City dweller, country skills: composting

Compost

Good health is dependent upon a number of factors, one of which is good nutrition.  We city dwellers don’t always consider one particular requirement for quality food: good soil.  The nutrients in food, in fact, are dependent upon it.  

Growing some food at home can be done, even in the city.  Self reliance, independence….   Growing food in the city, further, can be done with nutrient-enriched soil that we “harvest” ourselves.  This involves composting our food scraps.  

I’ve learned that this composting – turning food waste into quality soil – can even be done indoors.  In small quantities, anway.  Without a mess or a noticeable odor!  

So what’s the scoop?

Start with a container large enough for a growing amount of dirt.  A couple of containers, preferably.  Even a modest container can be used for a small amount of composting.  Add a modest bit of “starter” dirt (left over from a plant that’s been re-potted, from the yard, purchased at the hardware store, etc.) and a bit of compost-starter to the bottom of the container.  Yes, I discovered that the gardening department at my local retailer sells compost starter material – it speeds up the process of getting organic matter to “heat up” and start turning into dirt within a dirt pile.   Then, start adding bits of food waste; cover the food waste with the dirt, mixing it in with the compost starter.  Keeping them covered cuts down on trace amounts of odor (mixing/stirring also helps!), allowing for some air as the dirt and organic matter needs air for the composting process.    I tried this and found I could make it work.  I’m using a couple different containers so that one container doesn’t get overwhelmed with too much food waste to compost all at once.  I alternate which containers get food waste on a rotating basis – up there with crop rotations in farming.  Further, this results in compost piles at different stages of composting (they each need to be “turned” – stirred – occasionally to support the decomposition process and to monitor when the composted material has become ready-to-use dirt).   In a few months, one has nutrient-enriched dirt for growing indoor plants.  Woo hoo!

composting

 

In future blog posts, I’ll continue sharing my experience about “city dweller learning and sharing country skills” topics such as working with fabric and sending a homemade comforter to the woman in Ireland who now owns the home my family owned until a century ago. If you appreciate my post about learning to make my own clothes, please read previous posts on other “city dweller, country skills” posts and check back for future posts about learning “country skills” in the city.  Also, you can check out homemade items you might like to purchase – patchwork comforters, homemade soap, candles, etc. – on my website here.