The Suburban Farmer

I love spring! The flowers are blooming, the grass is lush and green, and the leaves are popping out on the trees. The girls have been noticing all sorts of different birds that I didn’t even realize live here – robins, for one. They’re frantically looking for bird nests, but we haven’t seen one, yet.

We’ve started planting our vegetable garden and feeding all the plants in the yard, getting ready for warmer weather. I’ve given the girls their annual “bee” talk, about how we need to protect the bees and not hurt them because there aren’t as many as there should be anymore. We try to use products in the yard that are as natural as possible to help out our little pollinating friends.

With that in mind, I started a compost bin last fall. Compost bin, you ask?! Yes, I’m becoming a Suburban Farmer. I felt badly that I kept throwing away so many veggies and veggie by-products (like broccoli stems, kale stalks, carrot tops...) that I wanted to put to good use.

The soil in our backyard is virtually clay and doesn’t support life of any kind, even weeds. Every time we plant something there is a long process of mixing the clay with all sorts of additives like compost (from the store) and planting mix. And then we cross our fingers that we used enough! 

I’m hoping all the great nutrients in the compost we create will revitalize our drab soil and perk up the garden. At the very least, it won’t do it any harm. By the way, there are some pretty strict rules as to what you should and shouldn’t compost. Here’s a quick guide to follow. We kept kitchen scraps out of it (other than clean fruit and veggie waste) because the compost bin started smelling a bit funky. Not exactly what I had in mind for a nice backyard scent. Keeping bread, etc., out of there really fixed the smell.

After months of adding to the compost bin, churning it up and watering it, the time came to check out what we had created. Because we’re constantly adding to the pile, not all of it had decomposed to dirt, but the bottom third of the bin was definitely garden-ready. We put it on plants that were in need of help (two of our hydrangeas have seen better days and needed some extra nutrients) and added it to our raised vegetable bed. I thought we’d have so much more dirt, but we don’t live on a farm, so there’s a limit to how much compost we can create. Still, I am so excited about it! We’re reducing the amount of trash we send to the landfill and putting nutrients back into the soil, naturally. And the girls love finding worms after the rain to put into the bin. I love that they’re learning, in a very hand’s on way, what worms do for the earth and that we don’t need to throw everything away in the trash.

Here's a super easy tutorial that's more or less what we did. Compost bins can run into the hundreds of dollars, crazy. We bought a $10 trash bin at Lowes, drilled some holes, and secured the top with a strap so critters wouldn't pry it open. Quick and easy! Plus, once it gets too heavy, you can push it on its side and roll it around to mix up the contents.

I started a Compost Pinterest board so I would feel like I knew what I was doing. I’m ever the researcher/planner.

And, not surprisingly, there are a ton of counter-top bins to put your waste in before hauling it out to the yard. Now your compost can look pretty on the counter!

Here’s to creating compost bins and dirt of your very own!