Given access to the smallest scrap of earth, I'll start a garden. And once gardening commences, composting is not far behind.
In Baltimore our constantly-fighting, tree-hating, next-door-neighbors detested our compost bin, because they were convinced it was the source of every rat in the entire city. Personally, I think they should have directed some of their negative energy to our upstairs neighbor who regularly threw his kitchen scraps out his third-storey window. He was a toothless, ex-cop, cross-dressing gazork, and perhaps the next-door-neighbors found him a tad unapproachable. Who knows, in a city like Baltimore?
At the farmhouse outside of Cooperstown, I started the compost pile that earned the affectionate nickname "the raccoon's snack bar." Once I got access to the tiny plot in West Oakland, I was carrying compost buckets into work each morning.
Yeah, I'm pretty much of a compost wacko.
From the moment we took possession of our little cottage, we've been composting.
However, not all food waste goes into the compost pile. Eggshells and coffee "pucks" (we make lattes at our house) go directly onto the garden.
Our garden in East Oakland has a serious slug problem. They'll completely destroy a young plant overnight. If you research non-chemical methods of slug-deterrence, you'll read about setting out saucers of left-over beer, and about sprinkling ground eggshells on the soil. I'm not sure where other people get this stuff, but we never have extra beer around our house.
Eggshells, on the other hand are easy. We stick the empty shells in the oven, because dried out shells are so much easier to grind up than fresh. Our vintage oven has a perpetually-lit pilot light, so eggs dry out quickly. Somehow, while we've become very methodical about sticking eggshells in the oven, we've utterly failed to develop the habit of taking them out before we preheat the oven. When Ellen was visiting, we actually managed to set eggshells on fire. How we didn't notice the horrible sulfur smell that led up to combustion is still a bit of a mystery.
When we're not trying to set the house on fire, we're shooting moody photos of slightly burnt eggshells. A short depth of field is always arty.
We spread eggshells over the most slug-infested areas of the garden, and the slugs apparently eat the shells with relish. Toasted eggshell must be a most delicious delicacy, because the shells completely de-materialize almost overnight. It's mystifying.
When the coffee "pucks" fill up our adorably mis-labeled canister, I'll sprinkle the coffee over our garden. When I had a friend working at a coffee shop near my studio, I used to get used coffee grounds in five gallon buckets. I'm told that the earthworms love coffee grounds.
Robb takes a different approach, and lobs coffee at the feral cats, when he sees them harassing the birds.
So, does anyone have any further questions about our soil amendment techniques? Have I left anything out?