Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day... time to get dirty!

Welcome to my very first gardening post! My love to garden is probably only second to my love to read and tied with cooking. In fact, one of my greatest cooking pleasures is cooking something using ingredients I have grown in my own garden or picked myself at a farm. I've been wanting to blog more about gardening, so why not christen my blog with dirt on Earth Day!

A garden grows from the ground up, so today I'm talking about one of the best things you can do to enrich your garden soil, and that's making your own compost, or what organic gardeners sometimes call black gold. I'm going to share how I compost in my suburban back yard. I'm also starting an experiment in my compost pile today, in honor of Earth Day and in honor of the world's very first compostable chip bag made by SunChips. More on that further down in the post.

In the meantime, this is my compost pile:

I started composting about a decade or so ago. It's so easy and so green. Well, actually, it starts out green and brown all mixed together and ends up black. ;)

By having a compost pile in your yard, you make your own organic, nutrient rich hummus to use in your vegetable, flower and herb gardens, around trees and shrubs, even in your lawn. Not only that, but you're reducing the amount of household trash you produce.

There are many ways to compost in your backyard with bins and barrels, but I never got around to making or buying one, so I just do it the easy way.

All year long, I keep a stainless steel bucket under my kitchen sink and I fill it with all kinds of vegetative waste from the kitchen such as vegetable and fruit peels and scraps, used coffee grounds, egg shells, stuff like that.

In the fall, I make a huge pile of dry, fallen leaves in the corner of my yard where my compost pile is. To speed things up and make things more manageable, I usually use my mower over the piles of raked leaves to mulch them up to smaller pieces. I often use some of the mulched leaves to cover bare soil in the garden beds for the winter as well.

All year long, in all kinds of weather except rain {I get too wet and muddy those days}, when my compost bucket under the sink is full, I trudge out to the compost pile and mix it all into the pile of leaves with a pitch fork.

I also add garden materials from my yard such as more leaves, plant clippings, spent pine needles from the holidays or from my neighbor's yard, grass clippings if there aren't too many weeds flowering in my lawn at the time, and I even toss in the little piles of manure the deer like to leave for me in the grass throughout the year.

Things that take forever to decompose in the compost pile are avocado pits, mango pits and corn cobs. I actually don't put corn cobs in the compost anymore because the nighttime critters like raccoons love to take them out of the pile even though there's no more corn on them and leave them somewhere in the lawn after they've done what with them, which my lawnmower DOES NOT like.

So I keep adding and turning and mixing and eventually I get some nice black compost to spread in my garden along with hundreds of earthworms who have lived in my pile for the last few months having the time of their life. And that's all there is to making fertilizer for my garden the way nature intended. :)

Now onto my composting experiment. Have you seen the latest ads for SunChips? I think I may have seen this first one while watching this year's winter Olympics, but I'm not sure. Take a look, it's only 30 seconds long:

Isn't that great? A chip bag that's made from plants that will decompose in 14 weeks! What an awesome accomplishment. To show my support of the SunChips company and all the efforts and and advances they are making to make the world a better place, I have decided to compost one of their new bags in my compost pile. I want to see how long it will take in a backyard compost pile.

The SunChips people actually photographed the chip bag in the video every 15 minutes for 14 weeks. I'm going to do my best to photograph every 24 hours or so for as long as it takes to decompose. I'm expecting my bag to decompose a little bit longer than 14 weeks, though, because I suspect my backyard pile might be smaller and therefore not reach temperatures as high as the test compost bin used by SunChips. Let's see how long it takes.

Day 1 Earth Day, April 22, 2010

Empty SunChips bag:

Laying on top of the pile:

It's in there!

In addition to the introduction of the compostable chip bag, SunChips has also incorporated the use of Solar Power to operate their plant in Modesto, CA.

Visit SunChips at They even have a page dedicated to Composting 101 so you can learn more about the benefits of home composting and how to do it!

One last video from SunChips that I love.

What changes will you make for a brighter tomorrow?


  1. I never knew about the sun chips bag! That is all types of awesome.

  2. Since Ron and I don't own a TV I had not seen that ad or heard about that sun chips bag! That's totally the coolest thing ever!!!

  3. That's it--I'm going to try this! (though I may try to build a fenced in space for the compost pile)

    Thank you, Christine!

  4. I didn't know about the Sun Chips bag either Christine! You enjoy that garden and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow as the season progresses.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I've seen the commercials for the SunChips bag and thought it was awesome that a corporation was so environmentally responsible. I been trying to talk the hubs into composting for a while now.
    Best wishes for the decomposition of the bag and for your garden to grow! I'm trying to express the importance of gardening and recycling to the kids this year.

    I hope your week is going well!

  6. We started composting over the winter. My garden soil looks wonderful and I hope to put some peppers and squash in next weekend. And I have to find those sun chips. I hadn't seen the ad before, so I'm glad you told us about it. It will be very fun to see your pictures of the bag over time.

  7. Great post, Christine. I look forward to updates on the composting. :)

  8. This is really cool! I hadn't heard about this either! I'm going to eat some Sun Chips. Also, I love how together you are with the composting. I can't wait to see how your garden progresses.

  9. Hey guys! It's a great excuse to eat SunChips, right? OMG I love those chips. Nom nom nom!

    KB: SunChips FTW!

    Lolly: You don't own a TV? That is all kinds of awesome. We don't watch much TV, but the husband does watch sports (football a.k.a. soccer mostly) we watch movies, and play video games. I heart Beatles RockBand. ;)

    azteclady: Do it! It's SO easy! I always wanted to make it a fenced space like a bin... using old pallets or something, but never got around to it. You'll have to let me know how you build it.

    I forgot to mention how cathartic it is sometimes to take a pitchfork to something. LOL. O__o

    Lea: Thank you! I actually don't have a very green thumb when it comes to garden, but I love it anyway and I keep trying. I look forward to sharing photos from my postage stamp homestead. LOL!

    Brandy: Isn't that bag great? If .... WHEN you make your compost pile, you'll have the perfect excuse to eat some chips and do the same experiment with the kids!

    Phyl: High five for becoming a composter! My garden has to be re-established from scratch since the addition, but hopefully I can get it going in time so I'm not picking my first tomato in September or something.

    Jace: Thank you! :)

    Carolyn: I am VERY together with my composting. It's my thing. Just m and the dirt and worms. And the microorganisms I can't see. We're happy. ;o)

  10. C, your post is very inspiring. I'm known in the family as the laziest person when it comes to working in our garden. I usually makes different excuses ;-)

    But like I said your post is very inspiring, I might give this gardening thing a try. I'm reading Blue Dahlia at the moment by NR and she talks a lot about gardening. And that sun chips bag is awesome! I have a box of SC still waiting for me to eat them all.

    I'll keep an eye on your next posts about gardening and I'd like to see after the 14 days if you'd get the same results as others. Good luck!

  11. OH wait,,,i think that was 14 weeks (not 14 days)!!!

  12. Never tried Sun Chips but I'm willing to try them just because of the bag. That's seriously cool.

  13. Hi Christine!

    I totally did not know that about the Sun Chips bag, how cool!

    My mom has always been a huge conservationist, recycler, you name it, we did it, lol. Even when the neighbors thought we were nuts! I still try to follow the guidelines I was taught as a child.

    Thanks for sharing with us! Too interesting!

    Dottie :)

  14. Natalie: Aw, I hope I inspire you to want to garden! I may even have some perennials I can dig up and give to you for your yard. I'm always looking to swap plants with someone. Whatcha got growing in your yard?

    Leslie: Omgosh! You have GOT to try SunChips! They're soooo good! If you like whole grain taste, that is. :D

    Dottie: Hi! :)
    I think that's very cool that your mom has always been a huge conservationist. I'm under the impression that you and I are along the lines of the same generation, so your mom was probably very much ahead of the times.

    Thanks for visiting today! :)

  15. Cool Christine!! Looking forward to your pictures :D 14 weeks, that's a while :D

  16. I'm doing a garden this year for the first time in years! :)

  17. interesting!

    We have a very small compost pile that we started. We have a big yard but it's shaded with so many big trees. Our veggie garden is limited to the area around our porch. We have lots of strawberries coming up already!

    Thanks for this great post! We went to a picnic and planted some starter seeds for Earth Day!

    Take care,

  18. Good luck with the compost. I compost - I use the grass clippings and add in vegetable matter (except for onion skins, which don't break down very well). I distributed two bins earlier, and you can tell the good stuff - it's worm heaven :)

  19. I think its cool that Sunchips is doing this! The bags are SO STINKIN LOUD THOUGH HOLY CRAP I CAN'T STEAL A SINGLE ONE!!! LOL

    Its great that you can do this!!! That would be something cool about owning a house. In the meantime I plan to keep up the 3R's LOL


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