I would never classify myself as a cheapskate, but I do like saving money. I’m always telling my cost-conscious friends, “If you’re looking for a bargain, get a library card!” After all, the library offers book, magazines, music, and movies for…nothing! What could be a better deal?
For a gardener like me, another great bargain is making compost. All you really need to get started is source of kitchen scraps, for most of us that would be our own kitchen, and a place to stow them while time, heat, and air to do the work. The result is a nutrient rich fertilizer/soil for your garden, shrubs, flowers, and container plants. I had wanted to get started on composting for awhile but I couldn’t seem to find the right container. There’s the old school, and very effective, bin constructed from chicken wire and lumber. I am, however, someone who is woefully unskilled with hammer and nails. There are also plenty of excellent commercial bins available but none that I felt were within my budget. Finally, I located a simple bin at Home Depot for a price I thought I could handle. Okay, I admit that it was on sale. When I say simple, I mean it. My bin consists of four interlocking sides and a spring top lid, but it has been doing the job for a year and a half and I couldn’t be happier. Vegetable scraps, washed out egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea bags all go inside along with shredded paper and yard trimmings and out comes rich, black soil.
While composting is a straight-forward operation, there are a guidelines and tips that can make the process more effective and enjoyable. Here are a few of the resources available at DCPL.
Complete Compost Gardening Guide: Banner Batches, Grow Heaps, Comforter Compost and Other Amazing Techniques for Saving Time and Money, Producing the Most Flavorful, Nutritious Vegetables Ever by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin
The Rodale Book of Composting Deborah L. Martin and Grace Gershuny, editors
The Urban/ Suburban Composter: the Complete Guide to Backyard, Balcony, and Apartment Composting by Mark Cullen and Lorraine Johnson
Let It Rot! The Gardener’s Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell
…and for kids, how about…
Compost! : Growing Gardens From Your Garbage by Linda Glaser; pictures by Anca Hariton
Oh yes, back in the late spring, I noticed a plant growing out of my bin. A week later, I realized that what I had was a tomato plant that must have sprouted from a composted seed. I’ve left it alone and it has grown into mass of vines nearly 12 feet long. Plus, it has produced delicious tomatoes all summer long.
Now that’s what I call something for nothing!