How I Compost: Jane

Next up in the series "How I Compost," one of my favorite bloggers Jane has kindly agreed to share how she and her family approach composting in their backyard, with an eye toward keeping the process as simple and low-fuss as they can. Here's Jane:

When I began to focus on zero-waste and also to care about where our food came from, we became interested in composting as well.  

Of course there are a few different ways to compost. Worm composting speeds the process, specially made bins keep the process contained, and simple burying of compost works too (I didn't know this, but my mom has been burying compost in her yard for years). Some areas have curbside compost pick-up and many areas have some place that compost can be brought... like the farmer's market or a nearby farm.

We are blessed to live in a house with a yard... and we want that black gold for our own use.  Mr. Tribe built our compost bin of discarded pallets and wire (pretty much like this, but ours has two sections). This was a simple method and almost free. We add compost to one section until we decide to let that pile sit and really finish turning to dirt... at which point we start to use the other side. We also have a big round of chicken wire next to the compost that we put raked leaves and spent garden plants into (no weeds)... these are the "browns", which I'll get to shortly.

Strangely, the only item left behind by the previous owners of our house was a round plastic lidded tub with 2 ventilation valves that can open and close. Maybe someone will tell me what its real purpose is, but I thought it would make the perfect vessel for compost collection. It sits next to our sink (something my mom has commented on, "I've never seen compost sitting on the counter"). I'm not sure that is the most lovely spot for it, but it does encourage use. And I would have never known that my mom composts, if it hadn't been sitting there.  :)  that makes me think that it might be well-positioned for starting conversations. ;) A lot of people say that compost does not smell. Ours does (not outside, but inside)... especially cantaloupe rinds and banana peels (disgusting)... but as long as the lid stays on, its not a problem at all.    

The process of composting is quite simple. We only add non-meat items to our compost (that means no bones or dog poo either). I don't add cooked food waste (not that there ever is any), because we don't want to attract critters. (I save any unwanted compost items separately and bring them to the compost bin at whole foods. We also did that on vacation). We compost hair, dryer lint (because we only dry cotton in the dryer), food-soiled paper, peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, dead flowers, pits, seeds, finger nails, bits of yarn or twine, and a stray napkin or piece of toilet paper. Once the tub is full, it gets dumped onto the heap outside. a scoop of "browns" from the leaf round gets added... and a black plastic garbage bag that acts as a cover weighed down by rocks gets replaced. This black plastic concentrates the suns heat... which is a good thing, because heat speeds decomposition. A periodic shovel "stir" happens too.

When that black gold is ready, it gets added to our garden beds and grows the best vegetables!  It amazes me every time to think about how that organic waste nourishes new life.

Jane originally posted a full version of this post (as well as the photograph above) on her blog - you can read more here. Thanks so much for letting share a piece of your story, Jane!

PS - If you compost, I'd love to feature you for this series. Just send me a note if you're interested!