composting [part 1]

i started a compost today. yep! i don't know about you, but sometimes i think i know how to do something - or that i've even done it - when really that's not the case. like composting. sure, i've kept my kitchen scraps in a container to use for composting, and maybe once or twice dumped them on the compost pile. but, no, i've not really composted - i just provided my broccoli stems, egg shells, and apple cores for molly to compost when we lived together.

the idea of composting just feels right: a little alchemy to transform kitchen and yard waste into nourishment for a garden, which will hopefully complete the circle by feeding us. fortunately, it wasn't too hard to turn my ideas into a new project.

so, to start, i read and re-read the composting chapter in my "garden anywhere" book and did a little online searching; scrounged our yard for materials to make a "box" [definitely using that word loosely]; called molly to consult; and began. the toughest part was deciding on a spot, so i chose one that would get partial sun and is close to the edge of our yard. [funny little side story here- right behind that spot is a train track, about 40-50 feet from our house. our landlord mentioned trains go by about 2-3 times a week. i'm thinking she meant per day - as i write, the third one in just a few hours is passing by. adds character to living in the country, i say]. but, i figured that out and found some wood and bricks lying around to form my box... and the rest, well, here it is:

here's what i learned: first, seek to have your compost mimic the forest floor and it's variety of plant matter. also, the bacteria that make a healthy compost need carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. for carbon think brown [dead leaves, sticks, woodchips, cardboard, news print]; for nitrogen think green [grass clippings, kitchen scraps, weeds]. meat, dairy, citrus, oils = no good. and the ratio of carbon : nitrogen is important. 3:1 is probably good. not too wet, not too dry, mix it up every so often [my book recommends once every 1 to 6 weeks, in other words, nature affords a whole lot of grace here].

and, we'll see. i'll do my part and hopefully nature will bring sunlight and worms and bacteria to transform trash into nutrient-rich compost. if nothing else, it's a learning adventure and a chance to get more dirt under my fingernails.

katie anne

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