Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheating on Compost

Our township code enforcement is vigilant in monitoring our properties for errant sheds, out buildings, code violations and permit requirements. From time to time, you will find a red sticker shellacked on whatever you might be working on building, tearing out or installing telling you to cease and visit the township to submit plans, bring something up to code or remove the offending item.

I know this, because we have been offenders on more than one occasion. What were the offenses? A flag pole. Seriously, the township thought it was worth it to drive all the way to our house for a flag pole, which we were actually well within our rights to have, which we still have today. Then, a trailer parked in out driveway for a few days. After that our neighbor got cited for leaving his trash and recycling out two days before trash day. Never mind the fact that he was leaving on vacation and wanted to make sure the trash was hauled away so we all wouldn't be subjected to a stinking, bug infested, raccoon trap. I guess leaving the blue bin by the street is worse.

So, I have been hesitant to build a compost heap, bin or pile, fearing the wrath of the black township code enforcement car that roves our neighborhood on a weekly basis covering my bin with a big, red sticker. Wouldn't you? To cheat the system I came up with a marginally better way to deal with garden scraps at the very least.

Our township collects yard waste in brown paper bags from early April through November. Tree trimmings, grass, limbs, weeds, shrub clippings and that sort of thing. Today, I keep a brown paper sack right outside the front porch, tucked behind shrubbery - as not to offend the neighbors, you see. After a trip to the farmer's market or during meal prep I make a pile of unusable carrot tops, onion tops, stems, seeds, peels and trimmings. I simply carry the pile to the sack, dump it in and fold it over. Once or twice a week I set out the brown sack by the curb to be composted in the township compost and they're none the wiser, it looks like yard waste to me and to them! Of course, I am not getting the benefit of the end result of the lovely composted soil, that right belongs to the township. However, I feel somewhat better that the easily composted produce waste isn't tossed into the trash.

It's a little like cheating, but it's getting the job done. In a round-about sort of way. Besides, I sort of like tricking the township into taking my kitchen scraps!

14 comments:

Joyce said...

You are one smart cookie! I was wondering, do you have too much "compost" or could you just dump your carrot-tops, etc, on the ground behind the bushes or in your flower beds, where they would just shrivel up and turn into dirt? If you could do that without it being too obvious, it could be a way of getting that stuff into your gardens without the traditional compost pile. Sometimes when I weed, if the weeds haven't got seed heads, I just chuck them behind the bushes, where they disintegrate. Because I'm too lazy to walk around back to the compost pile!

Bobbi said...

I'm sneaky with composting too. I follow some of joyce's ideas by leaving weeds around the bottoms of trees and shrubs. I also have a compost heap in my garden, but it doesn't look like a compost heap. I have a large hole I dug near the back of the garden and I fill it with garden and kitchen waste, covering each layer with grass clippings for leaves. From the road, you never know I have an actual compost heap on the property.

Green Bean said...

Ha! I love that you do that. I do it too a little. I also practice Joyce's method. I'm super lazy.

My green task force is working on getting food waste pickup passed so that we could dump all of our food waste in the green waste pickup can. How awesome would that be?

TRBeck said...

I don't do this myself (yet), but I've read good things about composting with worms; that way you can leave it in your house with no worries of it smelling or attracting unwanted creatures, and you'll get to keep the rich soil that the worms produce!

Co-op America has this great article to get you started: http://www.coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/worms.cfm

Joyce said...

Warning about the worms: they don't smell, and they do a good job of eating the garbage, but good luck avoiding fruit flies. Everyone I know has fought them.

Cindy said...

Unfortunately my compost bin is closer to my kitchen than the yard waste container. After rigorous calculation, I always end up dumping our veggie scrap in the compost bin instead of the city yard waste container, though the later is definitely factored in in my complicated mathematical formula.

Melissa said...

I don't think it's cheating; I think it's doing the best you can with the rules you've been given! I second Joyce on the fruit flies. I can't get them out of the garage to save myself.

Kellie said...

Good for you! I look forward to the day when they patrol the neighborhood making sure everyone IS composting!

Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

That's great! I tried composting for my garden. It was a disaster. This is a great alternative. I wish my town offered that service.

Alexa said...

Fruit fly trap:

Find a plastic bottle (we used a 1-liter). Cut about 2/3 way up, remove the neck portion, invert, stick back in. Pour in small amount of orange juice. Flies will go down inverted neck, but can't find way out, drown in OJ.

We just did this a few days ago (I love my worm bin!), and seems to be working...

Chile said...

How about trench composting?

eco 'burban mom said...

joyce & bobbi - I do that when weeding or trimming shrubs, anything that falls out of sight gets left to decompose!

GB - that would be amazing if you could start that service, I am sure you and your task force will have that implemented pronto!

trbeck - I am afraid of worm composting, I just don't think with our cold climate it would work out for me. I would feel terrible if they died!

cindy - If I had a compost bin, I would love the benefits of the soil. Though, our code enforcement is out here three times a week right now policing a new build two doors down from me. I would be busted for sure!

melissa - thank you, it's always key to remember you are doing the best you can!!

kellie - wouldn't that be fun, code enforcement for composting! My neighbors would be ticketed weekly! ;o)

ggni - Ours only offers the service during the summer months, in the winter they don't, so I will have to get a little more creative!

Alexa - this will come in handy during peach season, I always seem to get them in droves!!!

Chile - Um, at the risk of sounding really dumb, what is trench composting? Is it as basic as it sounds? 1. Dig trench 2. Put scraps in trench. 3. Cover trench?

Chile said...

Essentially yes. Here's a link and you can find many more just by searching on "trench composting"

Alana said...

Wow, you're town is a little over the top with enforcing rules. Would they care if you have a pre-made compost bin? And how do they get on your property to check? I just wish there were rules here about making your house presentable, like keeping the siding from falling off. OUr compost bin is next to those neighbors, but they definitely never complain.