Peels to Meals

By Steven V. Philips –

Peelings, all my life is peelings…

If you garden, you must compost. Period. You just have to.

So, why won’t you do it? Why? Composting is one of the easiest ways to treat the environment and your garden royally. (No, it’s not letting your mother-in-law do your weeding.)

The wonder of composting is how peelings from peaches, the tops of turnips, leftover lettuce and those mysteries from the back of the refrigerator squish into my compost pile where they break down into rich soil that nourishes new fruits and vegetables which turn into meals in the kitchen, the peelings and leftovers of which end up in the compost pile again. Ain’t garbage grand?

Plus, the Experts offer you guaranteed correct way(s!) to construct and how to correctly compose the contents to make just the most perfect compost pile, heap, bin, box EVER! The Web site “Compost Bin” regularly hauls in two million, one hundred and forty thousand Google hits. So no excuses.

Still, I’ll bet my most beautiful bromeliad that you still don’t compost. Well kiddies, it does take some enormous effort to keep an entire separate bucket
under the sink to store ALL things organic and then that long walk outside. (I do believe I am fatigued thinking about it).

And I won’t specifically name you cheapies that won’t do diddly if it costs more than four dollars, Wayne. However, Composting does not require expensive equipment like a fancy rotating machine, nor does it require elf-created powder or magic elixir activator or Samaganian worms or three special color-coordinated containers from the Stick-It-To-Me Nursery. Wrong.

Here’s a simple compost pile:.

Post hole dig six holes, three feet deep making two four foot squares. In each hole stick six foot long pressure-treated four by fours. These posts, three feet high, look like an “E” if you’re an eagle, or pigeon soaring overhead. Tack hardware cloth (securely!!) on all the posts to make that “E” into two compartments with open fronts. Or screw 1 X 6 inch pressure treated boards all around. Gap them a half an inch for air circulation. Yeah, I know that PT wood could affect compost but probably not in your life time. You can use recycled decking and this thing will still be here for the Alien Invasion in 3021.

Use concrete blocks to fit across the front of each compartment to build up a front, but movable, wall. To discourage raccoons, I preceded the trash guys through my neighborhood to pick up discarded window screens to sit on top of the growing pile. Or you could build proper sized ones.

You could also build your “E” with all concrete blocks but leave half inch vertical gaps for air flow.

To start making this future brown gold you spread out your house bucket’s organic contents an inch thick, cover with an inch of dirt, soak to have the dirt mix with the organic and cover with an other inch. Keep damp. When you fill the bin number one about ¾ deep, move away your blocks, shovel the whole mess into bin number two (this is called turning/reversing the pile) and start over in bin one. Really difficult. It obviously takes a Soil Einstein.

If you are a sissy and buy a plastic compost bin, go for the simplest one with a lid and a door at the bottom for easy access to finished compost. Then you won’t have to “turn the pile.”

Or you could drill six million half inch holes into a thirty-two gallon plastic trash cans but it’s harder to “turn your pile” into can number two. But it’ll work.

Tips for successful composting:

  • Keeping pile damp is critical. Dry piles don’t break down (decay, rot).
  • Compost piles need air. Poking holes into the compost heap with an iron rebar helps aerate and might build up your biceps.
  • Add minimal amounts of grass clippings. Hey, why aren’t you letting those clippings stay on the stupid turf for mulch anyway?
  • Leaves are good. Chump them up very fine first with a leaf chipper.
  • The only wood in the compost bin should be twigs. Meaning quarter inch, Paul Bunyan.
  • Tossing in lint from the dryer, full vacuum cleaner bags, tea bags, coffee filters – all fine.
  • Meat, meat bones and dog or cat poop, wrong, wrong. However, fish bones are just fine.
  • And do not dump in the B-B-Q ashes either!

Now, you’re ready. Go forth and compost. And see how your garden will grow!


7 thoughts on “Peels to Meals”

  1. Dear Composter:
    Glad you took my advice and stopped putting animal waste in the compost pile. 😉
    Seriously, composting is so easy and it’s nice to see an article on it that doesn’t recommend all the latest gadgets.
    Good advice, fun to read. Love the column, as always.

  2. Nice article SVP, once I get settled, we’re gonna fire one of these bad larry’s up. What’s the best location to keep a compost pile? In the shade, under a tree, or in the sunlight? Also, what’s up with the thousand bugs that end up getting attracted to the pile?

  3. We have been composting for years. Easy and saves on lots of extra garbage and trips to the dump. But didn’t know about lint from dryer and vacuum bags. Interesting!

  4. Elmer N Columbus

    I must admit I don’t compost but after reading your article Mr. Philips I’ve never sensed guilt of nature like I do know.

    Thanks for enlightening me on the simple tips to compost. Should I have another garden consider me “in the composting game”!


  5. Ann and Michael

    We don’t have our own private garden, however, we enjoy your column and as always
    it makes us smile.

  6. Great article! I can’t wait until we get our own house that we can start composting and gardening. I didn’t realize all the things you can throw in a compost pile.

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