Compost Heaven

What do I do with all my Kitchen Compost?

You're starting to live more green. You eat fresh, local produce.  You cook organic.  Maybe you join a CSA.

Suddenly you notice--you have a lot of kitchen compost.

I have been composting my kitchen waste for years.  I have  a LOT of kitchen scraps--for a small family, we eat many, many pounds of produce.  Composting it reduces our garbage by a huge percent; it reduces the waste that water treatment plants must process (some people put their food waste down the disposal); it provides for my garden and it is the right thing to do for the planet. 

But as a urban compost strategy, it has difficulties.

Two overflowing compost piles. The easiest way to compost kitchen waste is when you have the space, and privacy to throw the waste in a compost pile.

But in the city, the primarily "green" kitchen compost needs a special environment to keep from becoming a smelly pile of rotting garbage.

First, you need "brown" matter to mix it with.  Do you have that all year round?  Does your garden produce it?  Or do you need to buy straw, scavenge sawdust or leaves?

You need to have enough to bury the kitchen waste fully.  If it is exposed, flies, fruit flies and rodents are attracted.  I've had dogs and raccoons pick through my pile and leave it all over my yard.

Do you have a long winter?  I had a pile discretely placed on the side of my house.  The neighbors only had one window facing it and I thought the location was aesthetically ideal--my pile could offend no one.  Then one spring, when all my winter kitchen compost was beginning to thaw at once in a wet, gloppy heap, it went straight to anaerobic decomposition.  The smell wafted up to my neighbor's bedroom window and instead of enjoying the fresh, spring air, they had the stink of rotting garbage.  When they spoke to me about it, I wasn't the ideal representative for why they should want to live green.

Some people use vermicomposting as their solution for kitchen compost, and worms can certainly do the job in certain circumstances.  I tried worm composting, and had success--for a while.  When vermicomposting goes afoul, it is not something you want in your house.

I know a woman who lived in the country.  During the summer months, when she was done cooking, she opened her kitchen window and just threw her kitchen compost out the window.  The window was on the back of the house on the second story, facing the woods.  Her kitchen scraps fell among the leaves and trees.  During the night the forest animals would pick the good stuff out.  The rest composted naturally.

What do you do with kitchen compost?  How do you collect it, store it and manage it?  What can you use and what should you throw away?  And most importantly, what do you do if all you have is kitchen compost, with no extra "brown" matter for your pile?

Where do you want to start?

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