Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cuckoo for compost

I am probably the only person who shows up to the farmers' market lugging a granny cart filled with bags of frozen compost...and a Vera Wang gown. Such is the life of a seamstress who longs to be a farmer! Or maybe the urban version of a farmer, and with a bit more time for intellectual pursuits.

Composting is a part of my daily life in a way, even though I don't do the actual work of decomposing (or keeping worms) myself. I can't really remember how long it's been since I started saving up our food scraps, freezing them in plastic bags, and taking them into the Union Square Greenmarket for the Lower East Side Ecology Center's compost drop-off. My freezer would probably remember the exact point when it started working about the same time that our neighborhood garbage collectors were impressed at our lightened trash load (as much as 14 lbs. less per week!). Once you start, composting is very addictive. Going back to throwing out all that delicious organic matter would be a little like dishing up plates of food every night, then throwing them away -- with hungry children begging right outside your door! Okay, perhaps I'm being a little dramatic, but I have gone through hell and high water to deliver food scraps for the industrious LESEC worms. On one occasion I even persuaded a Union Square sanitation worker to help me fish my bags of designated compost out of a trash can where I had thrown them in despair when I couldn't find the drop-off booth -- only to discover it soon after on the opposite side of the square.

Those of you with compost experiences should weigh in here please! I want your stories of escaping worms and friends' quizzical looks as they see what you're hoarding under the sink. And those of you who haven't tried yet, give it a whirl; look for food scrap drop-offs at your local farmers' market or community garden. It's a small way to make a big difference.


  1. Composting IS addictive! I love wasting less and reusing kitchen scraps. I have a worm bin in my kitchen. Occasionally a few worms escape, which is icky, but mostly it is a self-contained, non-odiferous system. You have to be conscientious and remember to add material to the bin regularly to keep the moisture levels etc. stable, and not add any citrus fruits because they are poisonous to the worms. It is also better to add small pieces of produce to the bin rather than a giant stalk of broccoli etc. because it takes so long to break down. I have had a worm bin for about six months and it has produced some lovely dark soil I can sprinkle on houseplants.

  2. Sounds excellent, Heidi! Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great composting. :)

  3. "the urban version of a farmer, and with a bit more time for intellectual pursuits"- i like that!

  4. We used to have a worm composter but struggled to deal with the amazing amount of worm tea it produced. Perhaps if we had had a garden to pour it over! ;)