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August 6, 2012

Black Gold

I didn't know anything about composting a year ago. I had a few misinformed opinions about it, including the belief that compost stunk and that it required a lot of worms. Boy, was I wrong. My husband and I were wandering through Costco one day when we came upon a compost tumbler. We thought it sounded like a cool idea, but kept walking. A week or two passed, and over that time, we realized just how many food scraps and vegetable peelings we were either throwing out or pushing down the disposal. And fall was on its way. An enormous sycamore stands tall in our front yard, and the leaves, we learned, would make perfect brown waste. We headed back to the store and came home with two tumblers, and since that day, the hardest part of composting has been assembling the tumblers.

We had a fresh batch of new, homemade dirt (gardeners call it "black gold") ready by this spring, and my garden is enjoying its nutrients like crazy. It's fascinating how banana peels, potato skins, newspapers, coffee filters, and apple cores turn into rich brown soil in a matter of months. But what's even more, is that all we had to do was dump our peels, filters, leaves, and papers into a tumbler, give it a good weekly spin (sort of like the big wheel on The Price is Right), and reaped the benefits a few month later. It's really that simple.

Composting can be done in bins of almost any shape or size. It requires the right ratio of brown waste (things like dry leaves, twigs, corn cobs, hay, pine needles, sawdust) and green waste (things like grass clippings and food waste). Air, sunlight, and moisture are also essential to composting, as well as a little patience and time. The resulting "black gold" is rich, smells wonderful (if you like the smell of clean dirt like I do), and makes your garden grow like mad. And even better, you won't have to buy topsoil, and if you're like us, you won't be hauling your trash or recycling bins out nearly as often as you used to. It's a win-win-win.

For tips on starting up your own compost bin, visit Composting 101.


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