Phoebe wants to know what I have in the container by my sink. Well, brace yourself. It’s probably one of the least aesthetically pleasing features of my kitchen, but I’m happy to tell you about it anyway. I’m assuming that you’re asking about this old pitcher with the blue lid that showed up in the background of the photo of Sophie with the chocolate-face, although I know it’s been in the background of a picture or two in the past.

It’s my compost container. Where I keep my vegetable scraps, egg shells, leftover non-animal-product food instead of throwing it in the trash. We used to put the coffee grounds in there, too until we recently got our permanent-filter machine which I guess is easier to dump in the trash can than in the pitcher. I haven’t asked Joe about it exactly, because I don’t want to rock the boat of his early-morning routine. I’m just thrilled to wake up to hot coffee already made in the morning. I’m a bit embarrassed to show my compost pitcher off looking quite so full and *nasty*, but this time of year when it is bitter cold outside, we sometimes go several days before it gets out to the bin in our backyard.

That’s the black thing next to the corner of our garage…

Sorry for the lame picture, but it’s freakin’ cold out, and I didn’t want to get all bundled up to step outside and snap a decent photo. I’m sure those of you who’ve been around for a while have noticed it in my summertime snapshots of the kids.

Anyway, it may seem kind of gross, but it’s not so bad really. It makes me feel kind of happy every time I put something in my bin instead of in the trash. I mean, we all know we’re sending the Earth straight to hothouse hell. We all wish we could do more to live green, right? Well, this is one tiny thing I do that’s pretty darn easy, but it saves the fuel of the trash trucks carrying it away, it saves space in the landfill, it reduces the number of plastic trash bags I use to line my kitchen garbage every year by at least a few.

I’m always amazed at how no matter how much vegetable matter I put into my compost bin, it always seems to settle down and turn into fine, rich dirt at the bottom. Some day we will build a raised-bed garden and then I will use my compost in there. (For now, I’m afraid to have a garden in my yard because the previous owner of our house supposedly dumped all kinds of nasty chemicals in the yard, and we are in an area of town with a history of potentially polluting industry. I need to either build a deep, raised bed or have expensive, non-standard soil testing done.)

Anyway, I was a little leery of composting before I bought the bin and started doing it. Joe was even more worried about the experiment. The bin at our last house didn’t work out too well because I made the mistake of putting sticks and raspberry canes in there, which didn’t decompose quickly enough. This time, it’s working out much better. It doesn’t smell bad or attract vermin because we don’t put meat products in there. It does usually hold quite the cloud of fruit flies during the summer, but at least they stay in there eating all our waste food instead of clouding around the yard.

I think that’s about all there is to tell. Except that I’d keep the thing hidden under my sink, and usually do put it away before guests come over, but there’s not really room for it under there, and it’s inconvenient to open up the child lock and dig it out every time I want to drop a carrot peel or egg shell in.

Thanks for asking, Phoebe! I’m sure you weren’t the only one wondering what that disgusting mess could be.

10 Responses to “Ewww…”

  1. Madame says:

    I am so impressed with your composting even in MN winters.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Fascinating! Good for you and thanks for sharing. I’ll be interested in hearing more about the yard and the nasty chemicals and your solutions. I’m curious to learn from you.

  3. Robyn says:

    We also have a compost bin and a container on the sink for the peelings etc. It is a great idea, I always felt bad when I put those sorts of food scraps in the rubbish bin. In our previous house, where there was not enough room for a compost bin, we had a worm farm which was even better as it did not have the fruit flies and could live inside the garage. Well done for doing your bit to help the planet Shelly.

  4. amelia says:

    we too, have a composting bin inside for all things vegetable. Our outside composter is buried under snow now so we just throw the stuff away from the house on top of the snow and it disappears!

    We live in the bush so we can do this without upsetting anyone!!

  5. Imladris says:

    You’ll probably find that your fly problem disperses if you can manage to turn the pile inside the bin during the warmer seasons. I had my husband make me a bin because those black ones are too tall for me to get a shovel in well. You can also separate food scraps with grass cuttings or leaf clutter which will compost nicely as well and help keep down the flies and smells.

    And not that its likely that you’ll do this in town, but urine helps decompose twigs, sticks and other larger yard detritus. :)

    If you’re doing vegetable gardens, they don’t need to be all that deep. Potatoes can be grown in a bucket. Tomatoes in a planter. 6″ is a good minimum for most veges although 8-12″ would be better. Digging off a couple inches where you want to put your raised bed, will help get rid of some of the surface stuff. Line it with a non-permable layer so the possible chemicals can’t leach up into your garden, add some gravel to level and build your frame.

  6. aimee noel says:

    Very inspiring! We have a very small yard, but have been tossing around the idea of some raised beds. I grew up in a household that composted, but it was always stinky. Maybe I’ll try my luck with it this year.

  7. silfert says:

    Ooh! Ooh! *waves hand enthusiastically* Wanna do an interview about composting for my itty-bitty local newspaper? It would be a great way to spread the word and garner near-complete obscurity… :)

  8. Phoebe says:

    Thanks for your response. I applaud your composting. Even better than keeping it out of the landfill is keeping it out of the water supply by avoiding the garbage disposal in the sink. What a positive thing to do and model for your children.

    I have to admit that composting hadn’t crossed my mind when I asked the question. I thought it might be filled with interesting snacks for your girls or even toys/art supplies since you are so creative with your children. I thought it looked colorful and pretty!

  9. Serial Mommy says:

    where did you get your big bin at? i keep telling jason that we need something like that for our gardens (yep, next year we’ll have 3, potato/garlic boxes, veggie/fruit in the ground, and the front/side of the house flower beds) and it would be GREAT to add to everything when we do all the tilling in the spring…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Where are you? We miss you and your cute kids.

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