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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Prudent Penny: Kitchen Compost

We haven't done a Prudent Penny post in a while. And this time I'm talkin' trash.

Have you ever tried composting? It is super easy to do and there is absolutely nothing better for your garden or potted plants than compost. Here's the link to when we built our mega-giant compost bins.

I looked for months for a small covered waste bin that I could tuck in a corner of my kitchen and toss my food scraps. I finally found one the perfect size, but not the perfect price. They wanted 30 bucks for that sucker.

I don't think so.

So I opted for a frugal and low-tech solution and used a large cottage cheese container. It's not pretty, but it works and I emptied it daily to my big compost bin outside.

...and After
But then my friend, Mel surprised me with a beautiful stainless steel bin for my birthday. 

I was so ecstatic I squeezed the breath out of her. :)  She could not have given me a better birthday present. I'm one of those people who loves practical gifts and this one sent me to the moon. (Mel knows me so well.) 

I don't know how she's going to top it this year. But Mel, if you're reading, I am really hankering for a few pounds of wiggly earthworms so I can start worm farming. 

Wormy x a hundred
I compost everything except oils and meats. Veggie peelings, eggshells, tea and coffee grounds all go into my little bin. The only thing I leave out is orange and lemon peels. The lemon peels I run through the garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh, but orange peels are frozen for when I need zest for my cranberry cookies.

Does anyone out there compost? Am I the only one who thinks earthworms and scrap bins are excellent gifts? I won't think less of you if compost bins don't turn you on. :wink:


Rosie Lane said...

I am very fond of my wormery. Little bastards make a break for it if I drop a teabag on the ground outside, though. They love tea leaves above all else. That might be why we bonded.

Maria Zannini said...

Rosie: I haven't raised worms since '86. I'm excited to try again. (It did not end well last time.)

Ref: Little bastards make a break for it if I drop a teabag on the ground outside, though.

Hardened criminals, eh? I'll keep that in mind.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I remember my mom having a small container on the counter where she put grounds and peelings and stuff. This was way after I moved out - I was probably married, even - so it wasn't something I grew up with, so it's not something I do.

Yeah, I don't cook and I don't garden. I'm strange that way.

Raelyn Barclay said...

Worm Farm :shudder: My father did that, though the li'l buggers were more for fishermen than gardening. They got into everything. We'd find them in the bathroom, our neighbor found them in her kitchen...

On the other hand, as kids they were fascinating to us :) We didn't mind turning the soil and blending the compost, though we left the manure to Dad, LOL

But you have land...lots of space between you and potential worm beds. In that situation, I'd have them again.

My composting goes in cycles. Sometimes I'm really good about it others, like right now, not so much. I love that you freeze peels for zest!! Why on earth haven't I been doing that?!

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Restaurants must LOVE you. LOL.

Raelyn: Freezing orange peels came to me when I had to go out in the middle of the night and buy a stupid orange for a little zest. Instead I bought a bag of oranges. As I ate the oranges, I froze the peels and now I just zest them when I need them.

Invention is the mother of having to drive 30 miles for a stupid orange. :)

Shirley Wells said...

When I was growing up, almost everything was composted. Which is probably why I don't bother. :) As for worm farming - ugh.

Marianne Arkins said...

I have composter bucket envy -- I've been DYING for a small one to keep indoors, but they're kind of expensive. *sigh*

RE: worms -- I've actually bought worms, twice, from The first time, the FedEx guy was pretty sure I'd lost my mind (of course a few days later, my praying matis babies came ... so I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm loopy). I've tried to figure out how to do a worm composting bin, but DH wouldn't deal with one indoors, and outdoors here wouldn't work because of the winters.

So I baby the ones in my garden instead. :-)

Angela Brown said...

Hmm...composting sounds...very "green living". But I don't do it. Haven't grown up enough to find the beauty in gardening, not just yet anyway.

And earthworms...uh, hmmm...nope on that point to. I saw how to make a cute little wormery (I think that's what they called it) with dirt, a 2 liter bottle and some earthworms. I may do that with my kiddo. She'll probably get a kick out of it.

Maria Zannini said...

Shirley: Poor wormies. They get no love. :)

Marianne: The last time I raised them it was in a shed. I honestly don't remember any odors. It just has a dirt smell (if that makes sense).

Ref: bins
Those composters are expensive. It's highway robbery. It costs less to buy a full sized metal garbage can.

Angela: I hadn't thought of doing it as a kid's science project. She could see them go through their life cycle and then you can dump them in a park--or bring them to me. LOL.

L.G.Smith said...

Technically, my neighborhood doesn't allow compost bins, but I've noticed my neighbor behind me has one going anyway. He also has the most fabulous garden in the summer, full of vegetables and flowers. I may have to start sneaking my scraps outside too. :)

Shelley Munro said...

We've had a compost bin for a long time, and everything Vegetable in origin goes into it. Last year hubby came home all excited after doing work at a kindy and announced he was making a warm farm. He actually dug some worms out of the bottom of our compost heap. Evidently they were the right sort of worms. They certainly looked big and fat and do their job in his worm farm.

Like you, we put lemon down the ate disposal - not that we use it often these days. I'm envious of your stainless pail. We use an old ice cream carton with a lid. Not ideal, but it does the job.

Can you share the cranberry cookie recipe one day? Cranberries have only been readily available here in recent years, and the combination of orange and cranberry is very enticing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria, i am reading... Worms as birthday gift? From me? I dont think so! But i'll entertain other suggestions. Mel

Scarlett said...

We've been composting for roughly ten years now. We live in a rural area, so no rules, other than my own.

I have two large plastic ice cream containers that sit underneath my kitchen sink. One in the back is for compost (tea and coffee grounds, egg shells, our hair from home cuts, the dog and cat's hair, broccoli stems, potato peels, etc.). One in the front is for all of our table scraps that we feed our chickens.

I've found the trick to lowering the odor, is to simply Empty Every Day! This is my youngest child's chore. I'm drill sergeant around here, so it comes as second nature for me to say, "I KNOW you already took care of that compost, right?"

I have one large area, framed on three sides by thin cedar posts, where we dump all of our compost from the kitchen... daily (wink), and where we add Bunny poo, Horse poo, Chicken poo, grass clippings, sometimes a small smattering of the bazillion of leaves that fall from our oak trees, ashes from our campfires and fireplace, and of course, our jack-o-lanterns each fall, which seed and grow several nice vines for more pumpkins the following year for us.

Composting has, most definitely, been the success of our vegetable garden every year (with exception, those years someone forgot to water while I was out of town).

LOVE composting!

Maria Zannini said...

LG: Oh, I hate those neighborhood organizations. I just can't abide someone telling me how to manage my house. I am secretly cheering your neighbor.

Shelly: My kitchen is upside down, but as soon as I find my recipe file, I will post it and send you a copy.

Maria Zannini said...

Mel! And after I caught that gecko for you. I couldn't hear for two days after you stopped screaming. :P

All right. I won't hold you to the worms. But I still love my composter and I love you too. Hope you and the baby are well. --Ed too. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Scarlett: Agh! I completely forget about hair. Back when I used to brush my long-haired Samoyeds I used to toss their hair into the compost bins. But I completely forgot about doing it now. I so rarely brush the rotties.

Thanks for reminding me. And thank you for sharing your ideas!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I do not compost, but I save used plastic containers and use them for storage.

And that has nothing to do with anything, does it?


Krista D. Ball said...

It's way too cold here for the composter worms to have outside, and we have way too much organic waste to have an indoor worm composter.

Right now, I have a big ol' pot with a lid on the stove in a compostable bag. We just toss everything in there and tie it off and put it out in the bins. (We use the bags because it's less messy outside...we have a lot of bird and squirrel and cat life and the bags make it harder for them w/o hurting them...Also, the bags help keep the compost warmer in the winter, so it breaks down better once it thaws.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: You still get brownie points for recycling. :)

Krista: That is so smart to use bags in colder climates. I imagine it's a good deal more trouble for you than where I live.

I bagged up some grass clippings once and it got left behind over the winter. One day I noticed the chickens going nuts by some tall grass. It was where I had forgotten the bag of clippings. It had turned into a mushy mess, but it was like candy to them. And it even had a name--silage.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I compost lawn stuff but not kitchen scraps.

Sarah Ahiers said...

yep! We do too! Though our outside bin probably has too much guinea pig waste and hay and not enough food stuff. Sigh.
But we also have an indoor little stainless steel one as well.
And i REALLY want to have a worm bin, especially for winter composting, but we don't reallly have the room for it.
Sigh. Some day...

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I used to have a compost bin, but now no I don't. Ugly damn worms. lol :)

Southpaw said...

It sounds odd to "raise worms". It reminds me of a neighbor who raised earthworms when I was a kid.

Hey, if it makes you happy, ...

Misha Gericke said...

We don't compost, but all our edible garbage goes to my uncle, who has pigs and earth worms. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: Even lawn clippings alone have given me great compost. I found that out accidentally when I left a pile sit. It was pure gold underneath--full of wormies. :)

Sarah: I'd love to hear your journey when you start worm farming. I read about one person who lived in Canada who raised a small bed of worms under her kitchen sink. She swears it gave off no odor.

Suzanne: Poor wormies. I can't believe so many people hate them. LOL.

Southpaw: Worms are good for the soil and great feed for chickens--of which I have many beaks to feed. :)

Misha: If only I could meet your uncle so we could trade pig stories.

Madeleine Maddocks said...

I'd love to compost but our garden just isn't suitable. In our next place i fully intend to. My friend has a wormery which I'm also intrigued about. I love that compost bucket. So stylish! We have a brown plastic container that we empty into a bigger one for the trash men to compost.

Mike Keyton said...

I keep intending to compost, but our local authority makes it easy not to. They compost for us large scale. It just involves each householder leaving out their food scraps in a small provided bin, which they collect every Tuesday. They collect a huge amount of food waste/compost

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: I wish I knew someone close who had a wormery. I'd like some ideas for containers and drainage. Guess I'll learn as I go.

Mike: At least your community composts. We live in an unincorporated area. We're lucky to get internet. :)

Lady Gwen said...

I have thought about composting, but I think it would just be too difficult where I live in the mountains. The bears would definitely smell it and come digging, and I'm pretty sure the deer would have a go at it too! Loved this post. I left a blog award for you over on my site:)