Creating perfect compost

Credit: Sharon Hanna


I am the last person to be able to boast re: my ‘balanced’ perfect compost, layered like zee perfect lasagna. After all, here I sit, writing in my pajamas, in the middle of the afternoon! (Hibernation is natural in winter!)

Like most mortals, I easily keep on dumping green kitchen waste into my compost pile… matter how many articles I write about balanced compost and how your compost must be like a perfect lasagna. In all honesty, I regularly forget, even consciously neglect (like most gardeners) to alternate nitrogen (wet green kitchen waste) with the carbon layer – leaves, shredded paper, etc. I just keep throwing it on – dumping my stainless steel Lee Valley bucket right in to the pile.

Then one day, as I walk the crooked path to the heap, I see (and smell) the terrible consequence of my arrogant foolishness – my compost has become…..the creature from the lagoon.

Some time ago, an idea came to me while I was peeling veggies and making a mess, peelings going into the sink…..also inconvenient and impractical because of possible clogs, how much plumbers cost, not to mention dirtying cutting boards, and having to use precious water to wash the cutting boards! I was really only thinking of tidiness and avoiding overuse of water….when the light bulb went on. This is also a great way to achieve carbon/nitrogen balance in your compost.

Here’s how: whenever you are cooking – making soup, trimming veggies, peeling, place one doubled sheet of newspaper on your kitchen counter. Peel, trim and cut directly onto the newspaper, as illustrated. The newspaper can remain there for the duration of evening meal prep, or soup-making. By the way, newspaper is safe now, according to my sources, as the ink is vegetable-based.

When you’re done, fold up the newspaper package – edges in. Then roll, like you were making a cabbage roll, and put it in your compost bucket or outdoors. Presto! Your ‘wrap’ reaches it’s final resting place in the form of a balanced little package of carbon and nitrogen. The worms also appreciate the reading material ☺.

Freelance writer Sharon Hanna runs the gardening program at Queen Alexandra school. her newest venture is “HotBeds” – food garden installations, gardening lessons – helping folks get growing in the city.