As green living and sustainability become not only more popular, but also more necessary, the age of composting seems imminent. I’ve been a fan of composting all throughout my time in college. But, as is normal in your early-twenties, I always had small, rented spaces and roommates who, like myself, were busy and on a budget. I was content with encouraging recycling, and did not push any of my cohabitants any further into the world of sustainability.
Now, though, I am living with someone who is also interested in creating less trash. We both have consistent schedules and want to invest in our living space. As soon as our move-in date approached, we were researching the composting process and it became clear that our apartment would pose a problem. With a six-foot long patio, no green space of our own and our agreement on the lease to not upset any surrounding soil, a typical compost pile seemed impossible.
Through online reviews and articles on DIY composting, I decided to purchase an indoor kit, which included the following:
1. One five-gallon, air-tight bin to collect scraps. The bin is (unfortunately) plastic, but is light and easy to carry and clean. It includes a spigot, a lid and a
handle for transportation.
2. A plastic strainer to set inside the bin before adding food scraps, so that the bottom of the bin collects moisture. A spigot at the base of the bin lets me
drain it every few days for compost tea.
3. A bag of microbes to add to the waste, a handful at a time, to aid in fermentation and decomposition. They replace the worms that are used in
vermicomposting, which seem to attract flies and other small pests, a deal breaker for most apartment dwellers.
Indoor composters are advertised as smaller containers that block odors and insects. These bins utilize microbes that pickle the soil in a matter of weeks, meaning that the compost must be transported outdoors to another container, or buried beneath finished soil before being used in gardens or planters.
While composting systems are not commonly seen in stores yet (as I experienced first-hand), they are offered through many online stores, and a small, indoor compost bin and microbes can cost around fifty dollars. With that convenience, composting is no longer just for your neighbor with all the sunhats.
Okay, trying this out for the first time reminded me of a story I had long forgotten. When I was about 19 years old, I moved to southern California. I thought it would be all sorts of hippie-like, I mean, it's California! Honestly, that's definitely an incorrect assumption, most people are pretty much the same, minus the southern accent. But I wasn't the only one with a preconceived notion, people in California asked me if we still had public hanging's in Georgia. Not kidding. Everyone asked me that. But this story isn't about preconceived notions of new places. It's about the preconceived notion that our food is something we can't take into our own hands.
One day while at work I was eating cherries. I put the seeds of the cherries in my water bottle and asked a coworker if he thought I could plant them and grow a cherry tree. Not knowing anything about growing trees it was just a nonchalant question that I put very little thought into. He looked at me as if I had 6 heads, and said, "probably not". I asked him why and his response was something like, "if it were that easy, everyone would do it". Needless to say, after this conversation, he came up with a nickname for me at work. The oh so original, "granola", because apparently I was just too "hippie" even for some folks in California. (It should be noted that in an earlier conversation with this same person, I told him how I wrapped an onion around my swollen bug bitten ankle overnight and it absorbed the toxins from my body and reduced the swelling- maybe I am too much of a deep-rooted hippie)
In any case, this brought up a bigger question in my mind. Why was everyone leaving the food growing up to someone else, so much so that they didn't remember that it comes from a seed. At home, I had no land, but a large open air balcony, and I was growing all sorts of stuff on it. Pots lined the entire thing. I wish I had a photo of it, it was my favorite place, my sanctuary. This was in 2005 (OMG 10 yrs ago!) and some of what I was growing were lettuces and spinach. That year there was a huge spinach E-Coli breakout, and I remember watching the news and thinking, "well I don't have to worry about that I grow my own!" It was the first time since leaving home that I felt empowered, and proud that I had taken something so amazing as providing food for myself, into my own hands.
So I decided then, that any time I had a pit, seed, etc. I would throw it into the woods or field to at least give it an opportunity to grow if I couldn't do it on my little balcony. I became a mini Johnny Appleseed, and have been doing it ever since.
Fast forward to 2015 and I bought a book about regrowing kitchen scraps. This celery, pictured above, is my first stab at it. I only put fabric over the top because of the lovely fly epidemic I have sweeping through my house. Next I will be trying a homemade fly repellent (And I'll post about its effectiveness once I've tried it).
I almost can't believe it's working. I haven't done anything. I merely just sat it on my windowsill, replenished some of the water, once, and that's it. Here are the steps:
1) Take the celery base, and put it in the center of a jar or glass.
2) Add water, enough to cover the base.
3) Watch it grow and replenish water as needed.
If I can do it, anyone can do it. So why aren't they? There's definitely more awareness now than there was before, which is wonderful and hopefully, if you aren't currently regrowing some kitchen scraps, you will be inspired to try this!
If you have regrown them before, what have you grown?