Garbage Smoothie Anyone? – cold composting, a tutorial

Compost piles are a wonderful thing and they make great compost if you actually maintain them…. or you wait 2 or 3 years.  Well, I currently have no place to let a compost pile sit unnoticed for 2 or 3 years and my track record for maintaining a compost pile is very bad indeed.  I once had a wonderful turban squash vine grow from my poorly maintained compost pile.  It climbed a nearby tree and produced 3 lovely orange squashes hanging from a limb like party lights.  That was fun.  But back to my current solution for fertilizing my garden while recycling fruit and vegetable scraps all in one fell swoop….

Cold composting is the fastest way to get the scraps back into the ground in a form that plants (and worms) can use. Basically you are making your scraps so small that they are almost instantly part of the soil.  All you need is a blender.  I do my cold composting in a Vita Mix which is a very powerful blender.  You may have to leave out the green pepper stems/ cabbage centers, etc. if your blender is not real powerful, but chopping smaller and putting enough water in the blender also helps disintegrate the less willing participants.

I put a little water in my extra blender jar and keep it in the frig.  (It’s a little dirty with what I couldn’t scrape out of the last load.)

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Then when I am cooking/peeling/chopping/ producing leavings of the plant variety, I set the container on the counter or in the sink where I am working and plunk the ‘garbage’ right in (leaving a little for Lenny & Squiggy the guinea pigs).

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When it’s almost full, I add some water to ease the grinding and the pouring, warn people nearby of impending blender noise and let it fly until all is smooth and small.  I have a tamper with my VitaMix that works through a hole in the top.  You may have to stop and move things around, but if you have enough water in the mix, it should all get chopped and mixed.

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Make sure you offer your children, spouse, partner a garbage smoothie first, then take it out to the garden.

Work between your rows and scrape a top layer of soil or mulch away making a long shallow trench.  I usually use 1-2 blenderfuls for an 8 foot length in my raised beds and do that 4-5 different places in the same bed.

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Pour the garbage smoothie into the trench.

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It’s okay to be close to plants, just don’t slop a bunch on them or dig up their roots.

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Cover the furrow back up then go cook and eat more so you can make another one!

I am particularly sure to include eggshells in every batch as I tend to get blossom rot on tomatoes otherwise.  I also compost coffee grounds and filters, although we use a single cup coffee pot which uses a small filter and a couple of Tbsp of grounds – not sure if it would be too much grounds if you used a whole pot size dose.

One of the biggest surprises to me in this process was how quickly the compost disappears.  Although I can still see tiny bits of eggshell for a month or more, the rest of it blends right in with the soil in a matter of weeks, so by the time I’ve fed my four 8X4 raised beds, I just go back to the beginning and keep building rich, dark soil that fosters healthy plants that more easily withstand the onslaught of Middle TN bugs, diseases and late summer drought.

If you’d like other ideas for interesting things to compost, check out the website
http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/surprising-compost-items.htm

And let us know about your composting adventures!

This was shared on Tuned In Tuesday Blog Hop!

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