Valentine’s Day can be a fun day to do something special with/for the kids.  I like to make cookies, and sent some in to school this morning with my girls.  We even have some left over for us to have at home which is a nice bonus.  Other than that, it’s not a big deal in our house.  I was never one to give my kids candy for Valentine’s Day.  They just don’t need it.  I usually had small gifts for them as a surprise (to make up for the no candy!) and I always gave them a  handmade card with words of what makes them special to me.  It’s too soon to tell if they’ll appreciate that, or only remember the fact they didn’t get chocolate!

So moving on from cookies … I’m going to jump to compost!  I love that we are composting.  It’s really not hard, and the result is fantastic feed for your soil!  I have a small container in the kitchen that I fill with raw vegetable scraps.  My 7 year old’s job is to empty that into a container we have right outside our back door.  When that fills it goes into the compost unit.  We’re pretty frugal when we can be.  You can buy fancy plastic containers for composting, or you can make a compost “unit”.   We found a helpful video on YouTube, and used wooden pallets to make a box like structure. When I say “we” I really mean my husband. I have to sing praises of him because he has done a lot of gardening work for me!  He built our compost unit.  We’ve modified the original one by taking off the bottom pallet.  This helps the flow of worms from the ground up.  I’ve also roughly started a second pile – to let the original one breakdown (I call it cooking).  With the new unit,  we are going to dig into the ground a foot deep and add the compost to that.  Again, this is to facilitate the movement of worms, and speed the breaking down process.

What do I compost?  The toilet rolls, our cardboard egg cartons, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, all raw vegetables, grass cuttings, leaves.  I don’t compost cooked food, or meat or fish, or cat litter (gross!).  It’s important to bread down what you are composting.  The egg shells need to be crushed completely, egg cartons & toilet rolls need to be ripped into tiny pieces.  Vegetables need to be cut up.

Items can be categorized by being “green” “intermediate” or “brown”.  Here’s some examples:

GREENS – quick to rot

  • grass cuttings
  • poultry manure (without bedding)
  • young weeds & plants, nettles any age

INTERMEDIATE

  • fruit & vegetable scraps
  • rhubarb leaves (poisonous)
  • teabags, tea-leaves, coffee grounds
  • remains of veg plants
  • straw animal manures
  • cut flowers (cut smaller)
  • soft hedge clippings
  • bedding from herbivorous pets – rabbits, hamsters, etc.
  • perennial weeds (large quantities should be in their own pile)

BROWNS – slow to rot

  • old straw
  • tough plant and veg stems (broccoli)
  • old bedding plants
  • Autumn leaves
  • Woody prunings, evergreen hedge clippings (large quantities should be in their own pile)
  • cardboard tubes, egg cartons
  • crumpled paper and newspaper

Technically, the layering of your compost should be brown material, green material, light sprinkling of lime, then repeat.  There should be approximately 15 cm depth per green/brown layer.

Having said that… I heap mine on!  We keep an eye on whether it gets slimy.  That means it needs more browns.  We occasionally put lime on.  My husband rotates it with a pitchfork (he calls it a grape).  We keep it covered with plastic (and then wood on top of that to keep it from blowing away).    You just know by looking when it’s perfect for spreading – should be a nice dark brown soil/near soil texture.   Oh, and there should be LOTS of worms!

Compost – it’s an easy way to recycle what you have to make something great!  I hope you’ll try it, too.

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