Lessons from the Kitchen Compost Pot

Lessons from the Kitchen Compost Pot

Sixty percent of all waste that ends up in American landfills is organic. That’s a ton of organic material that will never be able to decompose because it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to decay. And that’s a damn shame, considering the fact that 30-40% of our individual household waste could be composted and turned back into healthy soil to grow healthy foods.

Landfills are environmental nightmares. They are the third largest source of methane in the United States – a greenhouse gas far more harmful for our environment than CO2. The more trash we can keep out of them, the better.

 

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But other than the incredibly important mission to reduce your household trash output, why compost? 

  1. Compost enriches the soil and improves garden yield.
  2. Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides in gardens and landscaping
  3.  Reduces pollution of air, soil, and water by reducing CO2 & methane emissions from landfills and by reducing heavy metals & grease from stormwater runoff.

Composting is one of the best things you can do to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. 

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What do I compost?

  • Table scraps: fruits and vegetables
  • Hair and fur
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Hay & straw
  • Paper products (as long as they’re not inked)
  • Cotton
  • Eggshells and nutshells (NOTE: if you have chickens, make sure the chickens and all other animals have no access the the eggshells in the compost.)
  • Dryer and vacuum lint

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Keep these habits for optimal compost hygiene:

  • Empty your kitchen compost pot once a week.

Last summer, I was so busy with work that I went weeks without taking out the compost. It was bad. I opened the compost pot to see creepy crawlies in there that were doing their best to break down the food – and I am very appreciative of their hard labors to bring me next year’s glorious fertilizer – but I did NOT appreciate the fact that they were in my kitchen!

I had to take the compost pot out, empty the festering contents onto the compost pile in the pasture, and then I had to scrub out the pot.

 

  • Make sure you get the right mix of greens and browns 

In order for compost to work, you have to add three main ingredients:

  1. Browns
    • Straw, hay, twigs, branches, and dead leaves provide carbon
  2. Greens
    • Grass clippings, fruits and vegetables provide nitrogen 
  3. Water
    • Provides moisture that assists with organic breakdown.

 

  • Turn the compost on a regular basis 

This is a step I’ve forgotten to remember in the past. You need to regularly turn your compost pile – I turn mine with a shovel (It’s a great workout for my core, so I’m not complaining!)

Turning your compost speeds up the process by airing it out to re-heat it and keep it in an aerobic state (so it can continue to break down the organic material). It mixes the air and moisture to continue the compost process.

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I’ve spent years trying to reduce our household trash output, and composting is one of the best ways to reduce what goes in the garbage. Not only that, but it’s gold for the garden – I love watching our table scraps turn into rich soil, which helps our garden grow.

And without the garden, we wouldn’t have pickles, chamomile, salads, or summer squash casseroles… and those are what makes summer so great.

A Warm Winter Day

A Warm Winter Day

The first thing I do every morning is let the dogs out. Even on the coldest days, It’s a nice way to wake up. I bring my warm lemon water outside and walk around our 2 acres as the dogs zip around.

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Usually when I’m out walking with my dogs in the morning, I look up at the tree tops and think, “Please let this be a productive day”, and I inhale deeply. I’m savoring all the nature I can before I head inside to the computer.

But today was different. Today was a slow start. Lazy Sunday. When I first woke, there was a heavy fog covering the land. And when I walked out a couple hours later, the fog had lifted but there were tiny droplets on every branch. The droplets evaporated so fast that by the time I had cleaned my camera lens and came back outside, they were gone.

 

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During spring, wild bluebells pop up all around the creek, and it’s a momentary burst of color. The lack of leaves on the trees, and the lack of tall grasses completely open this creek bed in the winter. It makes the property feel smaller. So when everything fills out in the summer, the property starts to feel like a magical oasis.

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It’s fun to watch this property change with the seasons. When I lived in the city, I couldn’t wait for winters to pass. These days, I’m enjoying the cold weather months a little bit more — especially on days like today, when you can throw a frisbee around without your fingers going numb.

Women Should Carry Pocket Knives.

Women Should Carry Pocket Knives.

When I got together with my Dad for Christmas, he handed me a gift that I couldn’t open. I tucked my finger under the fold of the wrapping paper and tugged, but it wouldn’t budge. I pulled and tugged until I remembered that I had my pocket knife on me.

“These rural kids and their pocket knives,” my Dad teased. And he’s right — many people I know who live in rural environments carry knives or utility tools. They come in handy when we’re releasing a bale of straw from it’s cord, cutting away vines or branches, or opening feed bags for our animals.

But I think pocket knives shouldn’t just be for the “rural kids”. I think they’re for everyone. For the most part, I see men carrying pocket knives, and they sing praises of the pocketknives’ usefulness for hiking, backpacking, and sailing. But what about the women?

Women should wear pocket knives. And not just because they make you feel badass. Carrying a pocketknife can get you out of some major and minor situations.

Here are some reasons to carry a knife:

Open Things! 

I kick myself when I need my pocket knife and I don’t have it. Opening mail envelopes, cardboard boxes and food packaging is so much easier when you have a sharp edge in your pocket. Either run off to find the scissors, or simply reach into your pocket.

When I bought my pocket knife, I imagined myself escaping from dire situations with my knife. I imagined cutting ropes, whittling wood, and other survivalist activities. To be honest, I mostly just use it to open cheese packets. But let’s be real, here. Cheese is life. Being able to open that packet of string cheese is going to make your day better.

Protect Yourself! 

As a woman, you learn to fear the world. You learn to fear your own doorbell when it rings. You learn to never walk alone at night. I used to be so afraid of being on my own in the city. Even in good areas, you never know what’s going to happen. Having my knife on me gives me peace of mind. I can live fearlessly with the knowledge that if anyone tries to fuck with me, I can stab them in the throat. It might sound brutal, but hey it’s true.

In some situations, pocket knives can be used for first aid. Get out that splinter or fashion a tourniquet.

Go Camping & Fishing!

Knives are necessary in the wilderness. They can help you start a fire, fight a bear, cut rope and fishing line, dig holes, and more.

We shouldn’t leave the utility knife up to the guys. Women have a responsibility to be just as prepared as the men. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to carry the tools we need.

Eat! 

How sad would you be if you were starving and had a can of tuna … but no way to open it?

If you’re traveling through northern Michigan or another remote area and you come across a small market, your pocket knife will help you open packages, cans, and glass bottles.

It really is best practice to be prepared. Even if it’s just to open a cheese packet. Because you never know when you’ll have to take someone down at the gas station.