Do I have to compost?

lazy-gardenerTHE LAZY GARDENER

Chief Editor

For folks who long to grow their own food without all the fuss and fancy equipment, we bring you the gardening foibles of Bobbi Buchanan. She doesn’t have the wherewithal to hoe a straight row, let alone keep her garden neat and weeded. She’s an expert at nothing, which makes the fruits of her minor labors that much more inspiring for the rest of us. Welcome to The Lazy Gardener.

No, fellow lazy-gardeners, you don’t have to compost. But you must be lazier than me to find anything strenuous or time-consuming about it. Composting is nothing more than sorting your trash. And what’s easier than tossing sorted garbage into the backyard to prepare for the growing season?

That’s about all it takes to make compost. But let me break it down into a few simple steps before you turn your lawn into a rat trap. Here’s our very unscientific method of composting:

  • We used old cedar posts and extra concrete blocks that we had laying around to section off an area about 8 x 8 feet. The blocks and posts make walls about one foot high. Rather than a bin, we have a compost pad. It’s wide, but not very deep. Sometimes the compost piles up higher than the cedar and concrete walls.


    Our heap blends in nicely with the landscape.

  • Once we had an established area, we started tossing our coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable scraps—even newspapers and dryer lint—into the area. Do NOT put meats or dairy (other than eggshells) into your heap. Although they biodegrade, these products attract rats and other varmints. If you’re not sure what to compost, check out this site:
  • We keep a five-gallon bucket with a lid on our back porch to throw scraps in. Once it’s full, we haul it to the compost heap, and after dumping it we cover the mess with leaves from the surrounding woods. You don’t have to put leaves on it, but we have plenty and they happen to be great for composting, so, what the heck.
  • Every so often, maybe once a month, my husband turns the heap with a pitchfork. This is supposed to help it decompose.
Too lazy to take it out back? Keep the yucky stuff in a transfer bucket until you're ready to walk out back.

Too lazy to take it out back? Keep the yucky stuff in a transfer bucket on the back porch.

If you do this now, by spring, you’ll have some nice muck to add to your garden bed.

Why compost? To have a healthy, productive garden, you need good soil, and good soil starts with compost. And what better way is there than making it yourself, for free, out of household garbage?

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  1. My mom has been composting for years. She has a barrel-like contraption that she turns a crank on, and the stuff rolls around inside. She has an AMAZING yard — landscaped like those houses you see in magazines.

    I had a book once called “Lasagna Gardening” I think you might find it helpful.


  2. Even if you have no interest in composting humanure, “the humanure handbook” is a really great book about composting in general.
    In it, he actually discourages “turning” your compost. If for nothing else than that it’s a waste of time. We’ve always done the same though. Go out every so often and shuffle stuff around. At least it makes us feel like we’re helping it along and it sometimes reveals the fruits of our labors.

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