The Absolute Easiest Way to Compost

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My friend Ryan Nevius is really cool. She's an environmentalist (hard-core!) who cares enough to make it simple for the laziest of her friends. (Ahem. That would be me.) Ryan taught me how to compost the easy way, by making the kids do it.

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Through Sustainable Midlands, Ryan advocates on a practical, real level, by doing things like hosting a holiday market stocked with local, sustainably created goods, taking worms to local schools and explaining vermi-composting and refusing to let lazy people like me get away with not composting.

At our old house, the thoughtful owners before us had created a great system. In the back corner of the yard, they used metal fencing to build a wide cylinder to contain a compost heap. They explained how it worked — compostable stuff topped with dry leaves, easy — and we kept up with it, for a while. Then we moved.

Our new house had no such system and we most definitely discussed composting. At some point. At least we might have. One child's school was vermi-composting in the classroom, so we could send bags of refuse, which made us feel better about ourselves. (And also allowed us to prove to the child's teacher that we were feeding him vegetables at home.) We have lived here since 2005.

Last summer, the boys and I stayed with a friend in the Italian countryside where — with a yearly limit on the amount of garbage allowed — they recycled and composted everything they could. We were there for a month, and made it the older boys' job to handle the day's compost when asked. When I came home, I knew we had to make it happen.

So, I sheepishly admitted my bad behavior to Ryan, who graciously pretended not to judge and restrained herself from any eye rolling when she told me all I had to do was dig little holes and bury the compost. No special equipment needed, no enormous dedicated space required. The herb garden seemed like the perfect location.

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Even our seven year old can do it, and he actually thinks it's fun! Dig a hole, dump in the scraps and make sure the scraps are completely covered.

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It's so easy, we even offered to take home the scraps from our knife skills class the other day. And it works quickly. A few days later, it's rare to see an identifiable vegetable peel or onion skin in the soil. If we do accidentally dig in a spot that isn't fully decomposed, we just cover it up and dig another little hole. My lavender and rosemary plants are loving it!

You don't need a dedicated garden area to compost this way, just a patch of dirt. You could enrich the soil around shrubs, under your favorite tree or even in a window box. So why did I wait so long?

Do you compost? What's your method?

(Images: Anne Postic)

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