So then my next thought was...I need to research the best way to layer and compost materials. What I came away with was a very frustrated and confused look on my face with conflicting facts about carbon to nitrogen ratios and whether or not you can use some animal byproducts in your compost.
My husband shook his head at all the nonsense I was touting and simply said "just do it." I took his advice and did. It worked out better than I could have imagined. What I didn't realize is how long it takes to compost. I had this grandiose idea that I could start piling matter up and then have beautiful, rich, black gold ready in just a few months. Not so. However, I did get that beautiful, rich, black gold with very little effort, it just took more like a year.
So, why bother with composting? Well, you undoubtedly have a lot of kitchen trash if you cook at all. Think egg shells, onion skins, apple cores, banana peels, the list goes on and on. Why not repurpose those items rather then fill up your hefty bags to lug to the curb? It is really this simple:
Items needed: bowl or repurposed ice cream pail (I really like having a lid)
There are a few things you want to avoid in your compost pile. You want to avoid citrus fruits (no pineapple, oranges, lemons, etc). You don't want oils or fats going in there (it can inhibit the decaying process) and you don't want processed foods (granola bars, cake, cookies, etc) only fruits, veggies, peels, and outdoor organic matter.
When your compost has cured you will know it because as you dig down several layers with your shovel you will see layers of whatever you have thrown out and at the bottom, pure black gold, hopefully filled with the most ridiculous amounts of earthworms you have ever seen! (My children love to raid the compost pile for fishing worms). I always wondered why all the garden magazines seemed to be so hot on selling worms to people for compost piles, if your pile is outside, the worms naturally will find it and as they do their thing, it turns to the best organic matter you can imagine for growing whatever you want.
I did an experiment a few years ago, unfortunately I didn't photograph it at the time, but I planted a zucchini in compost and one in the dirt. The difference in how the two plants turned out was like night and day. The one grown in a shovel full of compost was twice as big, grew hearty and full and put the other one to a pitiful shame.
Winter is a bit of a slow time for the compost pile, but it is doing its job, just very quietly. Here is a picture of my composted kitchen scraps that need to be taken to the bin later today.