Nov 302011
compost pail
compost pail

Make sure you have something that looks good to hold your kitchen scraps

It’s always a challenge to get those kitchen scraps and old food from the refrigerator into the compost pile. You need something right on counter to throw those trimmings into until it’s time to take the long walk outside.  Actually, it shouldn’t be a long walk. If it’s snowing or raining, you want that compost bin easy to get to. However, you don’t want it so close to the house that there are smells or flies. (Of course, ideally, there shouldn’t be any smells or flies, but, alas, life is not always “ideally”).

 Positioning your compost bin is almost a fine art.  It needs to be near the kitchen, out of site of window views, away from outdoor sitting areas, and accessible to get the finished compost.

Positioning also depends on the size of your bin. How big is your family and how much waste do you produce in the kitchen and from the garden?

Small enclosed composter

This small composter keeps out all critters and fits on a deck or small area easily

If you have 1 or 2 people and a small garden, you should consider one of these round bins that take up very little room and work quite well. This bin is large enough to accommodate regular contributions from both the kitchen and a small garden.

The main concern is food scraps that may attract unwanted pests. The best way to deal with this is to use an enclosed bin and have leaves or sawdust to add each time you add wet kitchen garbage.

The most deluxe composter available is this electric one, which you can put in the garage or on a porch. It really does the work and gives you finished compost in two weeks.

electric composter

This composter works fast and is really easy to use

Click Here For Great Composting Supplies

Oct 252011
Large trees give a lot of leaves

The Might Oak Tree over our House

It used to be that I could never find enough leaves to compost for the garden. I used to drive to the nearest cemetary. I kid you not. Now I have an embarrassment of leaf riches. Leaves are everywhere around my house. If you have this problem, DO NOT DESPAIR! Do NOT rake up those leaves, put them in a plastic bag and give them to the garbage men.  That would make me cry. It would be a crime against nature.

All leaves are not created equal.  The oak tree, or Quercus, has roots that go deep into the earth and bring up many minerals and nutrients.  These then go into the leaves.  The leaves fall to earth and are a gift to the gardener. The oak contains qualities that are oceans above other trees.

Huge pile of oak leaves

This pile of oak leaves will compost over the winter

Do not use leaves from Eucalyptus, Bay laurel or Walnut.  They contain tanins that are not good for your plants.

To make sure your pile stays together and creates enough heat to break down, you might want to consider getting a simple wire cage.


Although the leaves falling continuously may get a little annoying, and even a little messy, be grateful for they will make next year’s garden even better. Trust me, you want to keep these guys on the premises.


Leaf mold

Composted leaves look clean and smell earthy



When the leaves break down, they turn into leaf mold, which is not really mold, so don’t hold your nose. It smells clean and fresh.  You can add this to your strawberry beds, raspberries, and blueberries, who all love a little acidic soil.  You can also add it to your topsoil for working into the beds.

Acer palmatum

Japanese Maples are beautiful in all seasons and give great leaves for your compost

Aug 302011

Easy compost bin (click to enlarge)

Let me tell you that composting is one of the greatest things you can do in the garden.  It’s the hidden treasure at your house.  First of all, the ingredients are FREE.  They are the scraps from your kitchen, the weeds you throw away, the prunings, scrapings and left overs from your garden.  Usually, people throw them in the garbage, put them in the green bin or worst of all, put them in PLASTIC Bags and then throw them away. Yikes!

Why would you throw away your greatest asset?  Because you didn’t realize that what looks like garbage will be turned into gold.  It’s easy to do and you’ll love the results.

Inside my compost bin

I’ve been using this compost bin for about 20 years.  I never turn it, water it, or futz with it.  I just throw those kitchen scraps inside it and cover them with some dry leaves, weeds or a little sawdust.  You need to pay little attention to what you put in the bin, because there needs to be a combination of wet and dry elements.  Too wet and it gets all mushy, too dry and it doesn’t break down.

Don’t put noxious things in the pile like bermuda grass, poison oak or ivy or noxious weed seed. Unless your compost gets very hot, it won’t kill these pesky plants.

It may take a little time to break down, but as I like to say, “Life composts”. Eventually everything organic breaks down.  It’s just a matter of time.

The indoor compost holder

This is the can I use in the kitchen to hold my food scraps until I put them outside. It looks good, holds several days worth of food and has NO odor or flies. With the foot pedal I have two hands free to scrape the bowls.  Nobody would even know you are hiding old food in the kitchen.

I call this guilt free living.  Have you ever looked in your refrigerator and found bags of old, rotten lettuce, or food in containers with blue green mold? Have you felt guilty about throwing away good food? Well, never again, because all that good stuff is going into the compost and then into your garden to feed your plants. Definitely a win-win situation.

There is more to learn about composting, but the most important thing to do is get started!


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