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June 2023

November 2023

Recycle Nutrients and Compost the Easy Way

When you clean out your refrigerator, do you ever find old, wilted, mushy food you would not eat? Do you toss the old food into your garbage can? This thrown-out food, unfortunately, ends up in landfills, usually in plastic bags.

Throwing away old fruits and vegetables, scraps, or even rotten apples is an unfortunate waste of resources. Reclaim micronutrients through composting.

Food.compostRecycling unprocessed food, plant scraps, leaves, and grass clippings makes an easy-to-create compost.

Compost bins are available for purchase, and comprehensive "how to" information is available online. Bought or homemade composting bins are not the only option. In-ground composting is simple, easy, and costs nothing.

Thirty years ago, I planted my first successful garden. I went to my next-door neighbor for pointers. Her garden soil was rich, dark, and soft. My soil was grey and hard. I needed her help.

Expecting complicated advice that I would not follow, she showed me simplicity instead. She taught me how simple it was to have nutritious soil. I have followed her technique for the past thirty years whenever I had a plot of dirt. This process is simple, easy, and cost-free. The only equipment needed is a gallon glass jar with a tight-fitting lid - an old gallon pickle jar or something similar. Expensive, bulky compost bins are not necessary.

WHAT TO DO: I use a gallon, glass, pickle jar with a tight-fitting lid. I keep it convenient, on the floor near my pantry. I add scraps or pieces of unprocessed foods, such as potato skins, rotten apples or tomatoes, avocado peelings, rinsed eggshells, wilted greens, used coffee grounds, loose tea leaves, and other similar foods.

When the jar becomes full, I dig a hole in my garden or flowerbeds and empty its contents and old leaves or wood chips into the hole. I then fill it with the dirt I dug to make the hole. I put a large rock or three or four bricks on my newly filled compost hole to "mark the spot." I leave it like that for months before I move the rock and dig to check how it is composting. If you throw an avocado pit in the hole, it grows into a fledgling avocado tree that needs removing. It will not survive North Carolina winters. Either throw the avocado pit in your garbage or be willing to pull the fledging twig and toss it.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Do not compost meat, bones, or foods processed with preservatives and unwanted chemicals. Do not compost the entire rotten egg. Only compost the rinsed eggshells. I now crush, dry, and grind my eggshells into powder for my chickens. Most people do not have chickens but have dirt waiting to become fertile soil. Also, be careful if you have dogs that will dig up your composted scraps and eat rotten food. A large rock or two or three bricks placed over freshly buried compost helps keep critters out of your recycled nutrients.

This composting process requires nothing but a glass container with a tight-fitting lid or a container that will not absorb the smells, nor will it rust.

Try it. This easy composting method will cost nothing and is available year-round, even if a bit of snow needs moving. It recycles valuable nutrients for your future fruits and vegetables or your flowers.