Does the word “composting” fill you with guilt?
Do you remember back when you were going to build the perfect bin?
Or that great thing you saw on composting with worms that you’ve always wanted to do but never did?
Or maybe you have an expensive cranked compost tumbler sitting in your backyard with nothing in it but a few dry coffee grounds and a blackened banana peel?
Composting is one of those things we know we should do, like buckling our safety belts, staying in school and recycling… yet more often than not, we still throw away our food scraps and yard waste rather than returning them to the ground.
It’s time to stop feeling guilty and start making changes.
No matter who you are or where you live, you can compost. Even composting meat is easy. The great thing is that it doesn’t really require bins, tumblers, kitchen canisters or any other infrastructure.
All you need to do is let things rot!
This last winter I wrote a little book on composting that I hope will change a lot of minds on the topic while taking away guilt from those who have suffered under their landfill-stuffing sins for too long. The book is titled Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting. As I write this article, it’s the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s gardening section. One reason I believe my book is so popular is because it relieves folks from the pressure of composting.
What kind of pressure?
How about the need to turn piles? Or the need to get your carbon/nitrogen ratios perfect? Or the need to build a nice bin?
I wrote my book so folks wouldn’t worry so much about making perfect compost and instead just start returning everything organic to the ground safely in order to feed their plants and reduce the amount of potential soil food that is going into landfills rather than back into the soil.
So – how can you start doing that right now, without a bin? Here are a couple simple ideas.
If you have a yard, just start saving your kitchen scraps in a lidded container. I use a five-gallon bucket because we go through a lot of garden produce on our homestead. You can compost meat, junk mail (just not glossy pieces or the plastic window in bills), bones, scrap paper, moldy bread and whatever else you like until you’ve got a good amount in there. Heck – maybe this is the time to clean our your fridge!
Then, just go outside and dig a hole a couple of feet deep, then empty the bucket in your pit and cover the mess with soil. Voila! You’ve returned all that material to the ground! As long as it’s deep enough and covered up well, animals will leave it alone… but the roots of your trees and plants will find that delicious organic matter with no problem.
In fact, I’ve used this method to grow Seminole pumpkins and watermelons in the hot, dry sand of my front yard. I dug a good-sized pit, dumped in everything from beef stew to coffee grounds, ashes and chunks of rotten wood, then filled in the pit with some soil and planted seeds on top. The vines that emerged needed no additional fertilization and really enjoyed eating all the stuff we’re often told we “can’t” compost.
In its simplest form, composting is just a natural process of decay. When you throw out your food scraps and paper scraps, you’re exporting potential soil fertility from your property. When you bury them in your yard, you’re increasing the richness of your land.
Of course, if you want perfect compost for your garden you can set up a bin and make nice, brown crumbly humus from your scraps; however, you’ll likely do just as well burying kitchen scraps beneath your beds and planting on top of them! I know the earthworms love the fresh material… and your plants don’t mind either.
If you live in an apartment or a dorm, why not ask around and see if there are any gardeners in your circle of friends that might appreciate your scraps? If not, you can always just pick a tree in the woods and dump them there. Throw a few leaves over the scraps and no one will even know you were there… but the tree will appreciate it!
It’s time to quit feeling guilty and start composting!
David Goodman (AKA David The Good) is an author and gardening teacher as well as the creator of the popular daily gardening site Florida Survival Gardening. His brand new book Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting is laugh-out-loud funny and teaches you how to compost meat, bones, logs, junk mail and more, as well as simple methods for creating homemade fish emulsion and raising worms. It is on sale at Amazon for just $2.99 right now.
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