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Does composting always translate into tacky?

By Penny Stine

My mom’s been gardening a lot longer than me and has taught me several tricks over the years. She’s also been composting for years and uses a gallon-milk jug as a temporary container for kitchen scraps. Before I began composting I used to see the milk jug brimming with potato peels, egg shells and cantaloupe seeds and thought it looked tacky in Mom’s always-spotless kitchen.

So when I first started composting kitchen scraps I tried to take them out to my compost bin immediately. That worked until the snow was a foot deep in my garden. Then I got out a milk jug, cut off the top and started my own recycling program, just like mom. It looks tacky, but I don’t have any better ideas.

Does anyone have a better solution? I try to compost everything from coffee grounds in the morning to vegetable peels and melon rinds later in the day.

My compost bin is in the middle of the garden, in a shady area that wasn’t good for growing anything. Although it’s in the front yard, no one ever notices it because it’s sandwiched by a tree and a vine-covered fence, so I’m not crossing into tacky territory too badly by having it almost visible from the street.

However, I bought this compost bin online a few years ago before local stores started carrying anything, and haven’t been real pleased with it.

The idea is that you put kitchen and yard waste in the top, let nature do its thing and have lovely compost in a few months, which you can access from the doors in the bottom.

The problem is that the bin is about four feet tall - too tall to get in and turn the compost, so waste doesn’t break down like it should. It also gets stuck in the middle of the bin, so the bin seems full from the top, but has a void at the bottom.

My solution is to push it down from the top and wrestle it out through the bottom doors with a pitchfork and throw it on a compost heap next to the bin and let it finish decomposing, where it looks slightly tacky, but is hidden by both the tree and the actual compost bin.

Little did I know my compost pile would sprout.

I think it’s a squash, but it may be a cucumber. Should I transplant it to a sunny spot and see what grows?


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