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Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm Back

I'm back from my Thanksgiving trip. I had a great time: a lot of cooking! My Aunt and I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and a Pasta Bar spread for my cousin's baby shower on Saturday. Cooking, dishes, relax, cooking, dishes, relax. That's what I did. I didn't even exercise or blog like I thought I would. It was so nice to have a vacation away from all that needs to get done in daily life.

Thanksgiving TIP: When you boil your potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, etc., dump the used water into large stock pot. When you make your turkey soup next day, utilize the saved water, chock full of flavor and vitamins and minerals. It contributes to a great stock/soup.

I managed to save nearly all the compost-able scraps from Thanksgiving and came back with a large bag full to add to my compost pile. It's easy to do. Just put a bowl or tupperware container on the counter while you're preparing your food and throw the scraps in for easy access. This is such a great time of year to bulk up the compost pile for next spring. The secret is to have equal parts "green" and "brown" with a sprinkling of dirt in between. For example, you can take food scraps (obviously no meat) and/or fresh green clippings for your green part. Then, layer with brown, either dried grass or dried leaves (anything brown). Then, sprinkle a small layer of existing dirt and sprinkle with water. Continue to layer until you have a big pile. You can make compost in several types of containers or simply make a big pile. I have boxes that we made. Each layer nests inside each other, leaving an inch gap between each layer for aeration.

The combination of green with the brown contents is what heats up and makes the compost "cook." I believe the dirt adds minerals, but also acts as an insulator to help keep the brown and green cooking. If you simply leave it alone, it will compost in about six months. You can also opt to stir it up, adding more air to the pile which will compost it faster. The trick is to get it heated up first, though. If you're having troubles getting your compost to heat up, it may be too dry or too wet, or not layered properly. It should have the moisture content of a damp sponge. You can try covering it with plastic to solarize it which will hasten the composting, especially in winter. Otherwise, just let it sit for six months. It will eventually be feathery soft soil. If you need to supplement your compost, manure and/or alfalfa pellets will help. Remember, though, these items are considered green. Make sure you balance it with brown contents.

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