Way to Compost 3: The 3 Bin System

As an intern on an organic farm, I used to compost a lot of raw farm material. The farm was certified biodynamic, which meant that as much as possible, we strived to be a closed system—a farm “organism.” Very few inputs came in (coffee and chocolate were the much needed and celebrated exceptions), and no…

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Compost where?

There are two important places where compost happens in nature: the forest floor and inside stomachs. The forest floor is a slow, sweet smelling compost pile we call duff.  Duff even sounds muted and mysterious, a substance with tiny secrets and tantalizingly familiar smells. Leaves created through the miraculous process of photosynthesis—a process made possible…

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Backyard Tributary

Over the next few days, many people in the U.S. will gather, prepare, give thanks for, and eat a beautiful variety of foods. Might be turkey, might be tres leches, baba ganoush, mac ‘n cheese, or roasted pumpkin and wild rice. Then, the leftovers. The last iterations of soup and sandwich give way to what?…

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Way to Compost 2: Worms

They are born, eat, breathe through their skin, and burrow beneath us in the darkness of the soil. Darwin described them as “the intestines of the earth” and went on to say that “it may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the…

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A few years ago, one of our best loved chickens died.  Despite her constant search for a hole in the garden fence, Cacciatore was a wonderful earwig eater and provided our family with beautiful, light brown eggs.  Mom liked having her around while she was weeding, so instead of burying her way out in the…

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Why Compost?

Let’s talk about compost—what it is and why we need to make it happen now more than ever. Every time we eat plants or animals who eat plants, the nutrients they and we need to grow are taken from the soil and put into our bodies for energy. We burn it as energy, but there…

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Way to Compost 1: The Backyard Food Digester

For gardens and people in the city, room and time are big obstacles to composting.  A food digester, sometimes known as a green cone, is perfect if you want to keep organic matter out of your garbage but not work too hard, take up too much space, or think too much about composting it.  Basically,…

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Composting back to life

When anything once alive dies and is put in a compost pile, microscopic life forms begin their work of living and dying. They break down organic matter into tinier and tinier pieces, more elemental with each pass through their microscopic bodies. They eat and live and also die, until all that has died becomes entirely…

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Do you remember the film the series “Planet Earth?” New technology allowed them to zoom in from tremendous distances with crystal clear clarity.  Such groundbreaking camera work is not only visually stunning, but scientifically important in studying the behavior of animals while unaware of a human presence.  The series included, “Deserts,” “Ice Worlds,” “Great Plains,”…

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