On compost

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Yep, it’s a picture of our “garbage.”

So, this local diet? This lack of fresh vegetables? My compost pile is suffering.

I suppose this is, in a way, a good thing: we’re definitely low contributors to the waste stream. We eat every last little bit of our precious salad greens; all our frozen veggies likewise are completely eaten…there’s no waste there at all. The chickens are eager consumers of leftovers (pasta, oatmeal, bread heels) and resigned consumers of beet peelings. Peelings, in the main, are the ONLY veg detritus destined for the compost: potatoes, carrots and celeriac; onions and garlic. The occasional apple core also finds its way in the daily pot.

Coffee filters, grounds, and old coffee is probably 50% of what remains, that, and egg shells. Yum, huh?

(FWIW: I keep dumping the kitchen scraps atop the heap in the winter. Our pets’ fur, our sweepings with the broom, likewise, get thrown on top. Leaves, grass clippings, orchard leavings, spent garden plants, and all that wonderful chicken litter is the rest of it. On a day of a big thaw, you’ll find me out there turning the piles; I kind of can’t help myself, as I like the exercise. But otherwise, I am the most impatient composter I know. I don’t ever devote the year or more required to make a pile completely cakey and perfect: it doesn’t matter if I have 3 piles or 30, I will find use for them all, in whatever state of nonreadiness the piles’re in. The garden’s microbes will do the rest of the work for me!)

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8 responses to “On compost

  1. Your compost pile is an inspiration. I’ve definitely noticed that during the winter the birds will take almost everything that would have gone on the pile (if we had one). I can already see that ours will be mostly chicken straw, weeds and “things the girls can’t eat”.

    BTW, I’m passing on the E for Excellent award to you. Keep it up.
    http://urbanhennery.com/2008/02/15/e-is-for-excellent/

  2. I put all our coffee grounds around the blueberries who seem to love them. Our compost is primarily winter animal bedding and those things that are too tough (like banana peels) or too far gone to give to the animals.

  3. Hey, another michigander who gardens!

  4. Aw, Laura, you’re so nice! And just think: amongst the things you get to plan is where your compost pile gets to reside.

    Danielle, yes, that’s a great idea with the coffee grounds. Our land is just fine without the augmentation; we’re 15 miles south of the Blueberry Capital of the World (or some such) in the town of South Haven. So, around here, where you’d normally see cornfields, there’re fields of blueberry bushes. But do you have to go out and find more stuff to give your pigs? I can’t imagine you’d have enough leftovers to make them happy.

    Bug Girl! Hilarious! Though I will take you on with the garden challenge: I’ll bet mine can kick your garden’s butt! Hwah!

  5. Alas, yes, I buy organic feed for the pigs and birds. I’m hoping that getting a cow will help cut that drastically, and I’m planning to plant some cover crops that will help with feed as well. Of course, pasture helps as well; I’m really feeling the pinch this winter with the rising feed costs. Thinking, planning, scheming, doncha know.

    Lucky you in blueberry world! I actually got more than a handful off my plants last year and was in heaven. It’s so hard waiting for the fruits. I’m such an impatient gardener—that really should’ve been the title of my blog.

  6. Danielle, yeah, I can imagine you’d feel the pinch of feed costs going up! I’m wondering about forage crops for you. I know that in days of yore folks with a pig or two out back fed them things like beets grown just for them. And then the chickens: is it possible for you to grow your own corn, or alfalfa, or something? Just a few 100′ rows of dent corn maybe? I will go look into my old Vilmorin primer; I know there’s more options out there to help…you’d just have to plant it and be patient is all 🙂

  7. Our chickens are happy to eat even potato and carrot peels- a 3 min simmer on the wood stove, mix peels and “stock” with other chicken scraps and they love it….. even less for compost.

  8. Eva, wow. That wouldn’t be hard, would it? As it is, these girls are already so spoiled: yesterday, they got creme brulee. (They are fiends for dairy, but, well, aren’t we all?) I gave them some arugula from the greenhouse yesterday and you should have seen them squabbling.

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