I am constantly impressed by the volume of compostable waste that our family of two generates each week.
We have a rather elaborate garbage system in the kitchen: a basket for recyclable plastics and cans, a bin for paper and cardboard, a stainless steel mixing-bowl for scraps, a small green bin for anything else compostable but that I don’t want in my garden (like bones, fats, scrapings from the plate after eating, tissue paper, tea bags) and a general garbage bin for everything else. It consists of only 1 small kitchen-catcher of garbage that goes to the curb each week plus our recycling and large bin compost.
The bowl for scraps is specifically for pre-cooked items like:
- vegetable or fruit stalks, seeds and peel
- egg shells
- coffee grinds and loose tea
- leaf clippings from house plants and flowers
We generate a least 1 -2 bowls per week of just these few items from food preparation and they get dropped in one of the black compost bins in my garden. This process of throwing whole food “garbage” into a compost bin has saved me $20-40 in bags of soil plus another $120 in mulch delivery each year.
I have two bins. The active one I keep closest to the house where I toss in the bowls of food scraps, and add in layers of peat moss, through out the whole year. In late summer, before the September harvest, I empty the other compost bin that has been resting beside my rhubarb patch and combine it with manure in a wheel barrow. A bit messy, but this dark and nutrient rich mixture gets folded into my garden soil and then topped with cut stalks from the irises and lilies to create a mulch that protects my perennials over the winter.
At the end of each season I turn the compost by transferring all the food scraps into the empty “resting” bin beside the rhubarb. To start a fresh compost, it gets rinsed out with a garden hose, filled with raked leaves and clippings from my perennial garden, as well as the soil and annuals in planters. Then throughout the year I add the food scraps and layers of peat moss. This 2-year cycle between the two bins produces a fully decomposed compost with enough decay to kill any seeds.
What about grass clippings?
It really depends. At our house, hand pulled weeds and grass clippings are put in paper bags for the city to collect. We are combating ragweed, clover, dandelions, thistles, crabgrass, and broadleaf plantain, as well as cinch worm and leather jackets. It’s a loosing battle on my front lawn. Even though we compost over two years, the city’s program helps reduce cross-contamination.
We pay a lawn care company to fertilize and spray the new non-toxic variety of herbicide and for nematodes – although it doesn’t seem effective. I also thatch the grass and over seed in the spring, and Steve will water and mow the grass at a good length of 2-3″ all summer. Between the two of us, we have a vibrant garden and a lawn project in progress.