Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Those Stinky Kitchen Scraps

I remember it well...my grandma kept a plastic gallon-sized recycled ice cream tub (the round kind with the plastic top) nearby in her kitchen for collecting leftovers and scraps for her compost pile. I was unaware what happened to the contents once they left the kitchen, since I was not a big enthusiast of garden labor in the roasting Mississippi summers and preferred tromping around through the woods "exploring." I'm thankful for the luxury of that time she gave us to do just that...which is probably one reason all things have come full circle and now I'm the one wanting to put in the garden.

That was one stinky ice cream tub, though...whew!!! In went peels and discarded veggie tips and leftover morning oatmeal and onion skins. It wasn't emptied until it was full. Closed and sealed, you got only a whiff of the rotting contents, but opening it to add more and WHOA NELLY...disgusting! Ah, memories!!

We've tried various containers for our kitchen scraps. If this is any commentary on modern consumption, our scraps overflow anything we use to collect them. I tried the ice cream tub thing. It just fills too quickly, and we don't have a compost pile yet, since we've been burying the scraps in the meantime. J is just too afraid of luring snakes to an open compost pile, and we have little or no green material here to add to it, and no time to go deliberately hunt any down. We're not mowing a lot right now in the winter, though the grass is still green...it just grows slower right now. But we need the clippings to be thrown back by the lawnmower into the lawn to keep it from burning later in the intense heat.

Oh for a place that does not require a lawn or "curb appeal"! I'll ALWAYS want curb appeal, but NOT the suburban sort. I think lawns are a silly invention, and certainly NOT a requirement for beautification. But American society has its conventions, unfortunately, however idiotic some of them have become. I'm all for disking is all under and putting in gardens right up to the roadside, or maybe a mass of flowers like cosmos, with mown paths. I suppose folks think they need time, and they want little upkeep, which is the tradeoff in our commuter lifestyle.

That's why we want to move further out...away. But I digress.

We got a nifty magazine in the mail today that features organic products and gardening items. They had the neatest kitchen pail with a charcoal filter top, and it looks fairly good sized, like a tall medium-sized kitchen garbage can. It claims to be Stink Free. It looks big enough to handle all the red onion peels we'd want to throw its way. But the better news was the selection of vermicomposting kits this magazine offered. Yes, I'm certainly a babe-in-the-hay beginner! I had no idea you could plop that kitchen waste into one of those worm houses, let them do their thing (I'm sure it comes with instructions and is a little lengthier process), and voila! Wormy composted goodness!!

(Laughing!! Oh the things we begin to cherish...)

I want one!!

That's on the wish list. For now I'll be trying to seal the top of the plastic tub before the reek of yesterday's leftovers hits me in a Wave of Stink...

;-)

7 comments:

Mylene Courtade said...

You have a great blog going! I really enjoy your writings-partly because I can relate so well to "starting" at 40-something! I am right there with you! Re: kitchen scraps, I use a coffee can & keep it in the fridge (it is very sad how much we waste:-(. When you get critters, you will have lots less because chickens, rabbits, pigs, cats & dogs will all eat most kitchen scraps. My friend uses an old 5 Gl paint bucket & puts a scoop of dirt on top each time he adds scraps & it really doesn't smell, but those lids are kind of a pain. Keep experimenting, you have a good imagination, you'll find 1 that works for you. Re: materials for your raised beds (the only way to garden:-) around here, many businesses have stacks of old wooden shipping pallets, free for the taking. They are usually 4'x4', easy to take apart & rebuild. They also work great for a compost bin. Good Luck with all you do! I wish you much success and hope you have fun learning!

Shirat said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Mylene! We may never get acreage, but we're narrowing down our focus and I know the outcome will be a fun journey...it's already been eye-opening just in the research alone. I peeked at your sites and loved the heartrockgarden one...I'll be perusing them as time allows...SO interesting, and it's a shot in the arm knowing there are others out there doing this as well! Thanks for the tip about the pallets. I haven't found a free source for those around here yet, but I'll be looking! Thanks again for the comment and feel free to contribute any time :)

Shirat said...

Oh, and P.S....I see you mentioned the Dervaes family on your site. I ran across their site a few months back and LOVE returning there for inspiration! There are many others out there using what they have without owning much acreage. There was recently a family from Sarasota, FL featured in a homesteading-friendly magazine who were also doing something similar on their suburban neighborhood property...raising everything they eat, at least as far as vegetables. They're not spring chickens, either, but that lifestyle has kept them really healthy and very content :) Hooray for the urban pioneers!

PALocalvore said...

You might enjoy a book called "Worms eat my garbage"- it's a pretty good discussion of vermicomposting. I keep thinking I want to try it, but my first attempt ended badly for the worms...
But I do have to say, after 10 years of good composting, I have GREAT garden soil. And I am still dreaming of the homesteading at age 50!
Willa
http://palocalvore.blogspot.com

Shirat said...

Thank you for your insights, Willa! Is there some advice you'd give from your first experiences in vermicomposting? Anything you'd recommend or not do again? I'm concerned about ants...we get whole sand castles of fire ants here, and I've wondered if they infest compost or vermiculture bins. I peeked at your website and really enjoyed it! thanks for the comments :)

PALocalvore said...

Thanks for the kind words about my website. It's been a few years since I did the vermicomposting thing, so the details aren't clear any more. I purchased a large-ish plastic bin, like one you would store stuff in under the bed- (not transparent, though. We drilled holes in the bottom, and put it in the garage. I bought Red Wigglers (am I dating myself if I sing "The Cadillac of Worms?") at the local bait store. I think my worst error, though, was using the bedding from the house rabbit- pine shavings and rabbit urine. Because rabbit droppings are the only fertilizer that can be added to plants without composting, I thought the urine would be as benign. We discovered, though that rabbit urine is alledgedly one of the most caustic substances known to man. I think I poisoned the worms to death. There may have also been temperature issues- the box was in the garage and it may have gotten too hot for them. I would like to try again, but I hate to have the blood of all of those worms on my hands...

We used cinderblocks for our raised beds, and I liked them a lot. We even planted in the holes of the cinder blocks. This past year, we took the cinderblocks away. Maybe I will use them to line a hole and put a buried worm bed in the yard.

We do the compost in a cheap plastic mixing bowl with a snap on lid. My only complaint is that when I have some yucky vegetable remains in one and try to put them in the compost bowl, the lid won't open with one hand. When I have both hands available, the lid just pops off.

Willa

Robbyn said...

Keep us posted about the progress if you decide to do the buried worm bed. You're head-and-shoulders above me in that respect...though it didn't work for you the first time, I haven't tried it at all yet.

I remember my grandmother used to have a raised bed surrounded by cinderblocks, and she planted thrift in the spaces of the blocks. After a while, it was a mound of green and pink. I've never tried that down here because I'm afraid that during weeding, I'll be sticking my hand down in a snake's hiding place (ewww). We're in Florida, where there are as many snakes as weeds...

:)