On this, that rare odd extra day of February, it is still winter in Michigan, and it has been a very wintery winter. It seems like it’s always snowing. In fact, it’s snowing right now.
We had a little break in the weather last weekend (that is the temperature went above freezing for the afternoon!) so Jim and I had a chance to work outside for 20 minutes or so. We tidied up the yard a bit, moving a wheelbarrow into the barn that had previously been frozen to the ground, carrying compost out to the bin, and taking a few pictures of the frosty garden.
Given the frozen state of affairs, I’ve had compost on my mind. While not actually gardening, composting nonetheless lets me think about what I will feed our plants at some point in the not-too-distant future.
In my websearch for composting resources, I came across this great list: 163 Things You Can Compost Marion Owen’s list includes some things have I haven’t composted (so far), and it also inspired me to make an exhaustive list of the things we have composed. So here goes:
Popcorn (unpopped, ‘Old Maids,’ too)
Matches (paper or wood)
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Spent grains from brewing beer
Spent yeast from brewing beer
Hair clippings from the barber
Tea bags and grounds
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Expired flower arrangements
Stale potato chips
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Electric razor trimmings
Stale breakfast cereal
Tossed salad (now THERE’s tossing it!)
Old or outdated seeds
Liquid from canned vegetables
Liquid from canned fruit
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Produce trimmings from grocery store
and here are some other items we compost that are not on that list:
• ash from hardwood charcoal (NOT from charcoal briquets!)
• leftover oatmeal
• sad old rice
• the lost items from the bottom of the fruit and vegetable drawers
• flour that’s gotten too old
• jack o’lanterns (and other pumpkin shells)
• spent sunflower heads (after Jim has saved the seeds for next year)
• avocado peel (we’ve had less luck with the seeds- too hard)
Marion Owen’s list also included several categories of things we don’t compost, the most prominent being paper products. We have always lived in places where curbside recycling collects paper; we’ve put our paper there, rather than composting it ourselves. The exception to that is newspapers, which we’ve used successfully several times to take down weed patches. To do that, we spread newspaper layers over the area, like behind a garage say, and then put a layer of yard waste like leaves and trimmings to hold the newspapers down. Over the course of a season or a winter, the weeds underneath are thoroughly smothered.
We have no pets, so we don’t compost pet hair or feathers. We don’t have a supply of manure either, although that may change if a certain proposal passes in our town. We’d really love to have chickens!
Marion Owen’s list also includes leather items, such as old gardening gloves and worn-out wallets. I have to admit: I’m intrigued. Jim’s present wallet is looking pretty sad and therefore like my next science experiment more and more each day.