Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gardening from my sofa: Composting.

There isn't too much direct, hands-on sort of gardening to do at this time of year, but there is one job that never ends with any season: composting. I make compost here just about every day simply because I cook. Most days there are plenty of vegetable scraps to feed the countertop compost pail. Every few days there's enough to make the run across the yard to the two big composters that sit next to my shed. I am grateful to my indoor bucket, as the trip across the yard in mid-February usually entails boots, coats, gloves and a lot of stomping and whining. I'd rather curl up cozy on the couch when the wind howls than go out and dump bowls of wilted lettuce, coffee grounds and onion peels. That pail keeps it from being an everyday job, all winter. Is it weird to kiss a pail?

It's worth the trouble, though.  All those recycled scraps rot into a wonderful, magic dirt that makes every plant in the garden thrive. It's not rocket science, either. Composting results in a crumbly, brown, nutrient rich soil that will make your roses bloom and your tomatoes the target of squirrels. Squirrels only steal the best tomatoes in the neighborhood. Composting will also give you the right to feel a certain superiour smugness when your neighbors ask what kind of fertilizer you use.

You can learn a huge amount about composting online, and nearly every township has a class or two each spring. While you don't need to use compost units like I have, even a small pile in an unused corner of your garden will do.

That pail in the kitchen makes keeping up a compost program easy, too, as it holds the scraps sealed up with a filter in the lid, so even if you forget to empty it for a few days, there is no smell. Many people use a big bowl to hold their kitchen waste, but, if you live where the weather isn't terrific every day of the year, or you just don't like the look (and often the smell) of a bowl, a compost pail is the way to go. I bought mine at work,, a couple of years ago, along with a supply of extra filters for the lid.

It's easy peasey to trot out after dinner in the summer to ditch the day's worth of scraps; it's nice to go out to enjoy the dusk, the fireflies and see when your next batch of compost will be ready. In the dark of winter, not so much. A few times a week is more than enough time to slip and land on your butt carrying a bucket of, well, garbage out to the yard. It's a gardening chore that I'd MUCH rather do from my couch in winter.

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