I’ll never forget how amazed I was the first time I turned over a shovelful of my compost pile and saw that it had become dirt! What a miracle! All those banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, and veggies I had thrown on the ground had mysteriously turned into dirt. And not just any dirt—dirt that was moist and dark and smelled great; it was soil that any plant could thrive in.
Soil is simply organic material that has been broken down and transformed. The kind of soil your food grows in determines how healthy your food will be. Vegetables that grow in good soil provide more nutrients for your body. Animals that graze on plants that grew in nutrient-rich soil will become healthier meat some day. Soil is really the building block of our nutrition—of our health. Healthy soil makes for healthy people!
For all those reasons and many more, making your own compost is a great idea. Here’s the thing you should know about it: it is SO easy! It doesn’t have to be stinky; it doesn’t take up a lot of room. And, at my house, we have never known our compost pile to attract rodents. It is easy; you just need to know a few things about it before you begin.
- You don’t need to collect compost out in the open; get a gallon freezer bag and start collecting your compost scraps in it. Freezing compost first is actually really good for it. It starts breaking it down right away.
- This one is really important: As far as food items go, you can only compost RAW fruits and vegetables. Do not clean out your fridge and dump leftovers in your compost pile! That is a sure way to draw the rodents. You CAN compost: raw fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells/eggs, peanut shells, nuts and beans, and any plant or flower (e.g. after your cut flowers wilt or if you prune your indoor or outdoor plants).
- You can compost vines and stalks (e.g. after you prune or harvest your garden in the fall); however, if you can mulch those items first, it will greatly help your cause. Otherwise it will take so long for these hardier items to break down, that it will really be a nuisance.
- The items you compost from your house are known as “green” items. An effective, fast-acting compost pile will also require “brown” items. Brown items include straw, grass clippings, leaves, or any natural item that will help aerate the compost. Experts recommend alternating layers of brown and green items. They also recommend watering your compost pile and turning it regularly; we use a pitchfork to do this at my house.
- A fast-acting compost pile should be a minimum of three feet wide by three feet deep by three feet high.
- Final tip: using all of these tips will help you have a fast-acting, P.h. balanced compost pile. However, remember, if you throw veggie scraps on a pile of dirt, you will have compost in a few weeks! Compost happens naturally and is pretty hard to mess up.
I have been composting for three years now, and I will never go back. I positively cringe to throw away an apple core or a banana peel at someone’s house now. Those items are pure gold!