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Confessions of a Composting Quitter

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compost pile

Clearly I love to garden, and I absolutely know that creating rich compost in my own backyard is a benefit to both my garden and the planet-at-large, but to me it definitely turned into…work. I’m not afraid of work, and I loved the fact that I was keeping copious amounts of fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, and newspaper from going into a landfill, but the flip side of those good feelings was a bin that always. seemed. full. And I can literally see the compost pile from out of the kitchen window, but it may as well have been a hike up Everest for the daunting task taking it out felt like.

The nail in the coffin of my composting journey last year was the fruit fly invasion, or what I like to call World War III at the Johnson house. Our unusually mild start to the winter wreaked havoc with our indoor compost pail, and the fruit flies set up shop and were as persistent as a kid at Toys R Us. Short of setting off a bomb in the kitchen and rebuilding, there seemed to be no way to stop them. The kitchen was spotless each evening with no fruit or veggies left in the bowl, and still they came. I am convinced they were paying me back for that AP Biology class I took, and their fruit fly ancestors I had to put to sleep and then study under a microscope. They. wanted. payback.

So I’ve been on a self-proclaimed 2-month vacation from composting, and despite the occasional pangs of guilt for throwing perfectly compostable materials in the trash, it has been relaxing. But my inner crunchy self is ready to start anew; I know it’s because it’s January, and we’re all trying to get things in order for the new year. I’m already telling myself I’ll be more diligent in taking out the pail, even if deep down I know I’m lying.

I’ve already cleaned out the pail to bring in the house (though my Granny always used an old milk jug with the top cut off, and she never had fruit flies!), and I’ve even started cutting up the newspaper when we’re done with it each morning, so I can throw those in the bin too. So, don’t think I’m knocking the compost pile; I love what it provides for my garden each year. And though composting seems inconvenient at times, my kids are watching us be more conscious about what we throw away and learning all about how materials break down. It’s science in the backyard!!

So get on (or back on) the composting wagon with me, even if it’s something you though you’d never try. You’ll be amazed at all of things you can actually compost at home and keep from the fate of a plastic bag in a landfill. And even if you don’t have a vegetable or herb garden, you can use compost for any plants in your yard; they’ll love you for it. I’ll be posting a series later this month about how and what to compost, and I’ll have some links to super handy composting tools (though you really just need a pail and a square of dirt).

Any compost fans out there? I’d love to know if you’ve tried it, and what has worked best for you!

Carole West, Garden Up Green

Wednesday 22nd of June 2016

Here we go I found you - Composting is my favorite thing - I have an article in Grit Magazine that explains Direct Composting - it's so fun and the little interview is from Karen - Didn't expect to see her comment when I clicked this post. Small world.


Thursday 23rd of June 2016

Yes! Karen was the first person to tell me about direct composting, and I'm definitely interested in giving it a try. I"ll see if I can find your article and read up on it. Thank you!

How to Start Composting (Part 1) - The Kitchen Garten

Saturday 6th of February 2016

[…] any other name that emphasized how awesome composting really is. If you’ve read my other post, then you know that I took a two-month composting hiatus because I’d turned into a fruit fly […]

Composting 101: How to Start - The Kitchen Garten

Saturday 6th of February 2016

[…] any other name that emphasized how awesome composting really is. If you’ve read my other post, then you know that I took a two-month composting hiatus because I’d turned into a fruit fly […]


Friday 22nd of January 2016

Hi Courtney! I'm delighted to have found your blog and already feel we are kindred hearts when it comes to the garden.

Ah, compost...I've been gardening for over 25 years (yikes!) and if I've had one gardening nemesis, it would be composting. We've tried all kinds of methods and structures and I've probably grown an entire civilization of fruit flies in my kitchen/compost pail/compost piles alone through the years. Oh, how I hate those little things!

Finally, about a year ago I learned of the simplest method that I was a real face-palm moment for me: direct composting. I carry my compostable material to the garden, dig a hole, pour it in, cover it up, and I'm done! Right there in the garden I bury the scraps and it invites all the neighboring earthworms and my plants are so happy! Finally - problem solved because I know that lie about taking the pail out regularly... :)

It's a delight to visit with you and I'm looking forward to strolling around for a while!


Saturday 23rd of January 2016

Hi Karen! I'm so glad to meet a fellow gardener. What a brilliant idea for composting! Direct composting has never even occurred to me; I'll definitely be implementing this in my garden. It seems so simple!