Composting Can Be Lots of Fun

Just recently I have discovered that composting like painting is a passion of mine!

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I have been composting for about twenty-five years on a large scale. But this was always a very simple method that my gardener and right-hand man Sergio has helped me with throughout the years. I call it the Lani Frymiller method. If you are blessed with a large piece of land, take a square area and buy a flake of alfalfa hay and spread out evenly over the ground. If you have horses or can obtain horse manure, cover the hay with a thin layer of horse manure. Repeat the process of layering interspersing with garden waste including lawn clippings.  (Do not include any poisonous plants such as Oleanders.) Within three months I would have beautiful dark loamy compost at the bottom of this pile. I have a little tractor that Sergio uses. Before the tractor Sergio would just dig it out from the bottom with a shovel.

Some people include their kitchen scraps (vegetables and fruit, no meat or bones) in this type of compost pile but I would never did because I was concerned about encouraging rats.

About four years ago I dropped by my sister’s house to see her beautiful new raised beds and vegetable garden. While in the garden Wendy exclaimed,

 Fran, come see my composter!

 Wendy had researched, googling world’s best composter. Joracame up on the Internet. This composter is made in Sweden. That country is so GREEN it is actually the law that every family composts their kitchen scraps!

Jora Composter

Wendy proceeded to demonstrate, adding kitchen scraps, vegetable, fruit and fish, into the composter. The composter has two chambers and she was able to show me a completed batch. Like magic, in three months she had dark loamy soil that smelled marvelous! I decided I wanted to do the same! After ordering the Jora online, I picked out a spot in the garden to put my composter. I was so excited I found myself checking the front porch every day in anticipation of its arrival.

 Finally it arrived and I was as excited as most women are about being given flowers or a new piece of jewelry! The sign of a true gardener?

 To begin, I put a small bucket of horse manure in the bottom of one of the chambers to jump-start the composting process. Although this is not necessary, it does speed up the process. I started adding the kitchen scraps regularly. I bought online an attractive crock that matched my kitchen décor from Gardener’s Supply to keep next to the kitchen sink and collect vegetable and fruit scraps. Per my sister’s advice, I bought Original Feline Pine Pellets. They are made out of wood. It is important to buy the pellets and not the sawdust.

Here’s the process, step by step.

Carry kitchen scraps to composter.

Turn composter eight times to distribute the contents.

Open chamber and if necessary, with a hand-held three-prong cultivator, break up any large chunks or lumps. Then add kitchen scraps.

Close the chamber and rotate several more times.

Open the chamber and sprinkle a handful of the feline pine pellets from the pet store.

Close the lid. Don’t rotate composter until next day when you add your next batch of kitchen waste.

(If you turn the Jora right away pellets will make compost lumpy.) The wooden pellets soften overnight and you can then turn the composter several times to mix all the ingredients.

One can become very educated or be seat of the pants like myself. A friend of mine in Olivenhain Garden Club, Robin, gave a lecture on home composting for our club. She suggested this book to buy: The Complete Compost Gardening Guideby Barbara Pleasant & Deborah L. Martin.  Frankly I have not read it but I do love making the compost! My tomatoes are especially marvelous this season! Maybe in part due to my home made compost.

One of my grandchildren eating and arranging grape tomatoes in the garden

I decided to blog about composting this week. My heart was filled with so much happiness yesterday as I, smiling, carried kitchen scraps to my composter in the garden. I opened the lid and smelled deep loamy compost.

I was thinking, to myself, what a spiritual event it is to make compost. Out of the dead comes the life. We can enrich our soil and grow fruits and vegetables to eat to put the waste back to make more compost to grow more food. What a totally amazing happening! This is so deep that it is kinda the meaning of life and feels so creative!

It is not us that does it. It is like a cut on our arm healing. Life has the seed of life in it whether soil, vegetables, people and animals.

Wow what an amazing world life is!

Happy Composting

Bye for now


One of my new paintings

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