Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brown is the new green

My mom lives for zuchinni. Not just any zuchinni, but her zuchinni. You might even say she dotes on her zuchinni like it was a child.

For many years she has gone out of her way to obtain only the best fertilizer for her precious zuchinni. She takes weekend trips, clad out in her worst jeans, boots and gloves, to the local horse farm. She shovels up as much manure as possible into four large white buckets, and hauls it all home to spread throughout her 10x15 garden plot.

Her devotion doesn't just stop at horse manure. If you've ever eaten a banana in my house, thrown the peel away in the trash, and heard from my outraged mother- you know where I am going with this. A banana peel's correct home is in the compost bin, not the trash can. When the compost bin fills, the contents get dumped in to a huge pile at the bottom of the hill in our backyard- our very own compost heap.

At any given point this pile might contain fruit cores, seeds and peels, melon rinds, outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage, carrot tops, broccoli stems, corn cobs, egg shells, and leaves. And yes, sometimes rotten zuchinni. Other people include rarer items like dead deer but my mom's never gone that far. The contents are decomposed by earthworms, bacteria and time, leaving heaping piles of the best soil at the bottom of the pile. My mother uses this rich brown soil to grow her zuchinni- no artificial or chemical fertilizers.

Maybe my mom's heaping buckets of horse manure frightens you, but if you would like to be “greener” or love zuchinni, a giant brown compost pile is a totally do-able must. Not only will your vegetables be robust, but the process will get you outdoors and shrink the volume of your trash. Get Started.

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