Wednesday, March 18, 2009


There’s a fair amount of fertilizer is flowing from east of the Mississippi; at least our little side project results in a product we can use.

What do you get when you cross kitchen fruit and veggie scraps, other miscellaneous scraps, a big soup pot, and an old dehydrator that looks like a microwave? Well, if you mix in Lilly Miller compost maker or a similar product and wait about a week; you get free fertilizer.

We’ve been running a sort of experiment for the last couple of months. One that has allowed us to cut our garbage service back to every other week. There’s only mom and me so we weren’t generating a lot of garbage anyway. The local garbage hauler has an excellent program so we recycle as much paper, metal and glass as we can. There’s a yard debris pickup program as well. But, the yard debris doesn’t include kitchen trimmings and that was what was making up about half of our garbage. I guess you could call it the down side to cooking from scratch. You do get a fair amount of peelings and trimmings.

There are some things that we don’t include in this little experiment. No meat or poultry scraps and NO potato peelings. If you don’t compost potato peels properly you end up with spuds coming out the wazoo. Once you have potatoes in the flower beds you will have potatoes FOREVER. At least it seemed that way at the time. It took us several years to get the last batch cleaned out. Those volunteer potatoes were really good, though. They were especially good with peas and little green onions. J

Ok, back to the fertilizer. The starter is a dry, granular product that has the bacteria that starts the decomposition process and some fertilizer. Mix the peels, coffee grounds and trimmings with about half a cup of the starter in the pot, make sure it’s fairly moist and stick it in the dehydrator. Run it during the day and give it a stir once in awhile. You don’t have to run it very high, 100 to 120 degrees depending on how ummm, aromatic the mixture gets as those little bacterium do their jobs. You can buy kitchen composters. But, we had all these things already, so play with what you’ve got and see what comes out before shopping for new.

It takes about a week to turn the fresh peelings into a not quite disgusting pot of almost fertilizer. Out that batch goes to the garden; in comes a new batch. Roses seem to love banana peels and coffee grounds especially. And it’s a good thing that it only takes about a week because by then we have enough orange peels, coffee grounds, banana peels, onion tops and the like to start a new batch. Makes the garden grow and the worms seem happy for their lunches. At least when it quits raining and the sun finally comes out.

So far we have five primroses, some rock cress, two andromedas, the last pathetic crocuses, and a few daffodils.


Lisa :-] said...

Right here at the end is the place where you insert a picture of some of your little flowers...just to make those in the East jealous!

I think it's great that you've taken on composting. Some day, when I have time to garden again, I'll have to try it. I have close connections to a great source of organic kitchen waste... :)

Lisa :-] said...

P.S.--It was a beautiful day around here yesterday, and the daffodils that have been in bud since February just exploded into bloom.

Kathy said...

Well, I do see just a hint of green popping up in my garden. I'm sure it is the pink tulips waking from their long winter rest.

I use coffee grounds for the garden ... just dump them right in! They help to airate (sp) the soil and the worms seem to love that.

I'm a little green with envy that your calling your last crocuses pathetic ...