Composting isn’t a waste


photo courtesy of Wataru Ebihara

COMPOSTING — Table scraps …photo courtesy of Wataru Ebihara
COMPOSTING — Table scraps …
photo courtesy of Wataru Ebihara

Compost makes me think about life’s basics. Compost is decomposed (waste) plant matter. It’s in the dirt under our feet. We wouldn’t be alive, of course, if the soil couldn’t sustain us — to grow the food we eat.

Common sense may say that if one takes stuff out of the soil (for growing food), then one should put something back in. If nutrients in the soil (food plants need) are depleted, then we will not have healthy plants. And that means the food we (humans) eat may not have all the nutrients we need, either.

So going back to compost … it is what we put back into our soil. It’s overly simplistic, but if the compost also consists mostly of plants we took out of the soil, then the compost should have mostly what the plants need to grow, right? At least that’s how I make sense of it.

In our home, the vegetable and fruit scraps all go into our compost bin — banana and apple peels, broccoli stems, including eggshells (calcium).

The plants and leaves that I cleared from our yard and garden also get chopped up, and go into the compost.

Stuff like coffee grounds and tea bags can go in to the compost as well. Did you know that some Starbucks shops giveaway their coffee grounds — for composting — for free?

In our urban environment, we have a compost bin that looks like the one above. We purchased it from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. It’s made of plastic, about 2 feet by 2 feet in size, and has a sliding door at the bottom to remove the composted material. One could probably just make a compost pile, but a container helps to keep rodents and other creatures out. For people living in apartments, one can also create compost with a “worm bin.”

photo courtesy of Wataru Ebihara
Compost in progress. photo courtesy of Wataru Ebihara

I was curious, so I stuck my hand inside the compost pile to dig around. Yes, there’s biological decay going on. There are earthworms too, and the compost is actually quite “warm” inside.

For me, this shows me that there activity with billions of microbes working away on the compost. There’s more going on than we realize.

Eventually, this compost ends up back in our garden, and the plants seem to appreciate it by the way they grow.


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