Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't Throw it All Away

Granny here. Talking about Compost. And what does the late Andy Gibb (BeeGees baby brother) have to do with it?

Except for my title being one of his hit songs . . . nothing. But stick around for my survey below.
I compost. I sort my trash. I recycle. I have this little competition with myself to see how little I can throw away. I drive my trash to the landfill because I’m too cheap to pay for pickup. And when you’re cheap AND obsessive about compost like I am, you don’t make many trips. Besides it’s very depressing at the landfill. This is a mountain of trash from other states that can be seen at least fifteen miles away. Maybe it’s some of your garbage. Because, frankly, you probably just throw stuff in the bag and forget about where it goes and how it piles up. Yup. I 'm trash talkin' you.

If you eat vegetables and fruit, use paper, drink coffee or tea You Could Be Dancing. YEAH. Oops, I guess I’ve got the BeeGees on the brain. You Could be Composting. Look it up online or call your Cooperative Extension office. There are classy little bins you can buy if you can’t have an open bin. You can vermipost in your garage in secret, for crying out loud. Just think about it and stop throwing things out that would make great organic matter in your gardens or potted plants.

Reduce what goes to the landfill, please. Okay?

To compost you add GREENS (grass clippings, weeds, veggie peels, things that are fresh, not dried out yet). As you can see I made cabbage soup this week, drank green tea and had a pumpkin muffin.
And BROWNS (dry leaves, shredded paper, egg shells, paper towels, you know—stuff that’s not wet).

Keep moist. You want it to be damp, but not wet. This will depend on how much greens vs. browns you have. Layer it, mix it, or just let it sit and rot. Sprinkle in some soil once in awhile to add microorganisms. Don't add fats, meats, diseased plants, or the stuff Fido leaves in the yard.
I use two big plastic barrels from the local grape/wine industry. Drilled some holes in all over for air circulation and I let them sit. No stirring or turning. I fill one barrel a year while the other sits, then empty one and start filling the other. The stuff that comes out each fall looks like coffee grounds with broken egg shells in it.

This post is about more than making ‘black gold’ out of what I collect in my kitchen. When I say you can take stuff that would normally be thrown out and turn it into something good, I can only think how that applies to our lives, too. Sometimes the things we do stink. Our actions are rotten. Our concern for others are so far removed from our supreme concern for ourselves that we worry when we hear the garbage truck coming. "Am I too late for the garbage?" "No, lady, jump in!"
But we have the God of the Universe on our side. The one who takes trash and turns it into gold.
Leave a message with your email address for a little Earth Friendly gifty from me to you. I promise to pick a name and then compost the rest of the little paper slips! Try out the cool little poll below. We'll find a place to show the results next week. Thanks!


  1. Hey Deb. We used to do the barrel thing when we lived in Ontario but we now have a humongous compost pile out here on the farm. Most of the kitchen scraps that would normally go on the pile now get thrown to the chickens. Except for the egg shells. We crush those and scatter them in the garden.

    I love finding worms in my garden because it shows my soil is healthy.

    Good post, Deb.

  2. Do your chickens wear leg warmers this time of year Anita?

    Sounds like your garden looks like mine. Beautiful dark soil with broken egg shells all over it. Obvious this is not an aesthetic choice.

    I'm still amazed at the number of places that don't have recycling. NY just added the deposit on water bottles. Finally!!! I'd just like everyone to think about what they put in their trash, that could be composted or recycled.

    How can any of us reduce our impact on the water, air and soil? This isn't about what may happen to the earth in 20-100-1000 years. This is about NOW. We are just way too reliant on replacing things rather than taking care of them. Things are made cheaper, tossed and then we buy more. Where did it all go so wrong?

  3. Loved this post Granny! Very funny and nice spiritual connect at the end.

    Sadly, we don't have much incentive to recycle in our area because they pick it up, but don't really do anything with it from all accounts.

    One thing you may find funny, though. In our city we have a park called Mt. Trashmore. They took one of those mountains of garbage and covered it with dirt and made a park. It's a huge hit because our area is so flat. People go there to fly kites, or even just run and roll down the hill. It used to be popular for sled riding on the rare occasion we had snow, but I think they outlawed that because too many people got hurt.

    So anyway, I guess Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach is its own sort of recycling. I heae there are plans in the works for a Mt. Trashmore II.

  4. Too stinky and a lot of work. I'll buy sterilized manure--that from a farm girl! We do laugh about buying manure!

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  5. Oh Granny, Granny,
    You make me feel like . . . :)
    I feel like I do well to get all those plastic bottles in the recycling bins. But at least I'm well trained to do that. When my mom lived in Pa. they had no recycling at her apt. complex and I felt so bad seeing everything go in the garbage.
    Now my neighbors are raising their own chickens who come to visit us and our dogs play with them.

    Thanks for the good advice, Granny. Give me one easy step I can take to make a difference, otherwise I get overwhelmed. In fact give us a list of easy things and maybe we can work on changing our bad habits. Love ya Granny. Don't slip on that banana peel.

  6. LOVE IT! We started in May and then used EVERY SCRAP bit of food to fertilize our FIRST ORGANIC GARDEN!!!!

    Folks, all of our food trash fit into one plastic storage bin, drilled with holes by Hubby! It was the most rich brown/black slush you've ever seen and weighed A TON!!!

    Oh, you see the whole life process unfolding right before your...nose.


  7. We keep a bucket with a lid near the door to put all our composting stuff in (egg shells, veggies, etc.), then when it's full, take it out to the garden where we mix it with soil in a big container, then when it's ready, it gets added to the garden dirt.

    Straight From Hel

  8. Hey, Gran! A great green post. I do believe in reusing and recycling for my economy and the world's ecology. I try to get at least one more use out of many items before they are discarded. My favorite tip: Save the heavy inner plastic bags from cereal, biscuit mix, cake mix & etc. Straighten them out into sheets and shake off any cereal crumbs or powder from the mix. Fold the sheets and store them in a large ziploc bag. When you need to roll out any type of dough, use one of the saved plastic sheets instead of waxed paper.

    I also now use my old newspapers in the cat litter box instead of buying expensive cat litter. I have asthma, and I had to buy better quality "no dust" litter. Now I just recycle the newspapers a different way. No muss, no fuss, no dust : )

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  9. Hey.

    Linda, and you a farm girl??? Actually my compost doesn't stink much at all. I will say it gets full of fruit flies in the summer but by the time I get around to using the actual compost, it is fragrance and fly-free. Adding the right mix of shredded paper and a shovel full of soil really makes a difference.
    Now my garbage is another matter. Heavy little bags of wet cat litter! Perhaps I could recycle the AMMONIA!!!

    Jill, I'll have to see what I can fix you up with. Do you use recyclable grocery bags instead of plastic or paper? Skip bottled water for filtered tap in a reusable water bottle?

    I love Virginia's re use of the wax liners of the cereal box. Hurray! A new way to save! (I also recommend the old fashioned sandwich or snack containers rather than using all those little bags for lunches. OR you can buy small wax sandwich bags. They're practically RETRO!

    Helen, thanks for visiting and speaking up. Are you in a mild climate? Cause our soil freezes up for part of the year.
    Did any of you try out my little compost survey link?

  10. Granny, you're a straight shooter so I'm gonna shoot straight with ya.

    1. I've considered starting a compost heap because I think it'd be something different to do becuase I do want to start a garden next year. Major drawback, though, is the smell. In our backyard is a tampoline that the neighborhoods and our use. With kids around, ya gotta hope for the best but assume the worst.

    2. Sadly, I doubt I can had a garden in my backyard because of our homeowners association's code. I still plan on discussing it with hubby and trying to make it work...without without a compost heap.

    4. I am the proud owner of three green Henrico county recycle bins and could really use another one....or two because they're always overflowing by pick-up day. Yet while I do recycle (if I didn't, we'd have to have a second trash can), the grim reality is recycling isn't a profitable industry. So if our county charged me a fee to collect my recyclables,, I wouldn't recycle. Why?

    5. While recycling is the politically correct thing to do, a better use of time, energy, and funs is to reduce and reuse. Everytime I toss a spaghetti sauce can and lid in my recycle bin, I wonder why I can't use it with canning. Shoot, why don't I even know how to can foods? I watched Mom do it. I know she still does it. Canning is a lost art.

    6. Paper, plastic, recycle bags? I use them all and don't feel guilty. The key is reusing, and finding more ways to reuse, like Virginia does with her old newspapers or the compost heaps mention. What's important is finding a way to reduce/reuse/recycle that works for you and your family and is FUN.

    7. Quit living with guilt for throwing an aluminum can in the trash. As Carrie Underwood sang so beautifully on Monday night, this is our temporary home. Yes we ought to be good stewards, but considering Jesus has a thousand-year reign here on Earth1, I'm fairly confident mankind isn't going to decimate it with carbon emissions.

    Eventually there will be a "new heaven and a new earth." I'm going with the idea the the creator of the first heaven and earth is going to make the 2.0 editions. Does that mean I think compost heaps and recycling or eating organic veggies is stupid? Absolutely not.

    8. How we live should give us opportunity to connect with others, especially others who aren't Believers. We ought to know the culture where we live and find ways to relate to them without compromising our faithfulness to Christ. Find ways to build a relationship bridge by having something in common. And if a compost heap is it, then do it!

    9. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to the Father.

    Great post, Granny! Now I'm off to vote in your poll...if I can unthaw my fingers. If only it didn't save money to not heat up the house to 72 in the winder.

  11. I know you didn't just call yourself granny! LOL

    Sadly, I don't know how to do any of this and I'm not sure I have the motivation. Old food gets thrown in the woods, sometimes. I have a garden but it died on me. Heh.
    This is a great post! I'd like to be more environmentally responsible.
    Question: Wouldn't food and perishables compost just as well at the dump, and even aid rotting? (I know nothing about it, so just curious)

  12. Hi Jessica and Gina!

    STuff rots at the landfill but there it sits, not doing any good to the soil. (Like bagging leaves and taking them to the landfill) Plus, it's rotting alongside stuff that's bad for the environment. Our landfill is high tech and despite all the work they do to protect us, leachate gets out into the water table.

    Obviously everyone can't compost, but if more of us did, there's be a lot less trash. I don't recycle things till I've got all the use out of them that I can, either.

    My one concern with not taking care of the earth, (with the idea that it'll all go away eventually anyway) is that WHILE WE'RE HERE, we need to protect our health and livelihood. I'm going to get a new glorified body, but that's no reason to treat the old one without care and respect. Our choices now affect people's health now.

    PS Gina, you could in essence can with jars but not with cans. I used to re use mayo and spaghetti jars alongside my Mason and Ball jars. Yes, some of us still can, as in can can. As in 'putting stuff by".

    I know that the rules in suburbia tell you that you can't have a garden, or a compost pile (honestly ours never smells!) or hang out your laundry in the fresh air. (Or fly your American flag, etc).

    Some of us who grew up with parents who grew up during the depression, had this "make do" or go without mentality drilled into us! Now I find it's a big money saver, too.

  13. One more Earth Friendly comment. Here's to those who are out to save the planet but can't be decent to the person next door --

    I use cloth bags and the like when I shop. I often don't have any plastic bags left at home for 'litter box duty'. One time I went into a grocery store and took the plastic bags just for that reason. A woman (I don't want to sound snippy, but she was dressed a lot nicer than I was, cos I'm sort of down home, not uptown) gave me a dirty look and then glanced at her fabric grocery bag. I wanted to tell her "Wait, no, really, I don't use plastic! Don't judge me!" Then I laughed at myself.

    Let's just do the best we can, think about how our actions and word affect those around us AND the things that God gave us stewardship over!

    The best way to grow healthy food is with healthy soil. The best way to have healthy soil is to add organic matter back in. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! You know how they say that we get our vitamins from the plants we eat? Well guess how the plants get them.

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  15. For gardeners: Recycle those knee-hi hose and pantyhose that are ruined by runs. Instead of throwing them out, use them to "tie-up" your tomato plants and other plants in the garden.

    Save the seeds from your favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables for starter plants. They won't all grow, but it's a worthwhile experiment. Make sure the seeds are thoroughly dry before you store them. Plastic containers may hold in moisture. Label each container so you'll know exactly what you have saved : )

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  16. Hey, Granny, great (com) post! I am a great recycler of all things paper, plastic, glass and the like and I do use the cloth bags everywhere I go. I don't however go the composting route mainly because most of our garden is rock. We had to convert because of the drought. (now, that spelling doesn't look correct - it's supposed to mean lack of water! :-))

    I love walking through our parks after Christmas because they shred all the christmas trees and scatter the compost around the trees in the park. The smell is delicious.

    I'll pick one new thing this year and try to do better. I know we're all God's stewards of this beautiful earth!

    I even use recycleable doggy poop bags on our walks! Yea!

  17. Hey, Granny! I live in the same town with that war veteren who battled to fly his flag. Even though he won the first fight, the home owners association has decided to "lay low" until all the hooplah has passed. Uggh. Makes me want to stick a flag pole in my own yard, although I doubt my homeowners association would freak out.

    Great comparasion of taking care of the earth and taking care of our bodies. I'm with you there. My tooshy wishes I was more with you.

    Your story with the lady in teh grocery store reminds me of my encounter with the Prius owner who gave me a snide look when I parked my Surburban next to her. Yet she was piling plastic grocery sacks into her trunk while I was toting my reusable bags.

    Which takes me to the point I should have emphasized. Those on both sides of the environmental issue can fall into a judgmental attitude to those on opposing sides. (Not that I'm putting you or any inkies in this category.)


    If I do get around to starting my garden in the spring and convince the family a compost heap would be a fun experiment, I'll find you for some gardening advice.

    And after my mom helps me make some reusable sandwich wraps and snack baggies, I'll take a pic and show you. The kids aren't excited about using them because they like blowing up the zippy bags, but I'm excited about not buying a box of zippy bags every two weeks.

  18. Hi Granny,

    Thanks for the extra insight into composting. I do compost, but am on a fall hiatus because of a fruit fly infestation that has thankfully ended. You post reminded me to get back to composting kitchen waste.

    One cool thing to cut down on smell are the new compost bags. I fill a bag under my kitchen sink and then drop the whole bag into my compost bin outside my back door.

    When we landscaped the next-door-neighbour's father warned we wouldn't want the flies or smell near the door, but it honestly does not smell! It is right next to our patio and we entertain there and never notice the compost.

  19. Thanks, Granny!. Oh wow, I love all of these tips. I got out my notebook! Loved Virginia's tip re: the cereal bags, too. Creative and handy.

    Even if you can't make a compost heap, there are some things you can do with food waste. I throw banana peels under my rosebushes, because aphids don't like them. If you plant tomatoes, put an eggshell in the ground first, as tomatoes like the calcium from it. Tea leaves, all have said it already.

    Now, I know we're not a gardening blog, but if anyone knows of a good organic solution for catepillars on my peach tree... It's actually a fruit salad tree, so there are plums and apricots grafted into a peach tree. But the catepillars decimate the peach leaves. Nothing I've tried works, and it's a young tree, just planted in the spring. Any ideas?

  20. Well, Granny is breathing a big sigh of relief because after having to replace my computer this week, I just got my internet connection back up. Imagine being home for the whole weekend WITHOUT INTERNET!!! Yikes.

    Gina, I can understand the Suburban. I drive a truck. We do what we can. I need the 'bed' part, you need the 'seats'. Now if you said you drove a HUMMER, I'd ask. How do you park the darn thing?

    I have a lot of options living out in the middle of nowhere. But public transportation is not one of them, so despite all my attempts, my CARBON FOOTPRINT is large. I drive 17 miles to work, alone, rather than carpool. Tried to use the county bus system but it would have taken me 2.5 hrs of commute time. *thought it would be great time to read or write, but come on!

    Wenda, I'm so glad your compost doesn't smell either. YAY!!

    Connie, hurray for degradable doggy bags! If only there was a use for pet waste. I could go on about raising Goats but ya'll think I'm nuts already. (great garden fertilizer!)

    Virginia, I love your style, lady! only I have moved on in life to a place where I can't recall wearing nylons more than once a year if that! They make for some strange sand bags too!! Now picture that 'recycling' of panty hose!!!

  21. Hi Granny,

    Enjoyed your post today...I actually learned alot. I don't know anyone who 'composts' in my your suggestions.

    I faithfully recycle newpapers, cans, bottles, etc. I don't use paper cups/plates/etc. I even have an 'old' Corelle coffee mug at work (the gold flower pattern).


  22. I really would like to try this. My garden could use the boost come spring. What about rate getting in? Is that a problem?

  23. Hi "T.Anne" and Karen. Glad you gals are doing what you can!

    I can't promise you won't have rodents with a compost pile. The bin is more of a barrier. I have a screen top on mine and I keep something heavy on it. In my case it would be raccoons, and it's only happened once. Rats are more urban so if you have rats around, sure, they might try it. This is one reason why suburban and urban composters used closed bins (many of which can be rotated easily and make compost quicker) You could even use an aluminum trash can. You'd need holes in it (sides and bottom). Lack of air circulation and too much water are the main causes of odor. Compost stays fluffier and has less odor when it has a good mix of dry stuff and gets air circulation.

    There are a lot of great sources of info online. Hope you have success!

    PS I wanted to say that my truck gets 26 MPH, so it's not a big gas hog anyway!


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