Call me cheap, but there’s nothing like a hit in the pocketbook to effect change.
So a few years ago when the city instituted its new garbage policy, which limits residents to one garbage can per week and after that you pay-per-bag, I decided it was time to take action.
(Now do not get me wrong. I am a fan of the new system, which while adding the garbage fee, also came with our curbside recycling program that allows unlimited bags of recyclables picked up once every two weeks.)
Not wanting to pay more than my current taxes already cover, I decided my five-person household was going to need to make a few adjustments to keep to my garbage limit.
Enter the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District. I noticed their ad promoting composting. For $40 and my attendance at a short educational seminar, I was able to obtain a lovely composting unit at a much cheaper price than buying retail.
So for more than two years, I’ve been dumping my potato peels, orange rinds and grape stems into the handy black bin. I tromp out in the dead of winter and dump my kitchen bucket into the bin and wondered if I was going to hit the fill mark. But come spring, things would warm up and my compost would happily cook away shrinking in size, but not in nutrients.
I am a bit of a lazy gardener, so it was some time before I decided to open the latch and take a peek at what was on the bottom.
And, can you believe it, I made earth. EARTH.
You know, the brown stuff we stand on. The stuff that you grow things in. I made it. And by using stuff I would previously have sent to the garbage dump.
How cool is that?
I feel a bit like a superhero, or the caveman who discovered fire. My basil may be wilted and my flowers looking a bit parched, but it doesn’t matter. I can successfully grow soil.
If I can do it anyone can. The CSRD is still offering their composters at a bargain price. All you need to get started is a container to hold all of the ingredients together so the beneficial bacteria that break down the plant matter can heat up and work effectively. It’s good to put it in a sunny spot to speed things up.
Then try to get a good mix. A low-maintenance pile has a combination of brown and green plant matter, plus some moisture to keep the good bacteria humming. Shredded newspaper and dry leaves are ideal for the brown elements; kitchen waste is perfect for the green.
Be sure to skip meat, fish, oils and dairy, which don’t compost well and attract unwanted attention from animals from mice to bears. Turn the pile with a pitchfork every now and again to make sure that all of the materials are blended. (I might have been a little slack on this step, and it all worked out in the end.)
Then add time.
And, some months later, you too can be transformed into a soil superhero.