Monday, August 22, 2011

(Sub)urban composting

Food scraps go in...fertilizer comes out
As it turns out, nature is awesome.  Especially when I can control it.

Just recently I have started a compost pile in our backyard.  Yeah, that's right.  I am making trash into plant food.  Don't even think about calling that "not-awesome."

So here's what I do.  We have a 3' x 3' x 3' chicken wire cube.  First off, I put in a bunch of grass clippings with some water (I use reclaimed rain water and shower water.  Can I get a high five for sustainability?).  Then comes all of our vegetable, fruit, and grain scraps.  Every day, we collect all of that stuff in a plastic beer pitcher from Wurstfest (That's right, I'm reducing, reusing, and recycling).

We can't put anything in there that is cooked or processed because that will attract rats (and our dog).  Then you cover that concoction with another layer of grass clippings and Voila! Compost.

The key to a good compost pile is keeping it hot.  The chemical reactions that take place to break down the parts into usable fertilizer require between 110 and 150 degrees.  Good thing it's about 106 outside every afternoon.  However, I don't want it to get too hot, so I continue to sprinkle the reclaimed water in every other evening.

mix and mingle
Finally, I mix it all up with a rake.  In the month that I have been doing this, I have already noticed the transformation of the pile.  I can't look in there and say, "There's my apple core, there is an onion peel, and look, there's the lettuce that I spilled on the floor."  It's all been broken down into hummus.  

Hummus is the black material that is worth its weight in gold for vegetable farmers.  And here's the really cool part - it doesn't smell like rotting food.  It has this wonderful earthy, organic aroma.  It smells good.

The whole goal is to use this compost in next spring's vegetable planting.  I plan on sowing swiss chard (a salad with a distinctive red stem), tomatoes, peppers, and maybe even some squash.

Here's to sustainable, organic, at home vegetables! Bon Apetit!


Now, if you've managed to read all the way through this blog post, you may ask, "So what does this have to do with living a holy life?"  Honestly, I pray best when I am working on my little herb garden or mixing compost.  I feel connected - connected to God's creation in a very tangible way.  In God, we see a Trinity of persons as one Being.  In (sub)urban farming, I mimic those connections by being in relationship with God and creation at the same time. 




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