Updated: Jan 15, 2021
In the spring of 2020 I decided that I was going to start up a compost heap. I didn't know anything about composting. In fact I've tried many times when I was younger and it just didn't work out.
It really started out with me making vegetable juices. I would always be left back with some fibrous pulp after making my juices and I felt really bad about just throwing that into the garbage.
When the ground was still frosted over in February and March I decided that I was going to start cultivating a vegetable garden in my parents backyard.
I decided that I was going to start burying the pulp from my juicing process into the soil. My logic was that it had been already mechanically broken down to very small particles and that it would compost very quickly. I came to learn that this is actually called the direct burry method.
After doing a bit of research I learned that direct bury method is not idea if you plan on planting plants in that same patch of soil (which I was).
There has been a compost bin in the corner of my parents backyard for a very very long time. it really should have occurred to me sooner that I should use the actual compost bin and give composting another shot.
I started bringing my scraps from juicing and also other organic food scraps to the compost bin in my parents backyard. I still knew very little about composting and my initial research on composting seemed a bit complicated.
People were talking about ratios to nitrogen and carbon but I strongly urge people just to start composting and learn as you go along.
I am writing this from my one year of experience with a very successful compost heap.
The only real rules that I had was:
No fatty stuff.
People say that you need to balance greens and Browns. Carbons and nitrogen and you certainly do. but I think it's important not to get hung up on it. It does not have to be exact. All you have to do is start.
in the spring summer and fall we collected our food scraps in the kitchen in a little organic waste bin that would sit on the counter. When this been got filled we would then dump it into the compost bin outside.
After four or five trips to the bin over the course of one or two weeks. I would then gather a bunch of dried leaves or grass clippings and toss it in there.
I would give it a good churn with a hoe, shovel or one of these earth turing tools and then cover it back up and leave it.
Your compost heap needs to be of a certain size before it starts working properly. It needs to have enough mass to it before it starts heating up.
After a few weeks ( more like 2 months) my compost heap began to heat up. when I would turn the pile I would notice that there is steam coming out of it. Also if I held my hand close to the pile I could feel a noticeable warmth emanating from it.
For other people that are more diligent in their ratios of carbon and nitrogen they will probably get their heap to heat up more quickly than I did. Also my compost heap was started when the ground was still quite cold. It wasn't Frozen but it wasn't nice and soft and tender. I am in Toronto Canada so springtime doesn't necessarily mean good weather for us it's still quite cold. It takes the ground a lot longer to dethaw.
I save my kitchen scraps as well even though I live in a condo and I take it over to my parents backyard to be composted.My mom is excellent at composting as well. I give a lot of credit to her because she respects what I am doing. It is much easier for her to collect all of the organic waste including meats and dairies and such and just toss it in the green organic bin collected by the city. But she activity participated and contributes to it.
My sister and brother-in-law also live in the neighborhood and they also contribute to the compost bin.
I started off with just this idea to bury my scraps from my juicing into the ground and now this concept has spread into three different households contributing to this compost heap. It doesn't get more organic than that. Three households reducing their carbon footprint.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of composting is knowing that the things that would have gone to the landfill are now being used to feed a bunch of microorganisms and fungi. They are going to break this material down into nutritious organic nutrients to add back into the garden that will eventually grow vegetables that will nourish us.
It's a really beautiful circle. I think it's one way that we can reconnect with nature. And also get us closer to reconnecting with our food supply. I will write more on this later but you get my drift.
I also got to teach my nieces and nephews about composting and for me this was such a fulfilling aspect that I didn't consider. Even if they don't compost it's okay. They saw me composting and asked a bunch of questions and even participated with me. Somewhere down the line when they are older and if they start composting because they remember their Uncle doing it... I can't tell you how happy that would make me.
An upcoming articles I am going to be talking about why my prior ventures into composting have failed.
I will also right about paying attention to your compost. How to care for it and make minor adjustments so that you can get some beautiful nutrients back into your soil.
Also I'm going to talk about tips and tricks for composting in a Canadian winter.