just another word for efficient: backyard composting

I’ll admit it:  I’ve got a lazy streak–which is why I compost waste in my backyard.  You know, with one of those standard black plastic composters with aeration holes. 

I figure that if I put fruit and vegetable waste out there, it’s that much less stuff to lug to the curb on garbage day.  Since about half of the material I put back there is water, a lot of it really disappears, but would add weight to the stuff I bring to the curb.

Plus it’s easier.  Jar of olives that’s past its prime?  Leftover oatmeal?  All of that watery stuff goes straight to the composter–no leaks, no mess.

When we eat dinner at the patio table outside, corn cobs and leftover vegetables go directly into the composter before I bring the dishes back into the house.

Once in a while, I cover the fruit and vegetable waste with leaves, old compost (which looks like a dark mix of ground, leaves and twigs) or ground.  This helps accelerate decomposition and discourages pests and odours.

I use two composters:  one right next to my back door and one further from the house . 

I use the one closest to the house is mostly in winter.  Trudging through snow that’s two feet deep to cross the yard to get to a backyard composter in January was a drag (…lazy).  I can empty fruit and vegetable waste into the composter without even changing out of my slippers (…lazy).  In the late spring, I usually cover it with a lot of ground or compost from the other composter.  

Then, when it’s nice out, I switch the routine:  I mostly use the composter that’s farther away from the house.  After a while, I layer material from the composter close to the house onto the second composter.

And for fruit and vegetable waste destined to the backyard composter, I don’t use a special container or kitchen catcher.  I just grab any sort of bowl that’s in the sink and empty it every day, then toss the bowl into the dishwasher–that way there’s no gross container to clean.  (Yeah, there’s that lazy thing again.) 

If you read up on backyard composters, they say that you should keep the contents of your composter about as damp as a wrung out sponge.  Right.  I’m not taking out the hose to water my garbage (…lazy).  I make sure it’s covered with a good layer of ground or older compost and leave the lid off the composter if rain is in the forcast.  Otherwise, I leave the cover on if we’ve been getting a lot of sun.

I put a lot of stuff into it, but I don’t get as much compost out of my backyard composter.  But it’s that much less stuff to drag to the curb…lazy!

How does backyard composting work for you?

the green bin: next generation composting

Is composting a new old thing or an old new thing?

A great-great aunt of mine, who was something of an expert in home economics, reportedly said that throwing food scraps into the garbage is the craziest thing city folk do:  it’s a waste.  So says my octogenarian grandma who never stopped composting when she moved into the city.  Compost feeds her garden, and you should see the flowers, fruits and vegetables she grows.

For most of us though, recycling compostable material is some new wave thing.

I’ve been lucky to have had decades to warm up to the municipal Green Bin program. 

When I was a kid, we had a big garden and a compost bin of some sort that we used in the summer.  I got used to the idea of putting fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings into a separate container (with no lid…let’s not get too fancy, here) and then emptying it in the back yard.

It was an easy way to recycle, but it had its limitations.  Certain food wastes like meat scraps and bones can attract pests in a regular back yard composter, so we didn’t compost that stuff.

When I heard about the City of Ottawa’s Green Bin program, which was still in its pilot phase, I thought it would be great because it enables us to recycle a lot more than the shorter list of things that can go in the backyard composter.

Composting, like breastfeeding, was old is but is new again.  We have this opportunity to turn waste into a resource.  Today, Orgaworld, the company that processes the Green Bin contents, sells its product–compost–to farms.  I think my great-great aunt would have approved.

Now the question is, how do you make it convenient to get the material to the green bin week after week?