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Lazy Mama’s Composting

The following article was written by Carissa Leventis-Cox of Mama in the Kitchen, and she ain’t cookin’!

After four years of experimenting, I have found the cheapest, easiest, and kindest way to compost. And lucky for you, I’m going to let you in on my secret. But before we get started, did you know the following facts?

  • Sixty-five percent of what we throw away can be composted.
  • North America throws away enough food yearly to feed the country of Canada.
  • We throw about 660 pounds of food per person each year.
  • Good organic rubbish buried 3 feet deep in landfills does not turn into soil because it does not decompose.
  • A banana peel takes three to four weeks to decompose outdoors on the ground, but it will never decompose in a landfill because it lacks oxygen, bacteria, and earthworms.

Don’t be intimidated by my composting process, as no fancy or useless gadgets are involved and not much involvement is required. Just a pitchfork and a small garden are necessary (if that). Check it out:

  1. Choose any spot in your garden for your compost pile. Mine are camouflaged all over my yard.
  2. Place some surrounding soil (adds bacteria and microbes), your browns (dried leaves and paper), and pieces of greens (grass, leaves, yard trimming, coffee with filters, fruit, tea, vegetables) on the spot. Do not add any dairy products, fats, oil, grease, or meat.
  3. Mix it all together.
  4. Top with more dried leaves to hide it and help with circulation so that critters don’t smell it and come for a visit. Although a pile 3 feet by 3 feet is considered the best, my piles are much smaller and still work wonders.
  5. Add more scraps and turn once a week to speed up the process. An abundance of insects and fat earthworms are a good sign!
  6. Water it once in a while to keep the pile damp and to speed up the process.
  7. Start another pile if you want your original pile to compost thoroughly. The first pile will reward you with compost in three to six months! Although some say if you cut everything in little pieces and turn your pile often, you can get compost in as little as two weeks!

If your pile smells bad, check what you’ve put into it and whether it’s too wet or needs turning. If the pile is dry, add water or add less dry matter. Food may also attract ants when dry. If pile is damp but not composting, turn it and mix in grass clippings and more woody wastes.

Good luck!

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  • SuzanneG says:

    I just started a compost pile a few months ago using this method – and I have been rewarded with enough rich compost soil for my early spring planting. I would like to add earthworms to my compost to speed the process, but my worry is that when I turn or mix the dirt I might kill or hurt some of them. Any suggestions?

  • Claudia says:

    The title of this article makes it look like this is for lazy gardeners only when in reality this is probably the first article I have read on composting that admits that making compost is as easy as written by Carissa! All those gadgets commerce wants us to buy, adding this and that and turning the pile so many times a week is simply, in my opinion, rubbish! I have 2 compost piles using the method mentioned in this article and IT WORKS! And somehow it does not attract any rodents or unwanted animals, just some slugs, snails, ants and all that good stuff that makes a compost work. And the finished product is ALL I use on my vegetable patch – lekker!

  • Karil says:

    Hello Carissa. I agree, this is a fast and easy way to compost, however the topping of brown material does not deter rats and other rodents. We live in the country, in the middle of a pear orchard in the south of France, and as much as I find the tiny field mice and shrews quite adorable, I do not want to attract any more than we already have. The rats are almost the size of my cats, and I’d like to see them long gone and far away! (Such rats recently attacked our neighbor’s old labrador!) All these critters burrow, so I am planning to construct another compost contraption of open slats of wood built over a wide, shallow hole that is lined with two layers of strong, fine-gauge mesh. The container, too, will be double- lined with the mesh. I am hoping that this will keep the little critters from considering my compost heap as an open pantry and that they might move somewhere else. I doubt it, however, because they also have my vegetable garden (my very first). So, next year, I shall construct a raised-bed garden that is also lined in mesh. I’ve read that this is also quite effective. My present garden is riddled with holes and tunnels, and my cats proudly present me tiny, adorable critters every day. The rats are too big for them to tackle! However, friends in Switzerland have tended a compost such as yours for decades, and they have no problems with rats or other rodents. Because there are occasional foxes, they put their proteins next to the heap, too, so that the foxes come to feast. They, therefore, do not use the compost in their garden, but they enjoy catching sight of the foxes now and then.

  • Ellienne says:

    I love this because it’s so simple and basic. Mine is even more so – I simply dump everything into a heaping pile! Incredibly, the little bugs that come to collect through are the sweet little fruitflies that cause no harm, smell or nuisance. Little sweet fluffy songbirds sometimes perch there, grabbing a delightful little snack. BUT – perhaps it’s so easy this way because i use mostly all organic. When i use conventional peelings, odd odors form. But my organic produce mostly just dries, or disappears within days. My compost is amazing. : ) All organic, and the seeds grow! There’s no smell!