Composting

Another perk of Florida is that composting is really easy!  Although I am not a huge fan of this warm, moist, insect-filled state, all of those properties combine to make composting a no-brainer.  No incubating or turning is realy necessary because it breaks down so fast.  You can basically chuck all your kitchen scraps in a box/pile, add some newspaper, cardboard egg cartons, and shredded paper, and call it good.

At least, that is what we do!  If we really wanted to be able to use this compost sooner, then we would have to take better care of it.  But since we don’t really care about that, we pretty much just do as I described above.  Now through February is prime time for the live oak leaves to fall, so I plan on gathering a couple bags of those up and adding them to the compost.  Because there is so much rain and the soils are alkaline to begin with, I am always conscious of adding as much “brown” material as I can get my hands on, since that is acidic and carries minerals and compounds that are leached out of the soil so quickly.  The coffee grounds and tea bags I add also contribute to the acid content.

Steve built a box out of scrap lumber and we have it in the corner of our yard.  It has 4 sides but no top and no bottom.  The compost has to rest directly on the ground so that the worms come and start munching thing up.  It doesn’t have a top because Steve didn’t want to build it one; plus this way it stays moist. 

We haven’t filled it up yet because it keeps compressing and decomposing as we keep adding to it.  When we do eventually fill this box up, we will start burying the compost in the area where we want to develop our next flower bed, so that the compost is already where it needs to be.

We have a lot of kitchen scraps.  When you eat two pieces of fruit, 2 carrots, cook vegetarian, and make a salad, all in a single day, almost every day, you generate a lot of compost!  My mom and mother-in-law use old coffee containers, but that wasn’t going to be big enough for us.  When we first moved here I went to Target and bought a cheap stainless steel 6 quart aluminum stock pot with a lid.  I can usually get 2 days’ worth of food in that, and that is as much as I would want to, because it starts to smell a bit after that.  🙂  I just leave it right next the sink and big cutting board where I do all of my vegetable chopping.

I put everything but animal products and fat into my compost.  Bread, flour, rice, beans, tofu, fruit and vegetable peelings and cores–all of that goes in there.  I do add eggshells, but no cheese or actual egg.  Sometimes we add in plant parts that we have pruned around the house.  When we were digging out the sod for landscaping, I added some dirt from the yard to the compost to encourage more worms to come, and discourage a few of the worst pests.  We do sometimes see evidence that racoons have raided the compost pile in search of carrots and apples.

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