Prepping the Soil – Kitchen Scraps to Garden Beds

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I originally shared this post on a blog that I keep for my family over at and I thought that it would be worth sharing here. I am surprised how confusing people make composting and how may excuses I hear on why they don’t do it. Rats, snakes, bugs, worms and the list goes on. I have had my share of compost disasters, but have learned that there are ways to avoid 90% of the problems. Composting needs to be looked at as process, and should be approached in steps.

The Three important steps can be broken down into

  1. Collection – how you collect your kitchen scraps
  2. Breakdown – where the organics will breakdown
  3. Cook – where they cooks and cures.

Now if you have a farm, large lot or area than you can take your pick of ways to compost. I have even seen aquaponics farmers using compost to warm their tank water. If you live in an urban area, where space is limited you need to be clever.

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For the past couple of years I was so busy with a project that I didn’t have the time to grow as much food. It was something that I really missed and even felt guilty about, but with my hectic schedule it wasn’t really possible. I did have time to produce our own soil, and with the amount of organic excess matter our family produces on a daily level, it was time to harvest the compost into a new garden bed.

My wife built the kids a play house out of reclaimed wood pallets over the summer, and the kids used the extra stones in yard to create a walkway to their new place. This sectioned off a south facing part of the backyard that is partly shaded and great for a fall garden.

The first thing I did was to start digging and turning the soil where the garden would be. After that I emptied the compost that we had been growing over the past two years into the pile.

The compost was a three part process. It started in the kitchen with our small kitchen composter that we used to catch our coffee grounds, egg shells, and every organic scrap other than meat or dairy. This ends up in a tumbler system that we have had for over ten years now. We have to empty these scraps every other day or so.

The tumbler gets mixed with dry leaves and we fill it about 3/4 full before, around 3 months, before we move it to finish cooking in a 3ft by 4ft chicken wire holder. We have been adding to this compost bin for the past two years, mixing collections from our tumbler and the leaves from the yard.

Finally its time to turn this creation of organic soil into a garden bed. Not only will we be growing food to eat, but we we will be growing it in scraps from food we ate. This system is the easiest on I have come across for a family of five in an urban area. The tumbler really breaks down the organic and keeps it away from the critters. By the time I move it to the bin and mix in more leaves it is ready to cook and already has most of the microbes to expedite the system.

I think having two bins for having two different areas for cooking the compost would be helpful, especially to keep up with the collection from the yard. We have some big trees so we get a lot of leaves in our little yard. Lats year I made collections by the trees to add some nutrients to the base roots. As these broke down I would add them to the bin. This year I may try to use two of them to speed up the process. We will have to see.

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