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compostpic

I’m not afraid to admit it. I love compost. There’s an irresistible alchemy involved when you can start with garbage and end up with a wildly nutrient-rich substance that has been likened to Ghiradelli chocolate for earthworms.

We alternate our layers of leaves, chopped garden vegetation and coffee grounds — plus kitchen peelings and parings — between two large compost bins made of recycled construction lumber. The two of us, prodigious vegetable  peelers and coffee drinkers, produce enough compostible material allow us an inch of top dressing on most of the garden, twice each year.  I keep an eye on the pile as it cooks itself into readiness — it gets turned once, and then is periodically poked with a sharpened tomato stake to introduce air deep into the heap. It seems to progress best when it’s slightly damp.

Our parfait of decay includes: exhausted garden plants and weeds, hedge and grass clippings, piles of leaves collected from our neighbors, fruit and veggie peels, eggshells (rinsed and crushed up), dryer lint, coffee grounds, and a handful of garden soil now and then for a bacterial boost.

We don’t compost woody plant material or the thick stems of broccoli, synthetic fabric or its lint, meat or any cooked food scraps, plants with seed heads or plants that show signs of disease.

Our warm, humid climate helps speed the rate of decomposition. I have been assured that urinating on one’s compost pile is the ultimate accelerator, but — being an urban gardener — I lack the courage to use that technique.

What are your favorite compost recipes?

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