About five and a half years ago, I moved into a condo and started a new chapter of my life. I had made some pretty drastic changes and as such, started a bunch of new projects as a way to take control and do things my way. One of these projects was composting.
I bought a storage bin, drilled some holes in the bottom, threw in a handful of rocks for drainage, then set the bin on some pieces of scrap wood on my balcony. All my fruit and vegetable scraps got tossed in the bin and I mixed in some top soil when I remembered.
Pretty much right away, my balcony and condo became infested with fruit flies. Duh, it was summertime. I put out glasses of vinegar covered with plastic wrap punched with toothpicks and suffered through.
I’m pretty slap-dash about what goes into my compost: fruit stickers, avocado pits, pineapple tops, twist ties – in they go. In the winter time, my pile of slop froze into a big chunk, on top of which I kept dumping new scraps. Come spring, everything would melt into a slimy heap. I’d stab it a few times with a spade and mix in some more soil. In warmer months, weird dangerous-looking powdery white mold grew.
When the bin got full, I would shovel the stuff that looked “ready” into another bin. This I would use in some flowers and vegetables I grew on my balcony garden. Once when I proudly exclaimed to my kid that our salad had come from the garden, she scoffed, “You don’t have a garden – you have buckets.”
It only took five years for me to figure out that the fruit flies could be hampered somewhat by adding strips of newspaper to the compost to dry it out. This only helped a bit, but I did get a feeling of satisfaction from counting the number of flies I’d drowned in my vinegar traps.
Last week, I moved back to the house out of which I moved five and a half years ago and my bin of compost came with me. I bought back my old house from my ex-husband, as he and his new partner have bought somewhere else. Getting the condo ready for sale and moving has been worse than dealing with all of my fruit flies combined. But you know what’s cool? What I’ve ended up with is an entire storage bin full of rich, dark, nutrient-filled compost. It’s even got worms, which is a pretty amazing feat seeing that I was on the 4th floor. This I will use to fertilize the actual garden I have in my new (old) backyard.
I’m really proud of my bin full of crap, as well as how things are going in my life these days. Somehow, 5+ years has passed and during that time, I’ve dealt with a lot of garbage. What I’ve learned is that with persistence, consistence, and patience, piling trash into a box can result in something pretty great over time.