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Easy, Lazy, No Turn* Compost

For a while now, artisan, no-knead bread has been popular among foodie-types, myself included.  I particularly like the “even lazier” version of no-knead bread, which minimizes mess and hands-on time.  Last week while I was whipping up a batch of no-knead sandwich bread, it dawned on me that my version of making compost is just about the same: minimal fuss, minimal tools, basic ingredients, heat and time.

So, without wasting more valuable time, here’s a step by step guide to Easy, Lazy, No Turn* Compost:

1.  Keep a container for scraps handy in your kitchen.  There are all kinds and I have this fancy one with a filter, but I prefer to use these plastic berry picking buckets.  Each season I get a few new ones & recycle the old yucky ones.  I keep my bucket on the sink & everyone know to toss food scraps in there.

bucket on counter

2. Empty your bucket regularly.  If you are too lazy, it starts to smell … and attract fruit flies and ants… Yuck.  We typically fill a bucket every day or two & take it out to this compost pile.  The “active” compost pile is where I pile the daily scraps.  (Note: We’ll spread the remaining aged compost in a few weeks over my fall veggie bed when my plants are more established.)

compost pile fall 10.4.13

3.  Dig a shallow hole in your active compost pile.  We keep a pitchfork at the ready beside the pile so that this takes just a moment.  It’s kind of hard to see, but here is a close-up of what the pile looks with the hole prepped:

compost pile hole 10.4.13

4.  Add your kitchen scraps to the hole.  Colorful!  The discerning eye might spot two paper towels.  We don’t use many of them, preferring cloth dish towels & fabric napkins, BUT I do line every bucket with a half sheet of paper towel, otherwise clean-up can be gross.  Decomposition starts immediately, even in the bucket.

compost in pile 10.4.13

5.  Cover scraps with lawn waste.  Using your pitchfork, completely cover the scraps with grass clippings, brown leaves, etc.  My son had just cut the lawn & leaves were falling, so this is a nice blend of clippings and chopped leaves.

coompost pile covered 10.4.13

5.  Repeat the process every few days.  The more kitchen scraps you add, the more compost you will have at the end of the season.  I’ve mentioned this before, but organic in, means organic out.  If you eat mostly organic, non-gmo produce and don’t use chemicals on your lawn, you’ll be producing rich compost for a fraction of the cost you can buy.  WITH PRACTICALLY NO EFFORT ON YOUR PART.

compost fall closeup 9.16.13

6.  So, walk away and let nature work!  Rain, sunshine, heat and cold, lots of naturally occurring bugs and microorganisms work to decompose your potato skins, banana peels, and coffee grinds into black compost gold.  You can put that back into your veggie beds, annual or perennial beds, or even around your trees and shrubs for happy, healthy plants.

* No-Turn … every compost pile requires some turning to mix the rotting scraps and the fresh additions.  We turn the entire pile two or three times during a six-month season.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  Mix more if you want to speed up the compost process.  Mix less if you are satisfied with a a six-month process.

Happy composting!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Compost How To, Gardening

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Guilt

I sort of hate this weekly post.  All through the week I find myself trying to have NOTHING to toss from my fridge on Tuesday … and that’s a GOOD THING!  Knowing that I have to photograph what I did not use keeps me on my toes.  It’s so easy to buy more than we need.  I can’t resist getting whatever veggies or fruits look fresh when I pick up my raw milk, regardless of what I already have in the fridge.  All of a sudden I have a really full fridge and then it’s a puzzle to everything them into meals so we don’t waste anything!

Apparently one way to avoid wasting food is to plan your meals.  I’m not a big meal planner; instead I think of a handful of dishes to make for the week and then I cook those according to my mood and the weather.  (You know, we don’t like chili on a hot day or salad on a cold day.  I’m grateful for the luxury of choice.)

Anyway, I’ve gotten so much better, but sometimes I still overbuy.  As you can see here.  Those raspberries are my guilty toss of the week.

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • homegrown cucumber peels & stem ends
  • pineapple core (my Vitamix blends this well, but we hate the strings, so…)
  • lovely but moldy raspberries (I bought two containers at Costco but should have known better!)
  • banana peel
  • orange peel

What I made with all of that: smoothies & fresh cukes for lunch.  Surprisingly, Toss It Tuesday has become the best day for using up all our leftovers.  Less guilt all around and THAT is another GOOD THING!

My message for today is BE MINDFUL!  Americans waste A LOT of food, so try to break the trend and not be part of the statistics.

 
 

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Falling for Apples & Pumpkins

September + Cool Temps + Family = Apple Picking Excursion

When the family is all together we’ve got to pack as much fun and together-time in as we can, so….even though there was some grumbling about the early hour, we managed to be first in line for apple picking at R & A Orchards in Ellijay.

The trees were laden:

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And we were laden too!  The orchards are rolling and gorgeous and in no time we picked four pecks of Mutsu, Red Rome Beauty, Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.  Of course we ate our share of each variety – at least one of each kind.  Apple bloat-us.

We forgot to pick up anything from the obligatory farm store, so down the road we popped into the B. J. Reece Apple House for some hot fried apple pies, apple slushies and muscadine slushies.  Overkill?  Yes.  Necessary?  Yes.

We thought we’d hike it all off at Amicalola Falls Park but the traffic just to get inside was insane.  Not sure about you, but I’m not a fan of crowded hiking, so we shelved that plan for another weekend and much to my middle son’s dismay (Sunday afternoon football), we headed to Burt’s Pumpkin Farm.

A twenty year tradition in our family, Burt’s is fun but it fills up fast.  And it’s not a quick visit.  And it was crowded.  But we bypassed the hayrides, skipped the sweets, and focused on choosing pumpkins.  They have A LOT to choose from (and you can’t even see the interesting varieties).

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We chose well and headed home, weary and stuffed and satisfied.  Can you guess what I cooked up for dinner?

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • cinnamon stick
  • brussels sprout leaves & stem ends
  • 5 red raspberry herbal tea bags
  • carrot peels
  • lemon half
  • butternut squash peel & stem end
  • sweet pepper tops & ribs
  • stem end of fennel bulb
  • kale tough stems

What you can’t see:

  • Lots of russet potato peels

What I made with all of that:

Lots of roasted veggies including a carrot & fennel combo, mashed potatoes, and roasted butternut squash on cider sauteed kale with bacon.  Yum.  It was so good I took a photo.

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Can you see why?  The perfect end to a perfect day.  Make your fall perfect too!

 

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18th Birthday Bucket

My middle boy turned eighteen a week ago (woohoo!  senior year!).  Instead of a big bash, he had a handful of friends over for one of his favorite meals, Buffalo Chicken Tacos.    Not much of that meal ends of in compost, but here’s what the bucket looked like (clockwise top to bottom):

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  • Romaine lettuce core
  • Vidalia onion ends & skins (several on bottom of bucket too)
  • carrot peels
  • rose leaf & pink petals
  • banana peel (morning smoothie)
  • garlic paper
  • apple core

No yummy taco meal would be complete in our house without watermelon.  Here’s the bucket of rind:

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And one more birthday photo …

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That boy sure loves his Krispy Kremes!  He had the option of any cake he could dream up (that I would bake). When mom’s a baker, but sometimes store bought has more appeal.  Happy Birthday G!

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

This is the kind of day it was:

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Lily wanted to walk, but I preferred to stay warm and snug inside.  It was so dark all day that after a cup or two of tea and a more than a few pages of my book, even I was restless.    What to do?  Normally, rain equals baking in my book, but I was feeling more soup-y.  See if you can guess what I made from this bucket:

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You can tell how rainy it was from where I photographed my bucket: on the chaise underneath the umbrella.  Anyway, what you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • the tough end & outer leaves of two leeks
  • half of a lemon
  • scrapings from four carrots
  • a moldy raspberry
  • eggshells
  • garlic paper
  • peels from four potatoes
  • espresso grounds

What you can’t see:

  • skins from two onions
  • apple core
  • pear core
  • more eggshells
  • two banana peels
  • peel from two cucumbers
  • stems from fresh marjoram
  • two Tazo “Focus” teabags (my current fave)

What I made with all of that:

  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Lemony Italian Meatball Soup
  • Nutella Pumpkin Pound Cake
  • Hammy Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
  • Smoothie with Banana, Pear, Strawberries & Spinach
  • Pot of espresso turned into my version of Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Happy rainy days to all!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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No Place Like Home

The scent of burgers wafted on the air all afternoon.  Hot dogs sizzled on the grills and drinks were a mere $4 a bottle, $5.50 if you wanted a souvenir cup with ice.  We were enjoying a gorgeous family afternoon at the 2014 FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club from a shady spot on the twelfth fairway and it was a perfect day.  But after five hours on the course (and one meal already grabbed on the run), we opted for better burgers and fries. We headed to the home grill.

What you can see (clockwise from top)

  • sweet potato skins
  • banana peels

sweet potato fries 9.22.13

What you can’t see:

  • celery trimmings
  • carrot peels from two pounds
  • l2 onion skins
  • garlic papers
  • peel from six gala apples

What I made with all of that:

  • Grass-fed Burgers with Mushrooms, Sauteed Onions & Aged Cheddar
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Crust
  • Our usual morning smoothies …
 
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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The Latest Dirt!

What happens when you pile bucket upon bucket of kitchen scraps into an open bin, add grass clippings and yard waste, and let the sun beat down and the rain pour in all summer? This is what you get:

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Rich, black gorgeous compost!  Here’s a close up of the dirt we (actually my ever-willing husband) dug out:

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We figured that this pile of compost represents roughly six months of “work,” which breaks down to approximately:

  • 1,000 hours of sunshine
  • 38.64 inches of rain 
  • a whole lot of earthworms (naturally occurring)
  • lots of other beneficial bugs and microbes
  • 120 buckets of kitchen scraps which could include:
    • over 100 eggshells
    • likely 100 tea bags (no string, tag or staple)
    • scrapings from about 100 carrots
    • scrapings from about 100 potatoes
    • at least 75 onion skins
    • probably 75 banana peels
    • most likely 75 lemon, lime, and/or orange peels
    • corn husks from at least 60 ears of corn (but no cobs)
    • core/stem ends of about 30 heads of lettuce
    • skin from at least 25 avocados (not pits)
    • grounds from at least 25 pots of espresso
    • peels from about 25 cucumbers
    • tough stems from about 20 bunches of kale
    • rinds from at least 12 whole watermelons
    • rings from at least 12 cantaloupes/honeydews
    • countless odds and ends from berries, tomatoes, hot & sweet peppers, broccoli stems, brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, and more
    • a variety of past-its-prime fruit, veggies, and/or herbs from my Toss-It Tuesday fridge clean-up
  • Plus:
  • 100 lawnmower bags of grass clippings (not all used)
  • assorted hedge & veggie garden trimmings
  • at least 1,000 spent rose petals & leaves
  • lots of spent spring annuals (pansies)

Phew!  Life is complicated enough without worrying about strict combinations of “greens” and “browns” or carbon/nitrogen ratios.  Like life, compost is a balancing act.  You provide the raw materials, Mother Nature provides the sun and rain, and by the end of the season, you’ve got compost to … start all over again.  If we can find time to do, you can too.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Compost How To

 

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