste. You will be amazed by the speed they can eat and break down all the materials with such admirable swiftness and discretion. If you are WORM sensitive, have a friend add them. WORMS are the unsung heroes of our gardens! With or without WORMS, add all your ‘green’ items, which are your rotten lettuce, mushy banana’s, inedible strawberries, forgotten moldy and decaying somethings, your coffee grinds, leaves and grass clippings (only if you do not use pesticides).
The time to be patient…..
It can take up to 8 months for a composter to really get going and be active. Make sure you check on it regularly, turning the materials with a hand trowel, hand rake or barbecue fork. If it’s looking dry, spritz it with water. If it’s looking too wet and soggy, add some shredded newspaper and stir. If you see maggots, which I have, just look away and stir the compost. It’s actually a good sign if you spot any bugs, tiny worms or beetles. That means that you have a happening composter. If the bugs like it, it means it’s working. Keep the lid closed at night and when it rains. I leave the lid open on my Valentina during the day, if it’s looking a little too wet. It’s best to keep the lid closed so the inside gets nice and warm. If your composter ever smells, it’s because it’s too wet inside and you must add some shredded newspaper to dry it up a little. Spread the rotting materials around will help as well.
Once the materials have fully decomposed, they will drop down through the chicken wire of the Valentina and you can open the door to the lower chamber and scoop out the earthy gold, a pile of dark brown, well rotted, fabulously organic material.
It’s a home chore that has effortlessly become part of my lifestyle and a new topic of conversation in my family : So, how’s Valentina doing today? She’s busy, very busy…