11 April 2009

Spring has [finally] sprung

I love composting. I love that the state of Illinois is closer to allowing commercial composting (approved by the IL Senate; awaiting vote in the House). I love even more that Chicago's bid for 2016 includes the assumption of in-state commercial composting as well as the facilities to provide it.

That's all big stuff -- changing laws, handling Olympic waste. What I love even more about composting is what each of us can accomplish. I haven't posted recently about the worms -- and I will, in more detail -- but this is my favorite time of year, for the gardening, for March Madness, and for the annual audit of my compost bins.

Each year, I pick up my outdoor bins to see what I've got inside. I usually stop adding to the outdoor bins around the first snow of the autumn prior, and I let the bins sit through the winter. Come spring, I need to fill up my raised beds, and what better to use than the compost I've been creating since the year before?

Usually what I find in a bin around this time of year is a mush of indecipherable brown and green waste on top, with some lovely compost underneath. After I pull off the bin, I push over the top, partially-composted material onto a plastic sheet, scoop up the mostly-composted material into the wheelbarrow, and then put the bin back into its spot.

Sometimes I use the partially-composted material in the bottom of a raised bed, with the mostly-composted on top, depending on the level of decomposition. Sometimes I just put the partially-composted material back into the bin, as a starter for the coming composting season. This material already has the bacteria and critters to help the compost along, so it's a terrific starter material for new batches of waste.

It's a great feeling. I'm spending less money purchasing compost elsewhere (and yes, I purchase compost elsewhere -- I use the stuff everywhere and couldn't possibly generate enough organic trash in enough bins to cover all of my needs each spring). I'm cutting down on the garbage our family puts into landfills, and I'm removing any odors that might linger in our trash can area, both in the house and in the garage.

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