Eat - Dirt - Cheap!

Here in our corner of the world we are blessed with an abundance of green leafy trees that are the envy of  dry arid zones worldwide.

    The downside to this wondrous display of spring and summer foliage and fall color is the problem of what to do with the fallen remains of the leafy carcasses which cover the streets, sidewalks, lawns and gardens if left un-collected.  These wet, sticky lumps of slippery mess freeze in the winter and create all sorts of driving hazards and logistical (as well as political) nightmares for the public officials responsible for the elimination of debris.

    I feel sad for the people who complain about the cost of collection and the ones who sweep them to the curb and are surprised by how long it takes for someone else to dispose of their problem. These are probably the same people who stand in line to buy topsoil, soil conditioners and squash. As for myself, I gather mine on a tarp, drag them to a designated spot next to my garden area, mow them to smithereens, then  blow 'em into a pile with my mower .

  Then  comes the special ingredients, the contents of my red "biohazard bucket" where all my non-meat, non fat kitchen waste ends up. That's vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, refridgerater discards and anything else that's not paper, plastic, metal or bone. This special stew stays outside in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, near the trash and recycling bins for ease of use. I add water to mine so as to speed the decomposition time. Every so often I empty the smelly, sticky, colorful contents onto or into the pile, then cover over with other leaves or a shovel of dirt or two.

  In the past I have expended much energy making all sorts of bins, platforms, shelters lids etc. The easiest way is to let the pile sit on the ground, add grass and kitchen waste, water occasionally and wait for nature to work its wonders. You can speed up the process by adding worms, compost accelerator, soapy water, beer or fertilizer. Stirring it up with a shovel or rototiller every once in a while helps a lot too.

     Next year, this years pile will be a much smaller heap of dirt that you can use to fill in low spots in the yard, build up along your foundation or add to your flower garden. I had volunteer squash grow out of mine, that monster vine produced 10 beautiful fruit. ( I saved some seeds for next year too!) I have also had tomatoes spring up too. I do know that if my composting pile were working hotter, these seeds would not survive, However I am not at all  troubled by the un-expected appearance of free fruits and vegetables in my garden.

 Just think of all the waste managment dollars we would save if  more people took care of  THEIR leaf problem this way.  Not to mention the reinvigoration of local soil conditions. For me, composting is a way to clean up an unsightly mess out front, reduce plastic trash bag usage and enjoy yummy squash, DIRT CHEAP


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