November 11, 2013

Trash to Treasure

I love it when the random stuff that accumulates around our place actually turns out to be useful! Case in point, a dumpster salvaged barbecue grill and a plastic concrete mixing tub. The concrete tub was actually a premeditated acquisition that served as Eden's bathtub all summer long. We'd throw a couple gallons of water in there in the morning, put a piece of plexiglass on top, and by afternoon the sun would have warmed it up to perfect outdoor bath temperature. The grill from the barbecue has been sitting in the outdoor kitchen for years, unused until now.

The project I had in mind was to sift through a finished compost pile. Turns out the metal grill has handles on it that perfectly fit the sides of the concrete tub, mostly keeping it in place. I'd shovel some compost on the grill, work it around with my hands, and any large chunks would stay behind. You never realize how many peaches and avocados you eat until you go through your compost pile! Peach pits, avocado pits and skins and butternut squash stems were the three most common un-composted ingredients. This compost pile was constructed during a year where we bought and canned several bushels of peaches, so there were A LOT of peach pits! All together I put about one five-gallon-bucket's worth of material into the current compost pile. The rest was BEAUTIFUL dark, crumbly compost that all went onto one garden bed. It was enough to cover a 4' x 12' bed with a layer of compost about an inch thick. So very satisfying.

Of course, that was the results of almost a year's worth of kitchen scraps, garden weeds and an old square hay bale for layering. At this rate, it would take us over a decade of home composting to enrich each of our garden beds with a one-inch layer of compost. This is why we cheated this spring and bought a whole dumptruck load of compost from a local large-scale compost operation, primarily in hopes of improving the overall structure of our heavy clay soil. This small, homemade compost pile didn't feel like cheating, though. It felt like we'd struck oil in the back yard.

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